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Title: Notes of a Twenty-Five Years' Service in the Hudson's Bay Territory - Volume II. (of 2)
Author: M'lean, John
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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       *       *       *       *       *





Journey to Norway House 9


Arrival at York Factory--Its
Situation--Climate--Natives--Rein-Deer--Voyage to Ungava--Incidents of
the Voyage--Arrival at Ungava--Situation and Aspect 16


Exploring Expedition through the Interior of
Labrador--Difficulties--Deer Hunt--Indian Gluttony--Description of the
Country--Provisions run short--Influenza 32


Distressing Bereavement--Exploring Party--their Report--Arrival at
Esquimaux--Establish Posts--Pounding Rein-Deer--Expedition up George's
River--Its Difficulties--Hamilton River--Discover a stupendous
Cataract--Return by George's River to the Sea--Sudden Storm and
miraculous Escape 60


Esquimaux arrive from the North Shore of Hudson's Strait on a
Raft--Despatch from the Governor--Distress of the Esquimaux--Forward
Provisions to Mr. E----. Return of the Party--Their deplorable
Condition 81


Trip to Esquimaux Bay--Governor's Instructions--My Report to the
Committee--Recommend the Abandonment of Ungava Settlement--Success of
the Arctic Expedition conducted by Messrs. Dease and Simpson--Return
by Sea to Fort Chimo--Narrowly escape Shipwreck in the Ungava
River--Impolitic Measure of the Governor--Consequent Distress at the
Post 88


Another exploring Expedition--My Promotion--Winter at Chimo--Obtain
permission to visit Britain--Ungava abandoned 98



Climate of Ungava--Aurora Borealis--Soil--Vegetable
Productions--Animals--Birds--Fish--Geological Features 102


The Nascopies--Their Religion--Manners and
Customs--Clothing--Marriage--Community of Goods 118


The Esquimaux--Probable Origin--Identity of Language from Labrador
to Behring's Straits--Their Amours--Marriages--Religion--Treatment of
Parents--Anecdote--Mode of Preserving Meat--Amusements--Dress--The
Igloe, or Snow-House--Their Cuisine--Dogs--The Sledge--Caiak, or
Canoe--Ouimiàk, or Boat--Implements--Stature 131


Labrador--Esquimaux Half-Breeds--Moravian Brethren--European
Inhabitants--Their Virtues--Climate--Anecdote 155


Voyage to England--Arrival at Plymouth--Reflections--Arrive at
the place of my Nativity--Changes--Depopulation--London--The
Thames--Liverpool--Embark for New York--Arrival--The
Americans--English and American Tourists--England and America--New
York 167


Passage from New York to Albany by Steamer--The Passengers--Arrival at
Albany--Journey to Montreal 187


Embark for the North--Passengers--Arrive at Fort William--Despatch
from Governor--Appointed to McKenzie's River District--Portage
La Loche--Adventure on Great Slave Lake--Arrive at Fort
Simpson--Productions of the Post 193


Statements in the Edinburgh Cabinet Library--Alleged Kindness of
the Hudson's Bay Company to the Indians--And Generosity--Support of
Missionaries--Support withdrawn--Preference of Roman Catholics--The
North-West Company--Conduct of a British Peer--Rivalry of the
Companies--Coalition--Charges against the North-West Company refuted


Arrival of Mr. Lefroy--Voyage to the Lower Posts of the
McKenzie--Avalanche--Incidents of the Voyage--Voyage to Portage La
Loche--Arbitrary and unjust Conduct of the Governor--Despotism--My
Reply to the Governor 228


Situation of Fort Simpson--Climate--The Liard--Effects of the
Spring Floods--Tribes inhabiting McKenzie's
River District--Peculiarities--Distress through
Famine--Cannibalism--Anecdote--Fort Good Hope saved by the Intrepidity
of M. Dechambault--Discoveries of Mr. Campbell 241


Mr. McPherson assumes the Command--I am appointed to Fort Liard,
but exchange for Great Slave Lake--The Indians--Resolve to quit the
Service--Phenomena of the Lake 255


Reflections--Prospects in the Service--Decrease of the Game--Company's
Policy in consequence--Appeal of the Indians--Means of
Preserving them, and improving their Condition--Abolition of the
Charter--Objections answered 260


Wesleyan Mission--Mr. Evans--Encouragement given by the Company--Mr.
Evans' Exertions among the Indians--Causes of the Withdrawal of the
Company's Support--Calumnious Charges against Mr. E.--Mr. E. goes to
England--His sudden Death 278



Red River--Soils--Climate--Productions--Settlement of Red River
through Lord Selkirk by Highlanders--Collision between the
North-West and Hudson's Bay Companies--Inundation--Its
Effects--French Half-Breeds--Buffalo Hunting--English
Half-Breeds--Indians--Churches--Schools--Stores--Market for
Produce--Communication by Lakes 289


Sir G. Simpson--His Administration 311

       *       *       *       *       *

VOCABULARY of the PRINCIPAL INDIAN DIALECTS in use among the Tribes in
the Hudson's Bay Territory 323

       *       *       *       *       *






       *       *       *       *       *



I started from Stuart's Lake on the 22d of February, and arrived at
Fort Alexandria on the 8th of March. Although the upper parts of the
district were yet buried in snow, it had disappeared in the immediate
neighbourhood of the establishment, and everything wore the pleasing
aspect of spring.

Mr. F---- was about to remove to a new post he had erected on the west
bank of the river. Horses were provided for us to perform the journey
overland to Okanagan. We left on the 13th; on the 15th we encamped on
the borders of Lac Vert, having experienced a violent snow-storm in
the early part of the day. The lake and circumjacent country presented
a beautiful scene; the spurs of the Rocky Mountains bounding the
horizon and presenting a rugged outline enveloped in snow--the
intervening space of wooded hill and dale clothed in the fresh verdure
of the season; and the innumerable low points and islands in the lake
contributing to the variety of the landscape.

Hitherto we had found much snow on the ground, and our progress in
consequence was very slow. Our tardy horses subsisting on whatever
they could pick during the night, or when we halted for our meals,
began to falter, so that we were under the necessity of stopping to
allow them to feed wherever any bare ground appeared.

On the evening of the 18th we came in sight of Kamloops' Lake, which,
to my great surprise, was not only clear of ice, but the valley in
which it is situated appeared clothed with verdure, while the heights
on the other side were still covered with snow. The valley looks to
the south, and is protected from the cold winds by the neighbouring
high grounds.

On arriving at Kamloops' post we found two Canadians in charge,
Mr. B---- having set off a few days before for the dépôt at Fort
Vancouver. We met with a cordial reception from his men, who
entertained us with horse-flesh and potatoes for supper; and next day
we bountifully partook of the same delicacies, my prejudice against
this fare having completely vanished.

Fort Kamloops is situated at the confluence of Thompson's River
and its north branch; the Indians attached to it are a tribe of the
Atnahs. Their lands are now destitute of fur-bearing animals, nor are
there many animals of the larger kind to be found; they however find
subsistence in the variety of edible roots which the country affords.
They have the character of being honest, quiet, and well-disposed
towards the whites. As soon as the young women attain the age of
puberty, they paint their faces after a fashion which the young men
understand without explanation. They also dig holes in the ground,
which they inlay with grass or branches, as a proof of their industry;
and when they are in a certain state they separate from the community
and live in small huts, which they build for themselves. Should any
one unwittingly touch them, or an article belonging to them, during
their indisposition, he is considered unclean; and must purify himself
by fasting for a day, and then jumping over a fire prepared by _pure_

We left Kamloops on the 20th, and after travelling about twenty miles
found the ground covered with snow, which increased in depth as we
advanced. The track left by Mr. B----'s party was of great service to

We encamped at the extremity of Okanagan Lake, where we found a small
camp of natives nearly starved to death; the unfortunate creatures
passed the night in our encampment, and we distributed as much of our
provisions amongst them as we could possibly spare. This encampment
afforded me as miserable a night's lodging as I had ever met with; a
snow-storm raged without intermission till daylight, when we set out
so completely benumbed that we could not mount our horses till we had
put the blood in circulation by walking.

We overtook Mr. B---- on the 25th, his horses completely jaded and
worn out by the fatigues of the journey; the great depth of the snow
indeed would have utterly precluded travelling had he not adopted
the precaution of driving a number of young horses before the loaded
horses to make a track.

The country through which we have travelled for the last few days
is exceedingly rugged, and possesses few features to interest the

We arrived at the post of Okanagan on the 28th, situated on the left
bank of the Columbia River. The ground was still covered with snow to
the depth of two feet, and had been five feet deep in the course of
the winter--an extraordinary circumstance, as there generally falls so
little snow in this quarter, that the cattle graze in the plain nearly
all winter. The Indians are designated Okanagans, and speak a dialect
of the Atnah. Their lands are very poor, yielding only cats, foxes,
&c.; they subsist on salmon and roots.

Messrs. F---- and D---- arrived from Fort Vancouver on the 7th of
April, and we embarked on the 8th in three boats manned by retiring
servants. Mr. B---- accompanied us, having obtained permission to
cross the Rocky Mountains.

We arrived at Colville on the 12th, where we met with a most friendly
reception from a warmhearted Gael, (Mr. McD.) The gentlemen proceeding
to the dépôt in charge of the accounts of the Columbia department
generally remain here a few days to put a finishing hand to these
accounts--an operation which occupied us till the 22d, when we
re-embarked, leaving Messrs. D---- and B---- behind; the former being
remanded to Fort Vancouver; and the latter, having changed his mind,
in an evil hour for himself, returned to his old quarters; where he
was murdered sometime afterwards by an Indian who had lost his father,
and thought that the company of his old trader would solace him for
the absence of his children.



I arrived at York Factory, the dépôt of the Northern department, early
in July. This establishment presents a more respectable appearance
than any other that I have seen in Rupert's Land, and reflects no
small credit on the talents and taste of him who planned, and partly
executed, the existing improvements, all which have been effected
since the coalition. When Mr. McT. first assumed the command, the
buildings were of the most wretched description--the apartments
had more the appearance of cells for criminals, than of rooms for

The yielding nature of the swampy ground on which the buildings were
to be erected rendering it necessary to lay a solid foundation, the
object was accomplished in the face of every difficulty, and at a
great expense; and the present commodious buildings were commenced,
but not finished by the projector. Other improvements have been made
since then, so that they afford every comfort and convenience that
could be expected in so unfavourable a situation.

The dépôt is at present under the charge of a chief factor, assisted
by a chief trader, a surgeon, and two clerks. Here there is always a
sufficient supply of goods and provisions on hand to meet the demand
of the trade for two years--a wise precaution, as in the event of
any accident happening to prevent the vessel from reaching her
destination, the trade would not be interrupted. The very emergency
thus provided for occurred last autumn; the ship, after dropping
anchor in her usual mooring ground, was compelled by stress of weather
to bear away for England, after loosing her anchors, and sustaining
other serious damages. Yet notwithstanding this untoward event,
the gentlemen in charge of the different districts set off for the
interior with their outfits complete.

The climate, although extremely disagreeable, is not considered
unhealthy. In summer the extremes of heat and cold are experienced in
the course of a few hours; in the morning you may be wearing nankeen,
and before noon, duffle. Were the heat to continue for a sufficient
length of time to thaw the ground thoroughly, the establishment could
not be kept up save at a great sacrifice of life, through the mephitic
exhalations from the surrounding swamps. The ground, however, seldom
thaws more than eighteen inches, and the climate therefore is never
affected by them to such a degree as to become unhealthy.

One of Mr. McT----'s most beneficial improvements was to clear the
swamps surrounding the factory of the brushwood with which they were
thickly covered; and the inmates are now in a great measure relieved
from the torture to which they were formerly exposed from the
mosquitoes. These vampires are not so troublesome in the cleared
ground, but whoever dares to intrude on their domain pays dearly for
his temerity. Every exposed part of the body is immediately covered
with them; defence is out of the question; the death of one is avenged
by the stings of a thousand equally bloodthirsty; and the unequal
contest is soon ended by the flight of the tormented party to his
quarters, whither he is pursued to his very door.

There seems to be no foundation for the opinion generally entertained
that the natives do not suffer from the stings of these insects. The
incrustation of filth with which their bodies are covered undoubtedly
affords some protection, the skin not being so easily pierced; but no
incrustation, however thick, can be a defence against the attacks of
myriads; and in fact, the natives complain as loudly of the mosquitoes
as the whites.

The Indians of this quarter are denominated Swampies, a tribe of the
Cree nation, whose language they speak with but little variation,
and in their manners and customs there is a great similarity. But the
Swampies are a degenerate race, reduced by famine and disease to a
few families; and these have been still farther reduced by an
epidemic which raged among them this summer. They were attacked by
it immediately on their return from the interior with the produce
of their winter hunts, and remained in hopes of being benefited
by medical advice and attendance. Their hopes, however, were not
realized; they were left entirely in charge of a young man without
experience and without humanity; and the disease was unchecked. Every
day the death of some poor wretch was made known to us by the firing
of guns, by which the survivors fancied the evil spirit was frightened
away from the souls of their departed friends.

Not many years ago this part of the country was periodically visited
by immense herds of rein-deer; at present there is scarcely one to be
found. Whether their disappearance is owing to their having changed
the course of their migrations, or to their destruction by the
natives, who waylaid them on their passage, and killed them by
hundreds, is a question not easily determined. It may be they have
only forsaken this part of the country for a time, and may yet return
in as great numbers as ever: be that as it may, the present want to
which the Indians are subject, arises from the extreme scarcity of
those animals, whose flesh and skins afforded them food and clothing.
Their subsistence is now very precarious; derived principally from
snaring rabbits and fishing; and rabbits also fail periodically.

Their fare during summer, however, soon obliterates the remembrance
of the privations of winter: fish is then found in every lake, and
wild-fowl during the moulting season become an easy prey; while young
ducks and geese are approached in canoes, and are destroyed with
arrows in great numbers, ere they have acquired the use of their
wings. The white man similarly situated would undoubtedly think of
the long winter he had passed in want, and would provide for the next
while he could;--so much foresight, however, does not belong to the
Indian character.

Fishing and hunting for the establishment affords employment to a few
Indians during summer, and is an object of competition among them,
on account of the incomparable gratification it affords--grog
drinking--to which no earthly bliss can be compared in the Indian's
estimation. To find the Company serving out rum to the natives as
payment for their services in this remote quarter, created the utmost
surprise in my mind: no excuse can be advanced which can justify the
unhallowed practice, when the management of the native population is
left entirely to themselves. Why then is it continued? Strange to say,
while Indians were to be seen rolling drunk about the establishment,
an order of Council appeared, prohibiting the sale of ardent spirits
in any quantity exceeding two gallons to the Company's officers of
whatever rank, with the view of preventing the demoralization of the

Most of the natives have a smattering of English, and are said to be
a quiet, harmless race, addicted to few bad habits. Their remote
situation, and impoverished country protect them from the hostile
inroads of neighbouring tribes; hence the tame and pacific demeanour
by which they are distinguished. The poor Swampy often retires to
rest without a morsel to eat for himself or family, and that for days
together; yet he is under no apprehension from his enemies, and enjoys
his night's rest undisturbed; whereas, the warrior of the plain, while
he revels in abundance, seldom retires to rest without apprehension;
the hostile yell may, in fact, rouse him from his midnight slumber,
either to be butchered himself, or to hear the dying groans of his
family while he escapes. Thus chequered is the life of man with good
and evil in every condition, whether civilized or savage.

Every preparation for our departure being now completed, I took leave
of Fort York, its fogs, and bogs, and mosquitoes, with little regret.
We embarked on the 22d of August, in a brig that had fortunately
escaped the mishaps of the other vessels last autumn; and after being
delayed in port by adverse winds till the 26th, we finally stood out
to sea, having spoken the Prince Rupert just come in. The fields of
ice, that had been observed a few days previously, having now entirely
disappeared, the captain concluded that the passage was clear for him,
and accordingly steered for the south. He had not proceeded far in
this direction, however, when we fell in with such quantities of ice
as to interrupt our passage; but we still continued to force our
way through. Convinced at length of the futility of the attempt,
we altered our course to a directly opposite point, standing to the
north, until we came abreast of Churchill, and then bore away for
the strait, making Mansfield Island on the 7th of September. We
encountered much stream ice on our passage, from which no material
injury was sustained; although the continual knocking of our rather
frail vessel against the ice created a good deal of alarm, from the
effect the collision produced, shaking her violently from stem to

We were thus passing rapidly through the straits without experiencing
any accident worthy of notice, when I inquired of our captain, one
evening, how soon he expected to make the Island of Akpatok. He
replied, "To-morrow morning about nine o'clock." We retired to rest
about ten, P.M., and I had not yet fallen asleep, when I heard
an unusual bustle on deck, and one of the men rushing down to the
captain's room to call him up. I instantly dressed and went on
deck, where I soon learned the cause;--a dark object, scarcely
distinguishable through the fog and gloom of night, was pointed out
to me on our lee beam, two cable-lengths distant, on which we had been
rushing, propelled by wind and current, at the rate of thirteen knots
an hour, when it was observed. A few moments more, and we had been
launched into eternity. Had the vigilance of the look-out been relaxed
for a minute, or had the slightest accident occurred to prevent the
vessel from wearing at the very instant, our doom was certain.

The western extremity of the Island of Akpatok, terminating in a
high promontory seemingly cut down perpendicular to the water's edge,
formed the danger we had so providentially escaped. Next day we saw
the dismal spot in all its horrors. The island was still partially
covered with snow, and no traces of vegetation were discernible; but
a fresh breeze springing up we soon lost sight of this desolate spot,
and made the mouth of the Ungava, or South River, about an hour after
sunset. The captain was a perfect stranger on the coast, and had but a
very imperfect chart to guide him; he nevertheless stood boldly in for
the land, and fortunately discovered the mouth of the river, which we
entered as darkness closed in upon us.

By this time the breeze, that had carried us on so rapidly, increased
to a gale, so that if we had not entered the river so opportunely,
the consequences might have been serious. We were utterly unacquainted
with the coast, which presented a thousand dangers in the shape of
rocks and breakers, that were observable in every direction, as far as
the eye could reach to seaward; we therefore congratulated ourselves
on our fancied security--for it was only fancied, as will presently
appear. We kept firing as we approached the land, with the view of
apprizing the people of the post, who were directed to await us at the
mouth of the river. No sound was heard in reply until we had advanced
a few miles up the river, when we were gratified with hearing the
report of muskets, and presently several torches were visible blazing
a little ahead.

The night was uncommonly dark, the banks of the river being scarcely
perceptible; and although it appeared to me we were much nearer then
than prudence would warrant, we still drew nearer, when our progress
was suddenly arrested. The vessel struck violently on a sunken rock,
and heeled over so much that she was nearly thrown on her beam-ends.
Swinging round, however, with the force of the current, she soon got
off again; and our captain, taking the hint, instantly dropped anchor.
Soon after a couple of Esquimaux came alongside in their canoes, who
gave us to understand by signs that they were sent to pilot us to the

Next day, as soon as the tide proved favourable, our Esquimaux made
signs to weigh anchor, which being done, one of them took his station
by the side of the helmsman, and never moved a moment from the spot,
pointing out the deep channel, with which he appeared well acquainted;
although the utmost anxiety appeared depicted in his countenance, lest
any accident should happen. Once or twice we touched slightly, when
he expressed his dissatisfaction by a deep groan; he managed so well,
however, that he brought us to good anchoring ground ere nightfall.
From 10 A.M. until late in the evening we had only advanced
twenty-five miles, although we pressed against the current with
top-gallant sails set and a strong wind in our favour.

Immediately we anchored, Captain Humphrey and myself determined
on rowing up to the post, where we arrived about four, P.M. I need
scarcely say with what joy our arrival was hailed by people so
seldom visited by strangers, in a situation which had no regular
communication as yet with any other part of the world.

I was much gratified by the appearance of every thing about the
establishment. The buildings had just been finished with materials
sent out from England, through the considerate and kindly feeling of
the Committee, whose compassion had been excited by the accounts they
had heard of the miserable hovels in which the people were lodged when
the place was first settled. After passing an hour or two examining
the fort, (as it is called _par excellence_,) we returned to the
ship, and weighing anchor at an early hour the next morning, (11th
September,) we were soon brought up to the establishment, and landed
without loss of time amid a violent snow-storm. It afforded us no
small consolation, however, to reflect that we had no further cause to
apprehend danger from icebergs or rocks, and that the post afforded us
greater comfort as to living and accommodation than we had been led to

The vessel, having discharged cargo, dropped down with the stream on
the 15th, leaving us to reflect in undisturbed solitude on the dreary
prospects before us. The clank of the capstan, while the operation
of weighing was being executed, echoing from the surrounding hills,
suggested the question, "When shall that sound be heard again?" From
the melancholy reverie which this idea suggested I was roused by the
voice of my fellow exile, "the companion of my joys and sorrows," in
whose society such gloomy thoughts could not long dwell.

This post is situated in lat. 59° 28', standing on the east bank of
South River, about thirty miles distant from the sea, surrounded by
a country that presents as complete a picture of desolation as can be
imagined; moss-covered rocks without vegetation and without verdure,
constitute the cheerless landscape that greets the eye in every
direction. A few stunted pines growing in the villages form the
only exception; and at this season of the year, when they shed their
leaves, contribute but little to the improvement of the scene.



The Company having learned, through a pamphlet published by the
Moravian missionaries of Labrador, that the country produced excellent
furs, were induced by the laudable desire of "ameliorating the
condition of the natives," to settle it; and a party was accordingly
sent overland from Moose Factory to take possession in the summer of
1831. The Moravians, finding their intention thus anticipated, left
both the cure of souls and trade of furs to the Company.

Whatever may have been the Company's real motives in forming a
settlement in this quarter, the profits derived from it added but
little to the dividends; the substance that glittered at a distance
like gold proved to be but base metal. Beavers were nowhere to be
found; and although the martens brought an extraordinary high price,
they were far from plentiful; while the enormous expense of supplying
the district by sea, and supporting it on imported provisions,
rendered the "Ungava adventure" a subject of rather unpleasant
discussion among the partners, most of whom were opposed to the
measure from the first.

Mr. Simpson was, in fact, the prime mover of the project, and aware
of the discontent caused by its failure, determined on making every
effort to reduce the expense, and, if possible, to increase the
returns. Accordingly, I was directed to push outposts into the
interior, to support my people on the resources of the country, and at
the same time to open a communication with Esquimaux Bay, on the coast
of Labrador, with the view of obtaining in future my supplies from
thence by inland route; "there being no question of the practicability
of the rivers." So said not he who had seen those rivers.

Mr. Erlandson had traversed the country in the spring of 1834, and
represented to me the utter impossibility of carrying my instructions
into effect. Meantime, the Committee, having learned by despatches
from York Factory that the vessel intended for the business of the
district had been lost, and the other, in which I made my passage,
placed in so critical a situation as to render her safety in spring a
very doubtful matter, considered it advisable to provide for the worst
by freighting a small schooner to carry us out our supplies. This
vessel very unexpectedly made her appearance on the 22d of September,
and we thus found ourselves supplied with goods and provisions for two
years' consumption.

Having, as above mentioned, learned from Mr. Erlandson the
difficulties of the inland route, and also that a great number of the
natives had gone to Esquimaux Bay, with the intention of remaining
there, I considered it incumbent upon me to visit that quarter at an
early period of the winter, and I accordingly set out from Fort Chimo
on the 2d of January. I submit the following narrative of my journey
to the reader.

"_Tuesday, the 2d of January_, 1838.--I left Fort Chimo at eleven
A.M., accompanied by the following men, _viz._:--

"Donald Henderson, Henry Hay, and two Indian guides, who are to
accompany me throughout the journey; Pierre Neven and M. Ferguson
go part of the way, each driving a sled of two dogs, loaded with
provisions, the other men having sleds drawn by themselves.

"_Wednesday, the 3d._--Left our encampment before dawn of day.
Excessively cold--some of us got frost-bitten, but not severely. Our
principal guide, finding his companion unable to keep up with us,
set off to his lodge in quest of a substitute. Encamped early, having
proceeded about nine miles.

"_Thursday, the 4th._--Started at seven A.M. Reached High Fall Creek
at nine A.M. Halted to wait for our guide, who soon joined us, alone,
finding no person willing to accompany him. Resumed our march at
half-past nine; had not proceeded far, when we perceived that our
young guide, Pellican, was left considerably in the rear. We waited
till he overtook us, and the miserable creature appearing completely
exhausted with fatigue, we encamped at an early hour. Eight miles.

"_Friday, the 5th._--Lightened Pellican's sled, and set off at five
A.M.; fine weather, though sharp. Advanced sixteen miles.

"_Saturday, the 6th._--As the ice was covered with water close to our
encampment, it was deemed advisable to await the light of day. Set off
at eight A.M., but found it impossible to move forward in consequence
of the immense quantity of snow that had fallen during the night. It
continuing still to snow, and blowing a violent gale at same time, I
gave up the struggle. Advanced about a mile.

"_Sunday, the 7th._--Got up about three A.M., literally buried in
snow. Our blankets being wet, we waited in our encampment drying them
till eight o'clock, when we started with only half loads, with which
we intended to proceed to the first lake, and then return for the
remainder; but to our great satisfaction we soon discovered that the
tempest which had incommoded us so much last night had cleared the
ice of snow; we therefore returned for the property we had left; then
proceeding at a fine rate, having beautiful weather, we soon reached
the lake; when my guides, discovering a herd of deer on an adjacent
hill, immediately set off at a bound, followed by Pellican and my
two _brules_. I saw at once my day's journey was at an end, and
accordingly directed my encampment to be made. Our hunters joined us
in the evening with the choice parts of three deer they had killed.
Proceeded eight miles.

"_Monday, the 8th._--Very cold, tempestuous weather. Our progress was
much retarded by the great depth of snow in the woods through which
our route lay. Thirteen miles.

"_Tuesday, the 9th._--Blowing a hurricane; the cold being also
intense, we could not venture out on the ice without incurring the
risk of being frost-bitten; we therefore remained in our quarters,
such as they were, until the weather should moderate.

"_Wednesday, the 10th._--My guides appeared very unwilling to quit
their encampment this morning, pretending indisposition. They might
have been really ill; but the beastly manner in which they had been
gorging themselves for the past two days being well known to be the
cause of their illness, no one felt disposed to pity them. I therefore
sprang into their encampment, and pitching the remainder of their
choice morsels into the snow, drove them out before me. Travelled
through woods the whole day. Encamped at half-past three. Eighteen

"_Thursday, the 11th._--Started at five, A.M. Soon fell on a large
lake, on which we travelled till three, P.M., when we encamped. Thus
far the lake extends S.E. and N.W., being about two miles in width.
As Mr. Erlandson was the first European who had traversed these
inhospitable wilds, I had the gratification of giving his name to
the lake. It is reported by the natives to abound in fish of the best
quality; rein-deer are also said to be numerous at certain seasons of
the year. Proceeded fifteen miles.

"_Friday, the 12th._--Being immoderately cold, and the wind blowing
direct in our faces, we could not attempt travelling on the lake.

"_Saturday, the 13th._--Weather fine. Left Erlandson's Lake about one,
A.M.; it still stretched out before us as far as the eye could reach,
and cannot be less than forty miles in length; its medium breadth,
however, does not exceed two miles and a half. The circumjacent
country is remarkably well wooded, even to the tops of the highest
hills, and is reported by the natives to abound in martens. A few
industrious Indians would not fail to turn such advantages to good
account; but they can avail the Company very little, while the natives
alone are in possession of them. Went on twenty-four miles.

"_Sunday, the 14th._--Set off at five, A.M. Passed over several small
lakes; the country well wooded. Entered upon a small river about noon,
the banks covered with large pine. Encamped at three, P.M. Advanced
sixteen miles.

"_Monday, the 15th._--Took our departure at seven, A.M. Travelled
without halting the whole day. Eighteen miles.

"_Tuesday, the 16th._--Decamped at five, A.M.; the snow very deep in
the woods. Fell on Whale River at ten, A.M. The face of the country
presents scarcely any variety; from Erlandson's Lake to this river
it is generally well wooded, but afterwards becomes extremely
barren, nothing to be seen on both sides of the river but bare rocks.
Proceeded sixteen miles.

"_Wednesday, the 17th._--Started at five, A.M. Our route in the
morning led us through a chain of small lakes, and brought us out
again on Whale River, on which we travelled till four, P.M. The
appearance of the country much the same as described yesterday.
Proceeded eighteen miles.

"_Thursday, the 18th._--P. Neven being unable to travel from
indisposition, I resolved on passing the day to await the issue,
deeming his malady to be of no very serious nature. In the meantime
I took an exact account of my provisions which I found to be so far
reduced, that no further assistance was required for its conveyance. I
accordingly made the necessary arrangements to send the men back.

"_Friday, the 19th._--Early in the morning, P. Neven (being now
convalescent) and Mordoch Ferguson set off on their return, whilst I
and my party proceeded on our onward route. I retained a sled of dogs,
intending to drive them myself. We travelled eleven miles on Whale
River, then struck across the country to the eastward. Encamped at
four, P.M. Fourteen miles.

"_Saturday, the 20th._--The moon affording no longer light to find
our way in the night, we must now wait till daylight. Started at seven
A.M.; crossed a point of wood, chiefly larch, of a miserably small
growth; then came out on a large lake (comparatively speaking), on
which we travelled till four, P.M. Thirteen miles.

"_Sunday, the 21st._--Set off at seven A.M. About eleven, we fell on
the fresh tracks of a large herd of deer, which my guides carefully
examined; their experience not only enabling them to determine the
precise time they had passed, but the very spot where they were likely
to be found, which they affirmed was close to us. My dogs being very
much reduced, and not having the means of increasing their present
modicum of food, I determined on availing myself of an opportunity
which might not again occur of procuring a supply. The Indians
accordingly set off in quest of them, desiring us at their departure
to make no fire until the sun had reached a certain position in the
heavens which they pointed out to us. We made our encampment at the
time appointed, and were soon joined by our hunters, dragging after
them a fine doe; they had got only one shot at the herd, which
immediately took to the bare hills, where pursuit was in vain. Our
guides being encamped by themselves, I was curious to ascertain by
ocular evidence the manner in which the first kettle would be disposed
of, nor did I wait long till my curiosity was gratified. The cannibals
fell upon the half-cooked flesh with a voracity which I could not have
believed even savages capable of; and in an incredibly short space
of time the kettle was disposed of;--and this, too, after their usual
daily allowance, which is equal to, and sometimes exceeds, that of the
other men, who say they have enough. Proceeded seven miles.

"_Monday, the 22nd._--On examining the remains of the deer this
morning, I found my quadrupeds would benefit but little by my good
intentions and loss of time, our guides having applied themselves so
sedulously to the doe during the night, as to leave but little for
their canine brethren. We started at seven, A.M., the travelling very
heavy in the woods. About noon we came upon a large lake, where we
made better speed. Thirteen miles.

"_Tuesday, the 23rd._--Travelled through woods the greater part of the
day; encamped at four o'clock. Sixteen miles.

"_Wednesday, the 24th._--Decamped at seven, A.M. Our route lay through
swamps and small lakes, with strips of wood intervening. Martens
appear to be numerous, but beavers must be extremely rare, for we have
discovered no traces whatever of their existence anywhere along our
route, though innumerable small lakes and rivers, such as beavers
frequent, are to be met with in every direction; but the country
produces no food for them. At ten A.M. we arrived at a considerable
lake, where my guides told me we had reached the highest land. On
asking them if this were the lake where we intended to build, they
pointed to the south-west, saying it was four days' journey off in
that direction!--so far had I been led from the route I intended to
have followed, notwithstanding the perfect understanding I had with
my perfidious guides prior to our departure from the establishment.
Encamped at three, P.M. Twelve miles.

"_Thursday, the 25th._--Immediately on leaving our encampment, we
fell on a large river flowing to the north-east, which I took to be
George's River. We followed it for a short distance, and then directed
our course over bare hills. Encamped at three, P.M. Eleven miles.

"_Friday, the 26th._--Having passed the night in a clump of small
pines, which sheltered us from the inclemency of the weather, we
were not aware of the violence of the storm which was raging round
us, until, pursuing our route over a ridge of bare hills, we were
completely exposed to its fury. We found the cold intense, the wind
blowing in our faces, so that it was impossible to proceed. Observing
a hummock of wood close to us, we shaped our course for it, where we
were no sooner arrived, than it began to snow and drift. The few trees
to which we had retreated being far apart, and the wind blowing
with the utmost violence, we experienced the greatest difficulty in
clearing an encampment. The storm continuing unabated, we passed a
miserable day in our snow burrow. Two miles.

"_Saturday, the 27th._--Arose from our comfortless _couché_ at
half-past four. The snow having drifted over us, and being melted
by the heat of the fire in the early part of the night, we found our
blankets and capotes hard frozen in the morning. Thawing and drying
them occupied us till nine A.M., when we set off. Snow very deep.
Proceeded nine miles.

"_Sunday, the 28th._--Set off at seven, A.M. Snow still increasing
in depth, and our progress decreasing in proportion. At one, P.M., we
came upon a large river flowing to the north, on which we travelled a
short distance; then followed the course of a small stream running in
an easterly direction. Leaving this stream, our route lay over marshes
and small lakes; the country flat, yielding dwarf pine intermixed with
larch. Encamped at half-past four; advanced eight miles.

"_Monday, the 29th._--Started at seven. Appearance of the country much
the same as yesterday. Fifteen miles.

"_Tuesday, the 30th._--Decamped at seven. Weather mild, and walking
heavy. Our principal guide appears rapidly declining in strength,
which does not surprise me, considering the laborious duty he has
had to perform; always beating the track a-head, without being once
relieved by his worthless associate. Fourteen miles.

"_Wednesday, the 31st._--Started at seven. Still very mild. Observed a
few small birch trees. Encamped at four, P.M. Fifteen miles.

"_Thursday, the 1st of February._--Started at the usual hour. We have
been travelling through a very rough country for these two days past.
The fact is, that our guides, having only passed here in summer,
are unacquainted with the winter track. We are, therefore, evidently
pursuing a circuitous course, which, with every other disadvantage,
subjects us to the risk of running short of provisions,--a contingency
which our reduced stock warns us to prepare for ere long. We can
afford no more food to the dogs; their load is now transferred to the
men's sleds. Fifteen miles.

"_Friday, the 2d._--Decamped at seven, A.M. Pursued our route over
extensive swamps and small lakes, where there is scarcely any wood to
be seen. The face of the surrounding country being level, the least
elevation commands a most extensive view; but the eye turns away in
disgust from the cheerless prospect which the desolate flats present.
I deemed it expedient to curtail our allowance of provisions this
evening. Eighteen miles.

"_Saturday, the 3d._--Set off at seven, A.M. Reached Michigama Lake at
one, P.M.; on which we travelled till five o'clock, when we encamped
on an island. Proceeded twenty miles.

"_Sunday, the 4th._--Left our encampment at the usual hour. Halted
for our scanty meal at ten, A.M. After an hour's delay we resumed our
march, and encamped at four, P.M., on an island near the mainland on
the east side of the lake, having performed about twenty miles. I here
repeated to the Indians my earnest wish to proceed to Esquimaux Bay,
by North River, which takes its rise in this lake. They replied that
nothing could induce them to comply with my wishes, as inevitable
starvation would be the consequence; no game could be found by
the way, and we would have, therefore, to depend solely on our own
provisions, which were barely sufficient for the shortest route. I
had thus the mortification to find, that I should entirely fail in
accomplishing the main object I had in view in crossing the country.

"_Monday, the 5th._--Decamped at seven, A.M. Reached the mainland at
half-past eight; then ascended a river flowing from the north-east,
which discharges itself into Michigama Lake, Pellican taking the
lead, being the only one acquainted with this part of the country. The
Indians shot an otter. No wood to be seen, but miserably small pine,
thinly scattered over the country. Encamped at Gull Lake. Fifteen

"_Tuesday, the 6th._--Left our encampment at seven. Our guide lost his
way about noon, which after an hour's search, he succeeded in finding;
when we resumed our slow march, Pellican proceeding at a snail's pace,
which neither threats nor entreaties could in the least accelerate.
Encamped at five, P.M. Eleven miles.

"_Wednesday, the 7th._--Started at half-past six, A.M. Arrived at the
site of an extensive Indian camp, which appeared to have been recently
occupied. Our guides knowing the Indians to be their friends from
Ungava, and their trail leading in the direction of our route,
required no longer to be urged on. An immediate impulse was given to
Pellican's sluggish motions, increasing his speed to such a degree,
that it required our utmost exertions to keep up with him. Encamped
near a high fall on North-West River, which is here walled in by
inaccessible precipices on both sides. The view above the fall is
interrupted by stupendous rocks; the natives say that the appearance
of the river and surrounding country is the same from this fall to
Michigama Lake; the river is deemed to be impracticable for any kind
of craft. Eighteen miles.

"_Thursday, the 8th._--Set off at seven, A.M. Fine travelling on
the river. We passed two portages and rapids. Encamped at forty-five
minutes past five. Twenty miles.

"_Friday, the 9th._--Decamped at seven. Travelling good; the banks
of the river high and precipitous, and almost destitute of wood. We
observed, however, a few birches. Encamped at six, P.M. Twenty miles.

"_Saturday, the 10th._--Started at eight, A.M. About noon we arrived
at a wide expansion of the river, where it suddenly bends to the west.
Here we again quitted the river, directing our course to the eastward.
The navigation of this part of the river is represented by the natives
to be impracticable, and similar to the upper part. Our snow-shoes
being the worse for wear, we encamped at an early hour for the purpose
of repairing them. Advanced fifteen miles.

"_Sunday, the 11th._--Decamped at seven, A.M. Pursued our course
through the roughest country I ever travelled. The appearance of it
struck me as resembling the ocean when agitated by a storm, supposing
its billows transformed into solid rock. We commenced ascending
and descending in the morning, and kept at it till night. The men
complained much of fatigue. Proceeded fourteen miles.

"_Monday, the 12th._--The weather being so much overcast that we
could not find our way, we remained in our encampment till eight, A.M.
Encamped at a quarter past five. Fifteen miles.

"_Tuesday, the 13th._--Set off at half-past seven, amidst a tremendous
snow-storm, which continued without intermission the whole day;
we sunk knee-deep in the snow, and found it not the most pleasant
recreation in the world. About noon we passed a hut, which my guide
told me had been the residence of a trader, two years ago. Late in the
evening we arrived at another hut, on North West River, where we found
two of Mr. McGillivray's people, who were stationed there for the
purpose of trapping martens. Nine miles.

"_Wednesday, the 14th._--The weather being unpropitious, and finding
ourselves very snug in our present quarters, we passed the day
enjoying the comfort of a roof.

"_Thursday, the 15th._--Left our Canadian hosts at early dawn;
the snow very deep on the river. Proceeded till ten, A.M., when D.
Henderson was suddenly seized by a violent fit, which completely
incapacitated him from travelling. Discovering a hut close by, a fire
was immediately kindled in it, and a place prepared for our invalid to
lie down; in our present circumstances nothing more could be done. I
waited by him till two, P.M., then pursued my route, accompanied by
the Indians, leaving H. Hay to take care of him. Accomplished fourteen

"_Friday, the 16th._--Set off at four, A.M. Arrived at dusk at Port
Smith, where, although I was well known, my Esquimaux dress and long
beard defied recognition, until I announced myself by name.

"_Saturday, the 17th._--An Indian was despatched early in the morning,
to meet my men with a supply of the north-west panacea, Turlington
Balsam; and I was glad to see them arrive in the evening, more in want
of food than medicine."

Two days after our arrival, all the Nascopie or Ungava Indians, at
present residing in this part of the country, numbering seventy
or eighty souls, came to the establishment, with the produce of
their winter hunts. Mr. McGillivray and myself having come to an
understanding regarding them, we both addressed them, representing
to them the advantages they would derive from having posts so
conveniently situated on their lands, &c. After some deliberation
among themselves, they expressed their intention to be guided by our
advice, and to return forthwith to their lands. Having sent off my
despatches by Indian couriers, for Mashquaro, on the 3d of March, to
be forwarded thence to Canada, _via_ the Company's posts along the
Gulf and River St. Lawrence, I sent H. Hay for my guides (who had
gone to pay the _kettles_ of their friends a visit), preparatory to my
departure hence, which has been deferred to a much later period than
I had calculated upon, from the prevalence of excessively bad weather
for a fortnight.

Hay, having met the Indians on the way, returned the same evening; but
they were so emaciated that I could scarcely recognise them, looking
like so many spectres--a metamorphosis caused by the influenza, at
that time prevalent in the country. My principal guide, however,
declared himself able to proceed on the journey, with a light load;
and it was arranged that Pellican should accompany his relative. Two
young men, who came in with my guide, appearing not quite so much
reduced as the others, I proposed to them to accompany me as far
as Michigama Lake, to assist in hauling our provisions, which they
consented to do; and they accordingly took their departure along
with my guide, on the 4th of March. Myself and two men, along with my
"husky" interpreter, followed next morning; but as we are to retrace
our steps by the same way we came, it will be unnecessary to narrate
the occurrences of each day.

We arrived in the evening at the first Indian camp, where I found one
of the young men I had hired, relapsed into his former malady, and
unable to proceed further. This, although a disappointment, did not
much affect me, as I had hopes my guide would be able to continue his
route, from the circumstance of his having passed on to the farthest
camp. When we arrived, about noon next day, and found, not only our
guide, but every individual in the camp, suffering under the fatal
malady,--this was the climax to my disappointment. I determined on
returning to Fort Smith with my guide, where, by proper treatment, I
hoped he might yet recover in time to admit of my returning before the
end of the season.

I accordingly returned, accompanied by H. Hay, who conducted the
dog-sledge, on which I had placed my sick Indian, leaving D. Henderson
in charge of the provisions, along with the Esquimaux. On the morning
of the 9th, I despatched H. Hay to join Henderson, with directions to
haul the provisions on to McGillivray's hut, there to await further

My guide, for a few days, appeared to be in a hopeless state, refusing
sustenance of any kind, and became delirious. This was the crisis
of the malady; for he soon began to take some food, and recovered
strength daily. He at length proposed to attempt the journey, to which
I joyfully assented; and once more took leave of Fort Smith, on the
19th of March, and joined my men next day.

Remaining two days, to give the guide time to recruit his strength, I
started on the morning of the 23d; the Indians had recovered strength
enough to enable them to proceed towards their winter deposit of
provisions, near Michigama Lake, leaving us an excellent track. We
overtook them on the 26th. I found it impossible to separate my guide
from his relatives while we pursued the same route. We arrived on the
30th at their last stage, and encamped together.

Next morning as we were about to start, a message arrived from my
guide, announcing his determination to proceed no farther, unless
Pellican were permitted to accompany us. I sent for him immediately,
and endeavoured to impress on his mind the unreasonableness of
such a proposition, our provisions being scarcely sufficient for
ourselves--that it would expose the whole party to the risk of
starvation; but I addressed a thing without reason and without
understanding, and was accordingly obliged, once more, to yield.

We reached the highest land on the 2d of April, where, on examining
our remaining stock of provisions, the alarming fact that it was
altogether insufficient to carry us to the establishment, was but too
apparent. It was therefore necessary to take immediate measures to
avert, if possible, an evil that threatened so fearful consequences;
and the only course that presented itself was to divide into two
parties,--the one to proceed with all possible despatch to the fort,
by the shortest route, and to send forward a supply to the other,
which it was anticipated would reach them ere they were reduced to
absolute want.

Pursuant to this resolution I set off, accompanied by the guide and
H. Hay; leaving D. Henderson to make the best of his way, with the
Esquimaux and Pellican. Having taken but a very small share of the
provisions with us, and meeting with no game on the way, we were
soon reduced to the utmost extremity. One of our dogs being starved
to death, we were ultimately obliged to knock the surviving one on
the head, to supply ourselves with what we considered, in present
circumstances, "food for the gods." Such as it was, it enabled us to
keep soul and body together till we reached Fort Chimo, on the 20th
of April, where we found all the Nascopies of this part of the country
assembled to greet the arrival of their long-expected friends--our
guides. I immediately selected a couple of smart-looking lads to go to
meet my rear-guard,--the other servants about the establishment, who
were accustomed to snow-shoes, being absent, watching the deer.

On the third day after their departure the couriers returned, with
Pellican. On inquiring of the latter what had become of my men, he
replied that he had left them encamped at a lake about sixty miles
distant, where the Esquimaux, abandoning himself to despair, could
not be prevailed upon to go a step farther; and that he (Pellican)
had been sent forward by Henderson to urge on the party whom they
expected. They were within a day's journey of them; and yet the
wretches returned immediately on meeting Pellican, leaving the others
to their fate. No Indians I had ever known would have acted so basely;
yet these are an "unsophisticated race" of aborigines, who have but
little intercourse with the whites, and must, of course, be free from
the contamination of their manners. Our hunters being now arrived,
were sent off, without delay, in quest of the missing; and I had the
satisfaction to see my famished _compagnons de voyage_ arrive, on the
26th of April.



Having thus ascertained the impracticability of the inland
communication, I transmitted the result of my observations to the
Governor--a report which, I doubt not, proved rather unpalatable to
his Excellency, unaccustomed as he is to have any of his movements
checked by that impudent and uncompromising word--impossible. I
was much gratified to find that the deer-hunt had proved uncommonly
successful; so that I had now the means of carrying into effect the
Governor's instructions on this point. On the approach of spring,
preparations were made for establishing a post inland; guides were
hired for the purpose, and every precaution taken to insure success.

At this time I was visited by a very grievous affliction, in the loss
of my beloved wife, whose untimely death left me in a more wretched
condition than words can express. This was truly an eventful year for
me;--within that space I became a husband, a father, and a widower;--I
traversed the continent of America, performing a voyage of some
1,500 miles by sea, and a journey by land of fully 1,200 miles, on

As soon as the navigation became practicable (June 18), Mr. Erlandson
set off for the interior, with his outfit, in three small canoes, and
after much toil reached his destination on the 10th of July. On the
return of the men who had assisted in the transport, I fitted out
an expedition to explore the coast to the westward, with the view of
ascertaining the capabilities of that quarter, for the extension of
the business. The party was absent about a month; and their report
was entirely unfavourable to the project of carrying our "ameliorating
system" so far. The navigation of the coast is exceedingly dangerous,
from the continual presence of ice, and the extraordinary force of the
currents. While the coast proved so inaccessible, the interior of the
country wears a still more dreary and sterile aspect; not a tree, nor
shrub, nor plant of any land, is to be seen, save the lichens that
cover the rocks, and a few willows. The native Esquimaux, whom our
people had seen, evinced the same amicable disposition by which their
whole race is distinguished. They received our people with open arms,
and some of the young damsels seemed disposed to cultivate a closer
intimacy with them than their ideas of propriety, or at least their
olfactory nerves, would sanction. The effluvia that proceeds from
their persons in the summer season is quite insufferable; it is as if
you applied your nose to a cask of rancid oil.

In the course of the summer, several Esquimaux arrived from the
westward, with a considerable quantity of fox-skins,--the only fur
this barren country yields. Some of these poor creatures had passed
nearly two years on their journey hither, being obliged to hunt or
fish for their living as they travelled. They set off on their return
with a little tobacco, or a few strings of beads;--very few having the
means of procuring guns and ammunition.

Nothing worthy of notice occurred till the month of September, when
I was gratified by the arrival of despatches from Canada, by a
junior clerk appointed to the district. By him we received the first
intelligence of the stirring events that had taken place in the
colonies during the preceding year. The accounts of the triumphs of my
countrymen's arms over French treachery and Yankee hatred, diverted
my thoughts, for the first time, from the melancholy subject of my
late bereavement; the thoughts of which my solitude served rather to
cherish than dispel.

Having learned from the natives that a river fell into the bay,
about eighty miles to the eastward, that offered greater facilities
for carrying on the business in the interior than our present
communication, I ordered the men who had assisted Mr. Erlandson,
to descend by this river,--an enterprise which was successfully
accomplished. Their report confirming that of the natives, I forthwith
determined on establishing a post there; and the season being now
far advanced, I had no sooner decided on the step than I set about
carrying it into execution. A party was despatched with every
requisite for the purpose, about the 15th of September; and I received
a communication from them in October, informing me that they had
discovered a convenient situation for erecting the buildings. The
materials being found on the spot, and the men aware of the approach
of winter, and straining every nerve to secure themselves against its
rigours, the buildings, such as they were, were raised and already

In the early part of winter, being, I may say, entirely alone,--for
there remained only one man and an interpreter with me,--I amused
myself by shooting partridges, which abounded in the neighbourhood
that season; but the cold became so excessive as the winter advanced,
that I was compelled to forego that amusement, and confine myself to
the four walls of my prison, with the few books I possessed as my only
companions. My despatches for the civilized world being completed, I
was altogether at a loss how to forward them, as none of the natives
could be induced, even by a high reward, to undertake the journey. At
length one was found who consented to accompany one of my men to Mr.
Erlandson's post, but no farther.

My couriers were absent six weeks, and I had the mortification to
learn on their return that the packet remained at the outpost,
owing to an accident that befel one of the Indian guides, and which
incapacitated him for the trip. Our friends would thus remain in
ignorance of our fate for nearly two years. The report received
regarding the inland adventure proved very satisfactory as far as the
trade was concerned; but the privations suffered by those engaged in
it, it was painful to learn; their sole subsistence consisted of fish,
rendered extremely unpalatable from the damage it had sustained from
the heat of the sun, and a few rabbits and partridges. Who would not
be an Indian trader?

Early in the month of March the rein-deer made their appearance again,
and every countenance brightened up at the thoughts of the approaching
pastime. I fell on a plan, however, that divested the sport of much
of its attractions, although calculated to ensure greater success.
A favourable position being selected, a certain extent of ground was
fenced in so as to form a "pound" of nearly a circular shape, a gap
being left in it to admit the game from the river side. This done, I
caused branches to be placed on the ice above and below the deer pass,
which the animals observing, became alarmed, and running from side to
side of the open space between the lines of branches, at length made a
dash at the opposite side of the river, and entered the trap prepared
for them at a gallop, continuing at the top of their speed until
stopped by the upper part of the "pound," when they wheeled round, and
making for the entrance, were received with a volley of balls from
the huntsmen; a continual fire being kept up upon them in this manner
until they all dropped.

The scene presented by the slaughter was anything but agreeable, yet
stern necessity compelled me to continue the butchery; and the success
that attended my scheme far exceeded my expectations. The first herd
that entered, in number about fifty, burst through the fence; but our
works were immediately strengthened, so as to defy their efforts in
future to escape. A herd of 300 was soon after entrapped, and in the
course of two hours all were killed.

Having thus obtained an ample stock of provisions, the different
parties employed at the fishing and hunting stations were recalled,
and preparations were begun for our summer campaign, in which I
determined to take an active part. The favourable report of last
summer respecting the East or George's River, combined with reports
that had reached me since of another large river flowing a short
distance to the south of Esquimaux Bay, suggested the possibility of
carrying on our business on this line of communication. With the view,
therefore, of carrying this design into effect, I had a boat built
in the course of the winter, in which I embarked with a strong crew
on the 25th of June, the river not being clear of ice at an earlier
period; and sweeping down on the top of the current at railroad speed,
reached the sea in about three hours.

It being still early in the day, and no ice to be seen, we pulled for
the opposite side of the bay, in the hope of reaching it ere dark. The
weather being perfectly calm we advanced rapidly, and had proceeded
about seven miles with every prospect of effecting our purpose,
when lo! the tide was observed to be making against us; and the ice
returning with it, apparently in a compact body, we were placed in
rather a critical situation. The sun was declining, while the coast
presented a solid wall of ice, which precluded the possibility of
landing anywhere nearer than the mouth of South River.

Towards that point, therefore, the head of the boat was directed, and
the crew, seeing the imminence of the danger, rowed with all their
might; and by dint of strenuous exertions, we made good our landing
ere the ice closed in around us. A few minutes after not a speck of
water could be descried.

Next morning, the ice still covered the bay, leaving only a narrow
strip of open water along the shore; into this channel we pushed our
boat, and for some time made but little progress, being continually
interrupted by pieces of ice, which the high tide detached from the
shore. Our channel, however, soon widened, and in a short time not
a particle of ice could be seen, disappearing as if by magic; for
in a few minutes after it began to move, no traces of it could be
discovered as far as the eye could reach to seaward. We reached East
or George's River, without further interruption, on the 3d of July,
where we were detained by unfavourable weather until the 5th.

The post established here last autumn is situated in a still more
cheerless spot than Fort Chimo, being surrounded by rugged hills,
whose sides are covered with the _débris_ of rock, which appears to
have been detached from the hills by the process of decay. The post
stands at the foot of one of those frightful hills, while another
rises immediately in front; the intervening valleys, or cavities,
present nothing to enliven the scene, save a few stunted pines, and
here and there a patch of snow.

The few Esquimaux who inhabit this region of sterility and desolation,
at first appeared delighted with the idea of having whites among them:
finding, however, that our presence yielded them no advantage, they
soon became indifferent about us, and proceeded to the Moravian
settlement with the produce of their hunts, where they obtained their
little wants at a far cheaper rate than our tariff allowed.

My crew, leaving Fort Siviright, consisted of ten able men; and
an Indian guide accompanied us in his canoe. As we ascended, our
difficulties increased at every step, the water being much lower than
last year. I found myself engaged in a more laborious work than I had
ever yet undertaken--towing the boat day after day against a current
flowing in a continuous rapid, so as to admit of not one moment's
relaxation, unless during the short interval allowed for rest to
such as could take it--no easy matter when myriads of sand-flies and
mosquitoes filled the air and tortured us incessantly.

We continued to advance in this manner, hauling, pulling, carrying,
and even launching the boat for about fifteen days, when we reached
an expansion of the river, without any perceptible current, and
sufficiently deep to admit of the use of the oar.

Our labour was now supposed to be at an end by those who had explored
the river; no further doubts were entertained as to our soon reaching
Esquimaux Bay, where letters from our friends and news from all
quarters would reward us for all our toils. Let not him who knows not
what it is to be shut out from his friends, society, and the great
world, year after year, think lightly of the reward which the solitary
trader, in his remote seclusion, values so highly. Our hopes, however,
were soon dissipated. Having reached the upper extremity of the
still water, we encountered difficulties that defied every attempt to

The lake just referred to proved to be the source of the lower
stream; the rivulet that flowed into it from above being so shallow
as scarcely to admit of the passage of a small canoe. It was therefore
impossible to proceed with the boat, a circumstance that placed me in
a rather perplexing position; for I had the outfit for the interior in
charge, without which the business, so lately established with every
prospect of success, would fail.

There was, however, no time to be lost in vain regrets; the advanced
period of the season required instant decision, and our stock
of provisions was diminishing rapidly. I therefore determined on
proceeding to the outpost in the small canoe belonging to our guide,
taking two of the men with me, and leaving the rest of the crew to
erect a temporary post; and in the mean time sent my guide to apprize
the Indians in the vicinity of the steps I had taken to supply their
wants next winter.

These arrangements completed, I embarked in an eggshell of a canoe, so
small as not to admit of anything save the smallest possible supply
of provisions,--tent, basket, &c. remaining behind. Soon after leaving
our encampment, we came to a portage some ten miles in length, and
struck the river again, where, from the report of the men, I expected
no further difficulties would impede our progress. But the event did
not answer my expectations; from the continual drought of the season
the water proved so low that we had to drag along our canoe, wading in
the water, where a boat would have passed with ease last year. In this
manner we continued our toilsome voyage without relaxation for several
days, carrying our canoe and baggage overland, or wading in the water
from early dawn until late at night, when we threw ourselves down
on the ground to pass the night without shelter from the weather
or protection from the stings of our merciless persecutors the
mosquitoes, who pursued their avocation with unwearied assiduity,
so that our rest was small, and that little afforded us but scanty

Our progress, but slow, from the difficulties of the route, was
rendered still slower by our frequent deviations from our course; my
guides having paid but little attention to their instructions last
year. We at length reached the post on the 16th of August, half
starved, half naked, and half devoured. A friendly reception, and the
good cheer the place afforded, soon restored our spirits, if not our
"inexpressibles;" and although much annoyed that no Indians could
be induced to guide us to Esquimaux Bay, I determined on making the
attempt with such assistance as Mr. Erlandson could give me, who was
well acquainted with the upper part of the river.

After one day's rest, we embarked in a canoe sufficiently large to
contain several conveniences, to which I had been for some time a
stranger,--a tent to shelter us by night, and tea to cheer us by
day; we fared, too, like princes, on the produce of "sea and land,"
procured by the net and the gun. We thus proceeded gaily on our
downward course without meeting any interruption, or experiencing any
difficulty in finding our way; when, one evening, the roar of a mighty
cataract burst upon our ears, warning us that danger was at hand.
We soon reached the spot, which presented to us one of the grandest
spectacles in the world, but put an end to all hopes of success in our

About six miles above the fall the river suddenly contracts, from a
width of from four hundred to six hundred yards, to about one hundred
yards; then rushing along in a continuous foaming rapid, finally
contracts to a breadth of about fifty yards, ere it precipitates
itself over the rock which forms the fall; when, still roaring and
foaming, it continues its maddened course for about a distance of
thirty miles, pent up between walls of rock that rise sometimes to
the height of three hundred feet on either side. This stupendous fall
exceeds in height the Falls of Niagara, but bears no comparison to
that sublime object in any other respect, being nearly hidden from the
view by the abrupt angle which the rocks form immediately beneath it.
If not seen, however, it is felt; such is the extraordinary force with
which it tumbles into the abyss underneath, that we felt the solid
rock shake under our feet, as we stood two hundred feet above the
gulf. A dense cloud of vapour, which can be seen at a great distance
in clear weather, hangs over the spot. From the fall to the foot of
the rapid--a distance of thirty miles--the zigzag course of the river
presents such sharp angles, that you see nothing of it until within a
few yards of its banks. Might not this circumstance lead the geologist
to the conclusion that the fall had receded this distance? The mind
shrinks from the contemplation of a subject that carries it back to
a period of time so very remote; for if the rock,--syenite, always
possessed its present solidity and hardness, the action of the water
alone might require millions of years to produce such a result!

After carrying our canoe and baggage for a whole day through bogs, and
swamps, and windfalls, in the hope of finding the river accessible, we
at length gave up the attempt; and with heavy hearts and weary limbs
retracing our steps, we reached the outpost, without accident, after
an absence of fifteen days. Finding it impossible to remove either
the returns, or the small quantity of goods remaining on hand, I
determined on leaving a couple of the men to pass the winter here;
and Mr. Erlandson accompanied me to assume the charge of the temporary
post, where I had left his outfit. Here we arrived on the 1st of
September, and I was delighted at finding my men living in the midst
of abundance;--the surrounding country apparently abounding with
rein-deer, and the lake affording fish of the best quality. I remained
with the men two days to expedite the buildings which were yet
unfinished; and in the meantime a party of Indians arrived, whom we
persuaded to carry our despatches to Esquimaux Bay.

After seeing my couriers off, I left Mr. Erlandson with two men to
share his solitude, and reached the sea without experiencing any
adventure worth notice. Proceeding along the coast, I was induced, one
evening, by the flattering appearance of the weather, to attempt the
passage of a deep bay; which being accomplished, there was little
danger of being delayed afterwards by stress of weather. This step I
soon had cause to repent. The sea hitherto presented a smooth surface;
not a breath of wind was felt, and the stars shone out brightly. A few
clouds began to appear on the horizon; and the boat began to rise
and fall with the heaving of the sea. Understanding what these signs
portended, we immediately pulled for the shore; but had scarcely
altered our course when the stars disappeared, a tremendous noise
struck upon our ears from seaward, and the storm was upon us. In the
impenetrable obscurity of the night, not a trace of land could be
discovered; but we continued to ply our oars, while each succeeding
billow threatened immediate destruction.

The horrors of our situation increased; the man on the out-look
called out that he saw breakers a-head in every direction, and escape
appeared to be next to impossible. My crew of Scottish Islanders,
however, continued their painful exertions without evincing the
apprehensions they must have felt, by a murmur. The crisis was now at
hand. We approached so near to the breakers that it was impossible to
avoid them; and the men lay on their oars, expecting the next moment
would be their last.

In such a situation the thoughts of even the most depraved naturally
carry them beyond the limits of time; and by these thoughts, I
believe, the soul of every one was absorbed; yet the men lost not
their presence of mind. Suddenly, the voice of the look-out was heard
amid the roar of the breakers, calling our attention to a dark breach
in the line of foam that stretched out before us, which he fancied to
be a channel between the rocks. A few desperate strokes brought us
to the spot, when, to our unspeakable joy, we found it to answer the
man's conjecture; but, so narrow was the passage, that the oars on
both sides of the boat struck the rocks; a minute afterwards we found
ourselves becalmed and in safety. The boat being moored, and the men
ordered to watch by turns, we lay down to sleep, as we best could,
supperless, and without having tasted food since early dawn.

The wind still blew fresh on the ensuing morning; but we found, to
our great satisfaction, that we had entered a kind of channel that
lay along the shore, where we were protected from the storm by the
innumerable rocky islets that stretched along the mainland. Regarding
the labyrinth of islands through which we had effected a passage
in the darkness, we were struck with wonder at our escape; and felt
convinced that the hand of Providence alone could have guided us
through such perils in safety.



We reached Fort Chimo on the 20th September. A greater number of
Esquimaux were assembled about the post than I had yet seen; and among
them I was astonished to find a family from the north side of the
Strait, and still more astonished when I learned the way they had
crossed--a raft formed of pieces of drift wood picked up along the
shore, afforded the means of effecting the hazardous enterprise.

On questioning them what was their object in risking their lives in
so extraordinary an adventure, they replied, that they wanted wood to
make canoes, and visit the Esquimaux on the south side of the Strait.

"And what if you had been overtaken by a storm?" said I.

"We should all have gone to the bottom," was the cool reply.

In fact, they had made a very narrow escape, a storm having come on
just as they landed on the first island.

The fact of these people having crossed Hudson's Strait on so rude
and frail a conveyance, strongly corroborates, I think, the opinion
that America was originally peopled from Asia. The Asiatic side of
Behring's Strait affording timber sufficiently large for the purpose
of building boats or canoes, there seems nothing improbable in
supposing that, when once in possession of that wonderful and useful
invention--a boat, they might be induced, even by curiosity--that
powerful stimulus to adventure--to visit the nearest island, and from
thence proceed to the continent of America; and finding it, perhaps,
possessed of superior advantages to the shores they had left, settle
there. My voyageur was evidently induced as much by curiosity as by
the desire of procuring a canoe, to visit the south side of Hudson's
Strait, where the passage is as wide as between the island in
Behring's Strait and the two continents.

At an early period of the winter I was gratified by the arrival of
despatches from the civilized world. The packet was found by the
Indians at Esquimaux Bay, whither I had sent them, and forwarded to me
by Mr. Erlandson's two men. By his letters I was grieved to learn that
starvation stared him in the face; the fishing, that promised so well
when I passed, having entirely failed, and no deer were to be found.
He wrote me, however, that he would maintain his post while a piece of
parchment remained to gnaw!

The Governor's letters conveyed the thanks of the Governor and
Committee for my "laudable exertions;" while his Excellency intimated,
in language not to be misunderstood, that my promotion depended on my
successful management of the affairs of Ungava, "which he regretted to
find were still in an unpromising state."

What effect this announcement had on my feelings need not be
mentioned--after a painful servitude of eighteen years thus to
be compelled to make renewed, and even impossible exertions ere I
obtained the reward of my toil, while many others had reached the
goal in a much shorter time without experiencing either hardship or
privation,--the injustice I had suffered, or the deceit that had been
practised on _me_. As a balm to my wounded feelings, my correspondents
in the north informed me that seven clerks had been promoted since I
left Norway House.

Many of the Esquimaux referred to in a preceding page passed the
winter in this quarter, not daring to return in consequence of an
hostile rencontre they had had with some of their own tribes on their
way hither. The quarrel, like most Indian quarrels, originated in an
attempt to carry off women: both parties had recourse to arms, and
a desperate struggle ensued, in which our visitors were completely
defeated, with the loss of several lives.

They remained about the post for a short time, admiring its wonderful
novelties--wonderful to them--and then proceeded some distance up the
river to waylay the deer that had already crossed unobserved by them.
The poor creatures, unaware of this fact, remained on the ground until
every article that afforded any kind of sustenance was consumed; when
they started for the post, leaving the weaker of the party to follow
as they best could. They all arrived the same day except two widows,
who had lost their husbands in the fray. I sent off two young men with
a supply of provisions to meet them, but the wretches, having devoured
the food, returned without the women, although I had previously
supplied their own wants. Next morning I sent off one of my own men,
accompanied by an Esquimaux; but, as might have been expected, the
women were found lying dead on the ice near each other.

Although Mr. Erlandson did not particularly request any assistance
from me, the report he communicated as to the failure of provisions
was sufficient to induce me to use my best endeavours to relieve his
wants. With this view I hired an Indian lad to act as guide to a party
whom I despatched overland with the necessary supplies. The guide
assured me they would perform the journey, going and coming, in a
month. The appointed period passed, and no accounts of them; and week
after week, until I at last despaired of ever seeing them in life.
At the end of about two months they made their appearance, but in
so deplorable a state of emaciation that we could scarcely recognise

The roads proved so bad that they were nearly a month on their way
going, and consequently they had consumed almost all the provisions
they had for the whole trip. Mr. Erlandson's scanty supply not
allowing him to afford them any assistance for their return, they
commenced their journey homeward with one meal a day, which they
continued until all was gone, when they fed on their dogs; and they
finally arrived at the house without having tasted any kind of food
for three days. Their spectre-like forms excited the greatest pity;
the interpreter, who came to tell me of their arrival, was in tears.
No time was lost in administering relief; but the greatest caution
was necessary in administering it, or the consequences might have been

I was mortified to find, on the approach of spring, that my stock of
goods did not admit of supplying the interior; and I was consequently
compelled to relinquish the advantages that had cost us so much to
acquire. Without goods we could not, of course, maintain our position
in that quarter.



Immediately on the opening of the navigation I started for Esquimaux
Bay, with two Indians, in a small canoe, and without any of the
usual conveniences. Mr. Erlandson having been ordered to the southern
department, followed in another canoe.

Arrived at the post, we were gratified by the receipt of despatches
just come to hand by the ship. The Governor's letter apprized me
that a vessel would be sent round to Ungava every alternate year; and
strictly enjoined me to have no further communication with Esquimaux
Bay _overland_, "as much unnecessary expense was incurred by these
journeys." Thus were we consigned to our fate for a period of two
years with as little feeling as if we had been so many cattle, and
debarred from all communication with our friends, by word or letter,
merely to save a trifling expense!

Could the Honourable Company be swayed by so paltry a consideration in
subjecting us to so grievous an inconvenience? Surely not; a body of
men so respectable could neither have authorized nor sanctioned such
sordid parsimony. The generous proposition originated with Mr. Simpson
alone, and to him be the honour ascribed.

Being fully persuaded in my own mind of the utter hopelessness of the
Ungava adventure, I transmitted a report to the Governor and Committee
on the subject; recommending the abandonment of the settlement
altogether, as the enormous expense of supplying us by sea precluded
the idea of any profit being ever realised; while it was quite evident
the Company's benevolent views toward the Esquimaux could not be
carried into effect. The extreme poverty and barrenness of their
country, and their pertinacious adherence to their seal-skin dresses,
which no argument of ours could induce them to exchange for the
less comfortable articles of European clothing, were insurmountable
obstacles. The Honourable Company, while they wished to supply the
wants of the Esquimaux, still urged the expediency of securing the
trade of the interior.

A circumstance that came to my knowledge in the course of the winter
promised the attainment of that object. I learned from an old Indian,
that the fall and rapid I met with on my way to the sea the preceding
season, could be avoided, by following a chain of small lakes. My
informant had never seen those falls himself, and could, from the
oral report he had heard, give but a very imperfect description of the
route. Still, I determined on making another attempt to explore the
whole river, knowing well, that if I succeeded in discovering the new
route, there could be no further difficulty in supplying the interior.
Meantime, I was gratified to learn, by letters from my friend Mr.
Dease, that the expedition in which he had been engaged was crowned
with success;--the long sought-after north-west passage being at
length laid open to the _knowledge_ of mankind, and a question, that
at one time excited the enterprise of the merchant and the curiosity
of the learned, settled beyond a doubt.

While on this subject, I cannot help expressing my surprise at the
manner Mr. Dease's name is mentioned in the published narrative of
the expedition, where he is represented as being employed merely
as purveyor. It might have been said with equal propriety that Mr.
Simpson was employed merely as astronomer. The fact is, the services
of both gentlemen were equally necessary; and to the prudence,
judgment, and experience of Mr. Dease, the successful issue of
the enterprise may undoubtedly be ascribed, no less than to the
astronomical science of Mr. Simpson.

Having finished my correspondence, I embarked for Fort Chimo, on board
a brig that had been recently built for the trade of this district
and that of Esquimaux Bay. Our passage afforded no adventure worthy of
notice; icebergs we saw in abundance, whose dimensions astonished us,
but having no desire to form a close acquaintance with them, we kept
at a respectful distance; and finally entered the Ungava River, on the
24th of August, at so early an hour of the day, that we expected to
reach the post ere night-fall.

We were doomed to disappointment. As we ascended the river, the breeze
fell, and darkness set in upon us; yet we still pressed on. Presently,
however, so dense a fog arose, that nothing could be seen a yard
off. In this dilemma our safest course would have been to anchor,
but unfortunately that part of the river was the most unfavourable
possible for our purpose, from the extraordinary strength of the
current, and the rocky nature of the bottom. Our skipper seemed quite
at a loss, but accident decided. The vessel struck, altered her course
a little, struck again, put about, and struck again and again. The
anchor was dropped as the only chance of escaping the dangers in which
we were involved. The anchor dragged a short time, and finally caught
apparently in a cleft of the rocks.

Soon after the tide began to flow, and we fancied our dangers over;
but the crisis was not yet come. The ebb-tide returned, rushing down
with the current of the river with such overwhelming velocity, that
we expected the vessel would be torn from her moorings. Two men were
placed at the helm to keep her steady, but, in spite of their utmost
exertions, she was dashed from side to side like a feather, while
the current pitched into her till the water entered the hawse-holes.
Pitching, and swinging, and dashed about in this fearful manner for
some time, the anchor was at length disengaged, and dragged along the
bottom with a grating noise, which, with the roaring of the rapid, and
the whistling of the wind through the rigging, formed a combination
of sounds that would have appalled the most resolute. The fog having
cleared away, we discovered a point projecting far into the river,
some two hundred yards below, towards which we were drifting
broadside, and rapidly nearing. The boats were got ready, to escape,
if possible, the impending catastrophe, when the vessel was suddenly
brought to with a tremendous jerk, and instantly swung round to the
tide. By this time, however, its strength was considerably abated, and
daylight soon appearing, I sent on an Esquimaux who had come on board,
with a note to the post, requesting that a pilot should be sent us
with the utmost despatch.

Meantime, seeing our way clear before us, we weighed anchor, and
advanced to within three miles of the establishment, when a boat was
seen approaching, rowed by six stout islanders. On coming along-side,
a rope was thrown to them, and made fast to the fore-stem. Four of the
men had scrambled on board, when a sudden blast swelled our sails, and
propelled us through the water with such force, that the fore-part
of the boat was torn away, leaving one of the men floundering in the
water, and the other clinging to the rope. The latter was dragged on
board, severely bruised; but the former remained in the water for at
least two hours, and would have perished before our eyes, had he not
got hold of a couple of oars, by which he managed to keep himself
afloat. We soon anchored opposite the post, and every exertion being
made to expedite the departure of the vessel, we were in the course of
a few days left to vegetate in quiet.

On examining the quantity of provisions I had received, I was not a
little alarmed to find it scarcely sufficient for the consumption of
one year, his Excellency's communication having acquainted me that
it was a supply for two years! Thus we were thrown on the precarious
resources of the country for life or for death; for if those resources
should fail us, we must either remain and starve on the spot, or,
abandoning the settlement, endeavour to escape to Esquimaux Bay and
run the risk of starving by the way. Economy so ill-timed argued
as little in favour of the Governor's judgment as of his humanity.
Admitting our lives were of so trifling a value, the abandonment
of the settlement, with all the goods and furs in it, would have
subjected the Company to a very serious loss. Every precaution,
however, was taken to provide against a contingency which involved
such serious consequences; the men were dispersed in every direction
to shift for themselves, some being supplied with guns and ammunition,
others with nets, a lake of considerable extent having been lately
discovered, which the natives reported to abound with fish. Early
in the month of December my fishermen came in with the mortifying
intelligence of the entire failure of the fishery; and soon after
a messenger arrived from the hunting party to beg a supply of
provisions, which my limited means, alas! compelled me to deny. Not
a deer had been seen, and the partridges had become so scarce of late
that they barely afforded the means of sustaining life. All I could
therefore do for my poor men was to supply them with more ammunition
and send them off again.

While their lot was thus wretched, mine was not enviable; one solitary
meal a day was all I allowed myself and those who remained with me;
and I must do them the justice to say, that they submitted to
these privations without a murmur, being aware that it was only by
exercising the most rigid economy that our provisions could hold
out the allotted time; the arrival of the ship being an event too
uncertain to be calculated upon. By stinting ourselves in this manner,
we managed to eke out a miserable subsistence, without expending much
of our imported provisions, until the arrival of the deer in the month
of March, when we fared plentifully if not sumptuously.



1841.--On the opening of the navigation I set out on another exploring
expedition. Without entering into particulars so devoid of interest,
I would merely observe that, with patience and perseverance, we
ultimately succeeded in making good our passage by the Hamilton, or
Grand River, and found it to answer our expectations in every respect.

On arriving at Esquimaux Bay, we found the vessel from Quebec riding
at anchor--a joyful sight, since it gave assurance that we should hear
from friends and relatives, and receive intelligence of the events
that had occurred in the world for the last twelve months. The
Governor's communication acquainted me with my promotion, and
_sincerely_ congratulated me on the event. Whether I had reason or not
to doubt his sincerity, let the reader judge who knows the treatment I
had experienced at his hands. Fifteen years ago I was assured of being
in the "direct road to preferment,"--twenty years of toil and misery
have I served to obtain it.

Considering myself, therefore, under no obligation to his Excellency,
I addressed a letter to the Directors, expressing my thanks for the
benefit they had conferred upon me, and requesting permission to visit
the land of my nativity next year.

I was fortunate enough to find a couple of canoes at Esquimaux Bay,
sufficiently large to admit of conveying an outfit to the interior,
and equally fortunate to find Mr. Davis, the gentleman in charge of
the district, possessed the will and ability to promote my views. All
my arrangements at this place being completed, I set off on my return,
and was happy to find, on my arrival at the outpost, that the outfit
was rendered in safety, not the slightest accident having occurred on
the way.

I arrived at Fort Chimo in the beginning of October. The dreary winter
setting in immediately, we commenced the usual course of vegetative
existence; and I consider it as unnecessary as it would be
uninteresting to say anything further concerning it than that this
season passed without our being subjected to such grievous privation
as during the last. The greater part of the people being distributed
among the outposts, reduced our expenditure of provisions so much,
that I felt I had nothing now to fear on the score of starvation; and
the precautions I had taken the preceding winter enabled us not only
to indulge occasionally in the _luxuries_ of bread-and-butter, but
also to contemplate the possibility of the non-arrival of the ship
without much anxiety.

1842.--On the opening of the navigation I again set out for Esquimaux
Bay, where I found letters from the Secretary, conveying the welcome
intelligence that my request for permission to visit Britain had been
granted, and that the Directors, agreeably to my recommendation, had
determined on abandoning Ungava, the ship being ordered round this
season to convey the people and property to Esquimaux Bay.




It need scarcely be observed that, in so high a latitude as that
of Ungava, the climate presents the extremes of heat and cold; the
moderate temperature of spring and autumn is unknown, the rigour of
winter being immediately succeeded by the intense heat of summer, and
_vice versá_.

On the 12th of June, 1840, the thermometer was observed to rise from
10° below zero to 76° in the shade, the sky clear and the weather
calm; this was, in fact, the first day of summer. For ten days
previously the thermometer ranged from 15° below zero to 32° above,
and the weather was as boisterous as in the month of January, snowing
and blowing furiously all the time. The heat continued to increase,
till the thermometer frequently exhibited from 85° to 100° in the
shade. This intense heat may, no doubt, be owing in a considerable
degree to the reflection of the solar rays from the rocky surface of
the country, a great part of which is destitute of vegetation. When
the wind blows from the sea the atmosphere is so much cooled as to
become disagreeable. These vicissitudes are frequently experienced
during summer, and are probably caused by the sea's being always
encumbered by ice. It is remarkable that the severest cold in this
quarter is invariably accompanied by stormy weather; whereas, in the
interior of the continent, severe cold always produces calm.

The winter may be said to commence in October; by the end of this
month the ground is covered with snow, and the rivers and smaller
lakes are frozen over; the actions of the tide, however, and the
strength of the current, often keep Ungava River open till the month
of January. At this period I have neither seen, read, nor heard of
any locality under heaven that can offer a more cheerless abode to
civilized man than Ungava. The rumbling noise created by the ice, when
driven to and fro by the force of the tide, continually stuns the ear;
while the light of heaven is hidden by the fog that hangs in the air,
shrouding everything in the gloom of a dark twilight. If Pluto should
leave his own gloomy mansion _in tenebris tartari_, he might take up
his abode here, and gain or lose but little by the exchange.

  "The parched ground burns frore, and cold performs
  The effect of fire."--MILTON.

When the river sets fast, the beauties of the winter scene are
disclosed--one continuous surface of glaring snow, with here and there
a clump of dwarf pine, of the bald summits of barren hills, from
which the violence of the winter storms sweep away even the tenacious
lichens. The winter storms are the most violent I ever experienced,
sweeping every thing before them; and often prove fatal to the Indians
when overtaken by them in places where no shelter can be found. The
year previous to my arrival, a party of Indians ventured out to a
barren island in the bay in quest of deer, taking their women along
with them. While engaged in the chase, a sudden storm compelled them
to make for the mainland with all possible speed. The women were soon
exhausted by their exertions, and, unable to proceed farther, were
at length covered by the snow, and left to their fate. As soon as the
fury of the storm abated, the men went in search of them; but in vain;
they were never found.

During winter the sky is frequently illuminated by the Aurora Borealis
even in the day-time; and I have observed that when the south wind,
the coldest in this quarter, (traversing, as it does, the frost-bound
regions of Canada and Labrador,) blows for any length of time, the sky
becomes clear, and the aurora disappears. No sooner, however, does the
east wind blow, which, being charged with the vapours of the Atlantic,
induces mild weather even in midwinter, than they again dart forth
their coruscations--more brightly at first, afterwards more faintly,
till, if the wind continue, they again disappear.

These phenomena seem to warrant the conclusion that the aurora is
produced by the evolving of the electric fluid, through the collision
of bodies of cold and warm air. The same phenomena are observable in
New Caledonia; the east wind, passing over the glaciers of the Rocky
Mountains, cools the atmosphere to such a degree as to cause frost
every month in summer; the west wind, on the contrary, causes heat;
and there, as in Ungava, the change of winds is followed by what may
be termed the Mountain Aurora (_Aurora Montium_?)

During my residence of five years at Ungava, the thermometer fell
twice to 53° below zero; and frequently ranged from 38° to 48° for
several days together; the extreme heat rose to 100° at noon in the

The soil of Ungava consists principally of decayed lichens, which form
a substance resembling the peat moss of the Scottish moors. In this
soil the lily-white "Cana" grows, a plant which I have not seen in
any other part of the continent, although it may elsewhere be found in
similar situations. In the low grounds along the banks of rivers, the
soil is generally deep and fertile enough to produce timber of a large
size; in the valleys are found clumps of wood, which become more and
more stunted as they creep up the sides of the sterile hills, till at
length they degenerate into lowly shrubs. The woods bordering on the
sea-coast consist entirely of larch; which also predominates in the
interior, intermixed with white pine, and a few poplars and birches.
The hardy willow vegetates wherever it can find a particle of soil
to take root in; and the plant denominated Labrador tea, flourishes
luxuriantly in its native soil. In favourable seasons the country
is covered with every variety of berries--blueberry, cranberry,
gooseberry, red currant, strawberry, raspberry, ground raspberry
(_rubus arcticus_), and the billberry (_rubus chamæmorus_), a
delicious fruit produced in the swamps, and bearing some resemblance
to the strawberry in shape, but different in flavour and colour, being
yellow when ripe. Liquorice root is found on the banks of South River.

To enumerate the varieties of animals is an easy task; the extremely
barren nature of the country, and the severity of the climate, prove
so unfavourable to the animal kingdom, that only a few of the more
hardy species are to be found here: viz.--

Black, brown, grisly, and polar bears.

Black, silver, cross, blue, red, and white foxes.

Wolves, wolverines, martens, and the beaver (but extremely rare).

Otters, minks, musk-rats, ermine.

Arctic hares, rabbits, rein-deer; and the lemming, in some parts of
the interior.

When we consider the great extent of country that intervenes between
Ungava and the plains of the "far west," it seems quite inexplicable
that the grisly bear should be found in so insulated a situation,
and none in the intermediate country: the fact of their being here,
however, does not admit of a doubt, for I have traded and sent to
England several of their skins. The information I have received from
the natives induces me to think that the varieties of colour in bears
mark them as distinct species, and not the produce of the same litter,
as some writers affirm. Why, otherwise, do we not find the different
varieties in Canada, where the grisly bear has never been seen? The
sagacious animals seem to be well aware of their generic affinity,
since they are often seen together, sharing the same carcass, and
apparently on terms of the most intimate fellowship.

It is a singular circumstance, that she-bears with young are seldom
or never killed; at least it is so extraordinary a circumstance, that
when it does happen, it is spoken of for years afterwards. She must,
therefore, retire to her den immediately after impregnation; and
cannot go above three months with young; as instances have occurred
of their being found suckling their young in the month of January, at
which period they are not larger than the common house-rat, presenting
the appearance of animals in embryo, yet perfect in all their parts.

Bruin prepares his hybernal dormitory with great care, lining it with
hay, and stopping up the entrance with the same material; he enters it
in October, and comes out in the month of April. He passes the winter
alone, in a state of morbid drowsiness, from which he is roused
with difficulty; and neither eats nor drinks, but seems to derive
nourishment from sucking his paws. He makes his exit in spring
apparently in as good condition as when he entered; but a few days'
exposure to the air reduces him to skin and bone.

The natives pay particular attention to the appearance presented by
the unoccupied dens they may discover in summer: if bruin has removed
his litter of the preceding winter, he intends to reoccupy the same
quarters; if he allows it to remain, he never returns; and the hunter
takes his measures accordingly.

The black bear shuns the presence of man, and is by no means
a dangerous animal; the grisly bear, on the contrary, commands
considerable respect from the "lord of the creation," whom he attacks
without hesitation. By the natives, the paw of a grisly bear is
considered as honourable a trophy as the scalp of a human enemy.

The reports I have had, both from natives and white trappers, confirm
the opinion that certain varieties of the fox belong to the same
species,--such as the black, silver, cross, and red; all of which have
been found in the same nest, but never any of the white or blue. The
former, too, are distinguished for their cunning and sagacity; while
the latter are very stupid, and fall an easy prey to the trapper; a
circumstance of itself sufficient to prove a difference of species.

There are two varieties of the rein-deer,--the migratory, and the
stationary or wood-deer: the latter is a much larger animal, but not
abundant; the former are extremely numerous, migrating in herds at
particular seasons, and observing certain laws on their march, from
which they seldom deviate. The does make their appearance at Ungava
River generally in the beginning of March, coming from the west, and
directing their course over the barren grounds near the coast, until
they reach George's River, where they halt to bring forth their young,
in the month of June. Meantime the bucks, being divided into separate
herds, pursue a direct course through the interior, for the same
river, and remain scattered about on the upper parts of it until the
month of September, when they assemble, and proceed slowly towards
the coast. By this time the does move onward towards the interior, the
fawns having now sufficient strength to accompany them, and follow the
banks of George's River until they meet the bucks, when the rutting
season commences, in the month of October; the whole then proceed
together, through the interior, to the place whence they came. In the
same manner, I have been informed, the deer perform their migratory
circuits everywhere; observing the same order on their march,
following nearly the same route unless prevented by accidental
circumstances, and observing much the same periods of arrival and

The colour of the rein-deer is uniformly the same, presenting no
variety of "spotted black and red." In summer it is a very dark grey,
approaching to black, and light grey in winter. The colour of the doe
is of a darker shade than that of the buck, whose breast is perfectly
white in winter. Individuals are seen of a white colour at all seasons
of the year. The bucks shed their antlers in the month of December;
the does in the month of January. A few bucks are sometimes to be
met with who roam about apart from the larger herds, and are in prime
condition both in summer and winter. These _solitaires_ are said to be
unsuccessful candidates for the favours of the does, who, having
been worsted by their more powerful rivals in _contentione amoris_,
withdraw from the community, and assuming the cowl, ever after eschew
female society; an opinion which their good condition at all seasons
seems to corroborate.

The rein-deer is subject to greater annoyance from flies than any
other animal in the creation; neither change of season nor situation
exempts them from this torture. Their great persecutor is a species
of gad-fly, (_oestries tarandi_,) that hovers around them in clouds
during summer, and makes them the instruments of their own torture
throughout the year. The fly, after piercing the skin of the deer,
deposits its eggs between the outer and inner skin, where they are
hatched by the heat of the animal's body. In the month of March, the
chrysalides burst through the skin, and drop on the ground, when they
may be seen crawling in immense numbers along the deer paths as they
pass from west to east.

The only birds observed in winter are grouse, ptarmigan, a small
species of wood-pecker, butcher-bird, and the diminutive tomtit. We
are visited in summer by swans, geese, ducks, eagles, hawks, ravens,
owls, robins, and swallows. The eider-duck, so much prized for its
down, is found in considerable numbers. The geese are of a most
inferior kind, owing, I suppose, to the poor feeding the country
affords; when they arrive in summer the ice is often still solid, when
they betake themselves to the hills, and feed on berries.

The lakes produce only white fish, trout and carp. We took now and
then a few salmon in the river, and there is no doubt that this fish
abounds on the coast.

In the sea are found the black whale, porpoise, sea-horse, seal, and
the narwal or sea unicorn; the horn of the latter, solid ivory, is a
beautiful object. The largest I procured measured six feet and a half
in length, four inches in diameter at the root, and a quarter of an
inch at the point. It is of a spiral form, and projects from near the
extremity of the snout; it presents a most singular appearance when
seen moving along above the surface of the water, while the animal is
concealed beneath.

The geological features of the country present so little variety, that
one versed in that interesting science would experience but little
difficulty in describing them; a mere outline, however, is all I can
venture to present.

Along the sea-coast the formation is granitic syenite; then,
proceeding about forty miles in the direction of South River, syenite
occurs, which, about sixty miles higher up, runs into green stone:
very fine slate succeeds. At the height of land dividing the waters
that flow in different directions, into Esquimaux and Ungava Bays, the
formation becomes syenitic schist, and continues so to within a short
distance of the great fall on Hamilton River; when syenite succeeds;
then gneiss; and along the shores of Esquimaux Bay syenitic gneiss,
and pure quartz: lumps of black and red hornblend are met with
everywhere. The country is covered with boulders rounded off by the
action of water, most of which are different from the rocks _in situ_,
and must have been transported from a great distance, some being of
granite--a rock not to be found in this quarter.

The rugged and precipitous banks of George's River are occasionally
surmounted by hills; at the base of all these elevations, deep
horizontal indentures appear running in parallel lines opposite each
other on either side of the river,--a circumstance which indicates the
action of tides and waves at a time when the other parts of the land
were submerged, and the tops of those hills formed islands. Along
certain parts of the coast of Labrador rows of boulders are perceived
lying in horizontal lines; the lowest about two hundred yards distant
from high-water mark, while the farthest extend to near the crest of
the adjacent hills. Several deep cavities and embankments of sand are
observed in the interior, bearing unequivocal marks of having been, at
one time, subject to the influence of the sea.

I shall conclude these few remarks by observing that, whatever
conclusions the geologist may arrive at as to the remote or recent
elevation of this country, the tops of the higher hills appear to have
been formerly islands in the sea; and I doubt not but the same may
be said of the higher lands on every part of the Arctic regions.
Admitting this to have been the case, it contributes to confirm the
theory of that distinguished philosopher, Sir Charles Lyell, as to
the cause of the changes that have taken place in the climate of the
northern regions.



The Indians inhabiting the interior of Ungava, or, it may be said with
equal propriety, the interior of Labrador, are a tribe of the Cree
nation designated Nascopies, and numbering about one hundred men able
to bear arms. Their language, a dialect of the Cree or Cristeneau,
exhibits a considerable mixture of Sauteux words, with a few peculiar
to themselves. The Nascopies have the same religious belief as their
kindred tribes in every other part of the continent. They believe in
the existence of a Supreme Being, the Ruler of the universe, and the
Author of all good. They believe, also, in the existence of a bad
spirit, the author of all evil. Each is believed to be served by a
number of subordinate spirits. Sacrifices are offered to each; to the
good, by way of supplication and gratitude; to the evil, by way of
conciliation and deprecation. Their local genii are also supposed to
be possessed of the power of doing good, or inflicting evil, and are
likewise propitiated by sacrifices; the "men of medicine" are viewed
in nearly the same light. A few of them who visit the king's posts,
have been baptized, and taught to mutter something they call prayers,
and on this account are esteemed good Christians by their tutors;
while every action of their lives proves them to be as much Pagans as
ever; at least, to those who look for some _fruit_ of faith, and who
may be ignorant of the miraculous efficacy of holy water, and can form
no idea of its operation on the soul, they appear so.

Of all the Indians I have seen, the Nascopies seem most averse to
locomotion; many of them grow up to man's estate without once visiting
a trading post. Previously to the establishment of this post they were
wont to assemble at a certain rendezvous in the interior, and deliver
their furs to some elderly man of the party, who proceeded with
them to the King's posts, or Esquimaux Bay, and traded them for such
articles as they required. So little intercourse have this people had
with the whites, that they may be still considered as unsophisticated
"children of nature," and possessed, of course, of all the virtues
ascribed to such; yet I must say, that my acquaintance with them
disclosed nothing that impressed me with a higher opinion of them than
of my own race, corrupted as they are by the arts of civilized life.

The Nascopie freely indulges all the grosser passions of his nature;
he has no term in his language to express the sensation of shame; the
feeling and the word are alike unknown. Many circumstances might be
adduced in proof of this, but I have no desire to disgust the reader.
Previously to our arrival here, there was not such an article of
domestic utility known among them as a spoon; the unclean hand
performed every office. They take their meals sitting in a circle
round a kettle, and commence operations by skimming off the fat with
their hands, and lapping it up like dogs; then every one helps himself
to the solids, cutting, gnawing, and tearing until the whole is
devoured, or until repletion precludes further exertions, when, like
the gorged beast of prey, they lie down to sleep.

The Nascopies practise polygamy more from motives of convenience than
any other--the more wives, the more slaves. The poor creatures, in
fact, are in a state of relentless slavery; every species of drudgery
devolves upon them. When they remove from camp to camp in winter, the
women set out first, dragging sledges loaded with their effects, and
such of the children as are incapable of walking; meantime the men
remain in the abandoned encampment smoking their pipes, until they
suppose the women are sufficiently far advanced on the route to reach
the new encampment ere they overtake them.

Arrived at the spot, the women clear the ground of snow, erect the
tents, and collect fuel; and when their arrangements are completed,
their lords step in to enjoy themselves. The sole occupation of the
men is hunting, and, in winter, fishing. They do not even carry home
the game; that duty also falls to the lot of the female, unless when
the family has been starving for some time, when the men condescend to
carry home enough for immediate use.

The horrid practice still obtains among the Nascopies of destroying
their parents and relatives, when old age incapacitates them for
further exertion. I must, however, do them the justice to say, that
the parent himself expresses a wish to depart, otherwise the unnatural
deed would probably never be committed; for they in general treat
their old people with much care and tenderness. The son or nearest
relative performs the office of executioner,--the self-devoted victim
being disposed of by strangulation.[1] When any one dies in winter,
the body is placed on a scaffold till summer, when it is interred.

[Footnote 1: "Quidam parentes et propinquos, priusquam annis et macie
conficiantur, velut hostias cædunt, _eorumque visceribus epulantur_."
The Nascopies do not feast on the "viscera" of their victims, nor do
I believe the inhabitants of India, or of any other country under
heaven, ever did. Yet the coincidence is singular, in other respects,
at such a distance of time and place.]

The Nascopies depend principally on the rein-deer for subsistence,--a
dependence which the erratic habits of these animals render extremely
precarious. Should they happen to miss the deer on their passage
through the country in autumn, they experience the most grievous
inconvenience, and often privations, the succeeding winter; as
they must then draw their living from the lakes, with unremitting
toil,--boring the ice, which is sometimes from eight to nine feet
thick, for the purpose of setting their hooks, and perhaps not taking
a single fish after a day's hard work. Nevertheless, they must still
continue their exertions till they succeed, shifting their hooks from
one part of the lake to another, until every spot is searched. They
understand the art of setting nets under the ice perfectly. Towards
the latter end of December, however, the fish gain the deep water,
and remain still to the latter end of March. Not a fish enters the net
during this period.

Partridges are very numerous in certain localities, but cannot be
trusted to as a means of living, as every part of the country affords
them food, and when much annoyed at one place they move off to

It will be seen from the foregoing remarks, that the Nascopies, like
all other erratic tribes, are subject to the vicissitudes their mode
of life necessarily involves; at one time wallowing in abundance, at
another dying of want. Fortunately for themselves, they are at present
the most independent of the whites of any other Indians on this
continent, the Esquimaux excepted. The few fur-bearing animals their
barren country affords are so highly prized, that the least exertion
enables them to procure their very limited wants; and the skin of
the rein-deer affords them the most comfortable clothing they could
possess. They have a particular art, too, of dressing this skin, so as
to render it as soft and pliable as chamois, in which state it becomes
a valuable article of trade.

As trading posts, however, are now established on their lands, I doubt
not but artificial wants will, in time, be created, that may become
as indispensable to their comfort as their present real wants. All the
arts of the trader are exercised to produce such a result, and those
arts never fail of ultimate success. Even during the last two years of
my management, the demand for certain articles of European manufacture
had greatly increased.

The winter dress of the Nascopie consists of a jacket of deer-skin,
close all round, worn with the hair next the skin, and an over-coat of
the same material reaching to his knees, the hair outside. This coat
overlaps in front, and is secured by a belt, from which depends his
knife and smoking-bag. A pair of leather breeches, and leggings,
or stockings of cloth, protect his legs, though but imperfectly,
from the cold; his hands, however, are well defended by a pair of
gauntlets that reach his elbows; and on his head he wears a cap
richly ornamented with bear's and eagle's claws. His long thick hair,
however, renders the head-gear an article of superfluity,--but it
is the fashion. The dress of the women consists of a square piece of
dressed deer-skin, girt round them by a cloth or worsted belt, and
fastened over their shoulders by leather straps; a jacket of leather,
and cloth leggings. I have also observed some of them wearing a
garment in imitation of a gown. The leather dresses, both of men and
women, are generally painted; and often display more taste than one
would be disposed to give them credit for.

The travelling equipage of the Nascopies consists of a small leather
tent, a deer-skin robe with the hair on, a leather bag with some down
in it, and a kettle. When he lies down he divests himself of his upper
garment, which he spreads under him; then, thrusting his limbs into
the down bag, and rolling himself up in his robe, he draws his knees
up close to his chin; and thus defended, the severest cold does not
affect him.

Considering the manner in which their women are treated, it can
scarcely be supposed that their courtships are much influenced by
sentiments of love; in fact, the tender passion seems unknown to the
savage breast. When a young man attains a certain age, and considers
himself able to provide for a wife--if the term may be so debased--he
acquaints his parents with his wish, and gives himself no further
concern about the matter, until they have concluded the matrimonial
negotiations with the parents of _their_, not _his_ intended, whose
sentiments are never consulted on the occasion. The youth then
proceeds to his father-in-law's tent, and remains there for a
twelvemonth; at the end of this period he may remain longer or depart,
and he is considered ever after as an independent member of the
community, subject to no control. Marriages are allowed between near
relatives; cousins are considered as brothers and sisters, and are
addressed by the same terms. It is not considered improper to marry
two sisters, either in succession or both at the same time.

The Nascopies have certain customs in hunting peculiar to themselves.
If a wounded animal escape, even a short distance, ere he drops, he
becomes the property of the person who first reaches him, and not of
the person who shot him; or if the animal be mortally wounded and do
not fall immediately, and another Indian fire and bring him down, the
last shot gains the prize.

In their intercourse with us the Nascopies evince a very different
disposition from the other branches of the Cree family, being selfish
and inhospitable in the extreme; exacting rigid payment for the
smallest portion of food. Yet I do not know that we have any right to
blame a practice in them, which they have undoubtedly learned from
us. What do they obtain from us without payment? Nothing:--not a shot
of powder,--not a ball,--not a flint. But whatever may be said of
their conduct towards the whites, no people can exercise the laws
of hospitality with greater generosity, or show less selfishness,
towards each other, than the Nascopies. The only part of an animal the
huntsman retains for himself is the head; every other part is given up
for the common benefit. Fish, flesh, and fowl are distributed in the
same liberal and impartial manner; and he who contributes most seems
as contented with his share, however small it may be, as if he had had
no share in procuring it. In fact, a community of goods seems almost
established among them; the few articles they purchase from us shift
from hand to hand, and seldom remain more than two or three days in
the hands of the original purchaser.

The Nascopies, surrounded by kindred tribes, are strangers to the
calamities of war, and are consequently a peaceful, harmless people;
yet they cherish the unprovoked enmity of their race towards the poor
Esquimaux, whom they never fail to attack, when an opportunity offers
of doing so with impunity. Our presence, however, has had the effect
of establishing a more friendly intercourse between them; and to the
fact that many of the Esquimaux have of late acquired fire-arms, and
are not to be attacked without some risk, may be ascribed, in no small
degree, the present forbearance of their enemies.



The Esquimaux are so totally different in physiognomy and person, in
language, manners, and customs, from all the other natives of America,
that there can be no doubt that they belong to a different branch of
the human race. The conformation of their features, their stature,
form, and complexion, approximate so closely to those of the northern
inhabitants of Europe, as to indicate, with some degree of certainty,
their identity of origin. In the accounts I have read of the maritime
Laplanders, I find many characteristics common to both tribes: the
Laplander is of a swarthy complexion,--so is the Esquimaux; the
Laplander is distinguished by high cheek-bones, hollow cheeks, pointed
chin, and large mouth,--so is the Esquimaux; the Laplander wears a
thick beard,--so does the Esquimaux; the Laplander's hair is long and
black,--so is that of the Esquimaux; the Laplanders are, for the most
part, short of stature,--so are the Esquimaux; and the dress, food,
and lodging of both peoples are nearly the same. The last coincidence
may possibly arise from similarity of location and climate; and, taken
by itself, would afford no certain proof of identity of origin; but
taken in connexion with the aforementioned characteristics, I think
the conclusion is irresistible that the Laplanders and Esquimaux are
of the same race.

That the Esquimaux and the natives of Greenland are also of a kindred
race, is a fact ascertained beyond a doubt, from the reports of the
Moravian Missionaries, who have settlements among both.

The way in which they must have passed from the one continent to the
other, must now be left to conjecture. There is nothing improbable
in the supposition that some of them might have been drifted out to
sea by stress of weather, and wafted to the shores of Greenland;
whence some might, in course of time, remove to the opposite coast
of America. From the southern extremity of Labrador to Behring's
Straits, the Esquimaux language is the same, differing only in the
pronunciation of a few words. We had a native of Hudson's Bay with us,
who had accompanied Captain Franklin to the McKenzie and Coppermine
Rivers, and who assured us that he understood the Esquimaux of that
quarter, and those of Ungava, although some thousands of miles apart,
as well as his own tribe.

In manners, customs, and dress, there is a like similarity. The
Esquimaux have ever remained a distinct people; the other natives of
America seeming to consider them more as brutes than human beings, and
never approaching them unless for the purpose of knocking them on the
head. Every one's hand is against them. I have seen Esquimaux scalps,
even among the timid _têtes des boules_ of Temiscamingue; yet no
people seem more disposed to live at peace with their neighbours, if
only they were allowed. Circumstanced as they are, however, they are
likely to suffer hostile aggression for a long time. Even a coward,
with a musket in his hand, is generally an overmatch for a brave man
with only a bow or a sling; but once possessed of fire-arms, they will
teach their enemies to respect them, for they will undoubtedly have
the advantage of superior courage and resolution.

The Esquimaux is not easily excited to anger; but his wrath once
roused, he becomes furious: he foams like a wild boar, rolls his eyes,
gnashes his teeth, and rushes on his antagonist with the fury of a
beast of prey. In the winter of 1840, a quarrel arose between two
individuals about the sex, which led to a fight; the struggle was
continued for a time with tooth and nail; when one of the parties at
length got hold of his knife, and stabbed his adversary in the belly.
The bowels protruded, yet the wounded man never desisted, until loss
of blood and repeated stabs compelled him to yield the contest and
his life. Gallantry seems to be the main cause of quarrels among them.
Strange! that this passion should exercise such an influence in a
climate, and, as one would be led to suppose, on constitutions so
cold; yet nothing is more certain than that the enamoured Esquimaux
will risk life and limb in the pursuit of his object.

With unmarried women there is no risk, as they are entirely free from
control; not so with the married, who are under strict surveillance;
but the husband's consent asked and obtained--which not seldom
happens--saves the gallant's head, and the lady's reputation.

Their courtships are conducted in much the same manner as among the
inland Indians, the choice of partners being entirely left to the
parents. Some are affianced in childhood, and become man and wife
in early youth: I have seen a boy of fourteen living with his wife
who was two years younger. There are no marriage festivals, and no
ceremonies of any kind are observed at their nuptials. Polygamy is
allowed, _ad libitum_; and the husband exercises his authority as
husband, judge, or executioner; no one having any right to interfere.
Should, however, the woman consider herself ill-treated, she flees to
her parents, with whom she remains till an explanation takes place.
If it lead to a reconciliation, the parties are reunited; if not, the
woman may form a new connexion whenever she pleases.

I know not whether the Esquimaux can be said to have any idea of
religion, as the term is generally understood. The earth, say they,
was in the beginning covered with water, which having subsided, man
appeared--a spontaneous creation. Aglooktook is the name of the man
who first created fish and animals: chopping a tree which overhung
the sea, the chips that fell into that element became fish; those
that fell on the land, animals. Their paradise is beneath the great
deep; those who have lived a good life, proceed to a part of the sea
abounding with whales and seals, where, free from care and toil, they
fare sumptuously on raw flesh and blubber, _in secula_ _seculorum_.
The wicked, on the contrary, are condemned to take up their abode in a
"sea of troubles," where none of the delicacies enjoyed by the blessed
are to be found; and even the commonest necessaries are procured with
endless toil, and pain, and disappointment. Although the "tomakhs,"
or dead men, become the inhabitants of the sea, they indulge in the
pleasures of the chase on their old element, whenever they please; and
are often heard calling to each other while in pursuit of the deer.

The Esquimaux have their "men of medicine," in whose preternatural
powers they place the most implicit confidence; by working on the
superstitious fears of the people, these impostors obtain much
authority. They are allowed to take the lead in every affair of
importance; and, in short, all their movements are, in a great
measure, regulated by these harlequins, who appear to be the only
chiefs among them.

They dispose of their dead by placing them on the rocks, and covering
them over with ice or stones; these tombs prove but feeble barriers
against the wolves and other beasts of prey, who soon carry off the
bodies. The property belonging to the deceased is placed by the side
of his grave;--his caiak, or skin canoe, his bows, arrows, and spears.
Thus equipped, the _emigrant_ spirit cannot find itself at a loss on
arriving at a better country!

It is said by some that the Esquimaux abandon their aged parents:
from inquiry, as well as observation, I am led to believe there is
no foundation for the charge. It is not reasonable to expect that
the more refined feelings of humanity should be found in the breast
of a savage, or that he should honour his father and mother in the
same degree as he whose principles are moulded by the precepts
of Christianity; yet I must do them the justice to say, that they
appeared to me to treat their parents with as much kindness, at least,
as any other savage nation I have met with. They do not deny, however,
that old people no longer able to provide for themselves, and without
any relative to care for them, are sometimes left to perish.

No people suffer more from hunger than the Esquimaux who inhabit
the shores of Ungava Bay; seals being extremely scarce in the winter
season, and no fish to be found; so that the poor creatures are
often reduced to the most revolting expedients to preserve life. An
Esquimaux, who had been about the post for two years, proceeded, in
the winter of 1839, to join some of his relatives along the coast.
When he returned in the ensuing spring, I observed that his mother
and one of his children were missing. On inquiring what had become of
them, he replied, that they had been starved to death, and that he and
the rest of his family would have shared their fate, had it not been
for the sustenance the bodies afforded.

The Esquimaux always pass the winter near the element that yields them
their principal subsistence; and as they are unacquainted with the
use of snow-shoes, they cannot follow the deer any distance from the
coast. As soon as the rivers are free from ice in summer, they proceed
inland and find abundance of food. Their manner of preserving their
meat is quite characteristic. When an animal is killed the bowels
are extracted, then the fore and hind quarters are cut off, and being
placed inside the carcass, are secured by skewers of wood run through
the flesh. The whole is then deposited under the nearest cleft
of rock, and stones are built round so as to secure it from the
depredations of wild animals until the hunters return to the coast;
when the meat is in high flavour, and considered fit for the palate of
an Esquimaux epicure.

The Esquimaux do not share their provisions as the Nascopies do,
although they relieve each other's wants when their means can afford
it: each individual engaged in the chase retains his own game, his
claim being ascertained by distinctive marks on the arrows. When a
whale is killed a rigid fast is observed for twenty-four hours, not in
gratitude to Providence, but in honour of the whale, which is highly
displeased when this is neglected, studiously avoiding the harpoon
afterwards, and even visiting the offender with sickness and other

Should the summer and fall hunt prove successful, the Esquimaux is one
of the happiest animals in the creation. He passes his dreary winter
without one careful or anxious thought; he eats his fill and lies
down to sleep, and then rises to eat again. In this manner they pass
the greater part of their time; night and day are the same, eating
and sleeping their chief enjoyments. When, however, they do rouse
their dormant faculties to exertion, they seem to engage with great
good-will in the few amusements they have, the principal of which
is playing ball, men and women joining in the game. Two parties are
opposed, the one driving the ball with sticks towards the goal,
the other driving it in the opposite direction; in short, a game of
shinty. They have dancing too,--ye gods! such dancing! Two rows of men
and women, sometimes only of one sex, stand opposite to each other,
exhibiting no other motion in their dancing than raising their
shoulders with a peculiar jerk, bending their knees so as to give
their whole bodies, from the knee upwards, the same motion, and
grinning horribly at each other, while not a foot stirs.

As to the music to which this _dance_ is performed, I know not well
how to describe it. By inflating and depressing the lungs so as
to create a convulsive heaving of the breast, a sound is produced,
somewhat similar to the groans of a person suffering from suffocation;
and it is to this sound they grin, and jerk their shoulders. The whole
performance is quite in keeping; the music worthy of the dancing, the
dancing worthy of the music. They have boxing too, but do not practise
the art after the fashion of the Cribs and Coopers; they disdain to
parry off the blow; each strikes in turn with clenched fist; the
blow is given behind the ear, and, as soon as one of the parties
acknowledges himself defeated, the combat ceases. They are also adepts
at wrestling; I have witnessed frequent contests between them and the
inland Indians, when the latter were invariably floored.

No one enjoys a joke better than an Esquimaux, and when his risibility
is excited he laughs with right good will, evincing in this, as in
every other respect, the difference of disposition between them and
the Indians, whose rigid features seldom betray their feelings. Much
the same diversity of character and disposition is to be observed
among the Esquimaux as among other barbarous tribes. Some instances
of disinterested kindness and generosity fell under my notice while
residing among them, that would have done honour to civilized man.

An Esquimaux who had attached himself to the establishment from the
time of our first arrival at Ungava, kept a poor widow and her three
orphans with him for several years, and seemed to make no difference
between them and the members of his own family. It must be
acknowledged, however, that the unhappy widows seldom fall into so
good hands; their fate is the most wretched that can be imagined,
unless they have children that can provide for them. In years of
scarcity they are rejected from the community, and hover about the
encampments like starving wolves, picking up whatever chance may
throw in their way, until hunger and cold terminate their wretched

Whatever may be said of the awkwardness of the Esquimaux dress, it
must be allowed to be the best adapted to the climate that could be
used: a pair of boots so skilfully sewed as to exclude the water, and
lined with down, or the fine hair of the rein-deer, protects the feet
from wet and cold; two pairs of trousers, the inner having the hair
next the skin; and two coats or tunics of deer or seal skin, the outer
having a large hood that is drawn over the head in stormy weather,
and a pair of large mits, complete the dress. The women also "wear
the breeks," their dress being similar to that of the men in every
respect, with this difference, that the female has a long flap
attached to the hind part of her coat, and falling down to her
heels; a most extraordinary ornament, giving her the appearance of
an enormous tadpole. This tail, however, has its use; when she has
occasion to sit down on the cold rocks she folds it up and makes a
seat of it.

In the winter season the Esquimaux live in huts built of snow; and
we may imagine what must have been the necessity and distress that
could first have suggested to a human being the idea of using such
a material as a means of protecting himself from cold. Be that as it
may, the snow _igloe_ affords not only security from the inclemency
of the weather, but more comfort than either stone or wooden building
without fire. The operation requires considerable tact and experience,
and is always performed by the men, two being required for it, one
outside and the other inside.

Blocks of snow are first cut out with some sharp instrument from the
spot that is intended to form the floor of the dwelling, and raised
on edge, inclining a little inward around the cavity. These blocks
are generally about two feet in length, two feet in breadth, and
eight inches thick, and are joined close together. In this manner the
edifice is erected, contracting at each successive tier, until there
only remains a small aperture at the top, which is filled by a slab of
clear ice, that serves both as a keystone to the arch, and a window to
light the dwelling. An embankment of snow is raised around the wall,
and covered with skins, which answers the double purpose of beds
and seats. The inside of the hut presents the figure of an arch or
dome; the usual dimensions are ten or twelve feet in diameter, and
about eight feet in height at the centre. Sometimes two or three
families congregate under the same roof, having separate apartments
communicating with the main building, that are used as bedrooms. The
entrance to the igloe is effected through a winding covered passage,
which stands open by day, but is closed up at night by placing slabs
of ice at the angle of each bend, and thus the inmates are perfectly
secured against the severest cold.

The Esquimaux use no fuel in winter; their stone lamps afford
sufficient heat to dry their boots and clothes, or warm their blubber
and raw meat when they are so inclined. They are inured to cold by
early habit; the children are carried about in the hoods of their
mothers' jackets until three years of age; during this period they
remain without a stitch of clothing, and the little things may be
sometimes seen standing up in their nests, exposing themselves in the
coldest weather, without appearing to suffer any inconvenience from
it. The Esquimaux never sleep with their clothes on, not even when
without any other shelter than the cleft of a rock.

It is well known that they eat their food, whether fish or flesh,
generally in a raw state; hence their appellation, "Ashkimai," in
the Cree and Sauteux, means, eater of raw meat, and is doubtless
the origin of the name Esquimaux first applied by the earlier French
discoverers, and since then passed into general use. They sometimes,
indeed, warm their food in a stone kettle over a stone lamp, but they
seem to relish it equally well when cut warm from the carcase of an
animal recently killed, which they may be seen devouring while yet
quivering with life.

In winter they prefer raw meat, especially fish, which is considered
a great delicacy in a frozen state; the Esquimaux stomach, in fact,
rejects nothing, raw or boiled, that affords sustenance. Like the
inland Indians, they can bear hunger for an amazing length of time,
and afterwards gorge themselves with more than brutal voracity without
suffering inconvenience by it.

The Esquimaux breed of dogs are wolves in a domesticated state, the
same in every characteristic, save such differences as may be expected
to result from their relative conditions; the dog howls, never barks.
These animals are of the most essential service to their masters,
and are maintained at no expense. How they manage to subsist appears
inexplicable to me; not a morsel of food is ever offered to them at
the camp, and when employed hauling sledges on a journey, a small
piece of blubber given them in the evening enables them to perform the
laborious work of the ensuing day.

From ten to fifteen dogs are employed on a long journey. They are
harnessed separately by a collar and a single trace passing over their
back, and fastened to the fore-part of the sledge. The traces are
so arranged that the dogs generally follow in a line, conducted by a
leader, who is trained to obey the word of command in an instant; the
least hesitation on his part brings the merciless whip about his ears.
The lash is about fifteen feet in length, the handle eighteen inches;
continual practice enables the Esquimaux to wield this instrument
of torture with great dexterity. The sledges are about five feet in
length and two in breadth; the runners generally shod with whalebone
or ivory, and coated over with a plaster of earth and water, which
becomes very smooth, and is renewed as often as it is worn out.

The Esquimaux _caiak_, or canoe, is about twelve feet in length, and
two feet in breadth, and tapers off from the centre to the bow and
stern, almost to a mere point. The frame is of wood covered with
seal-skin, having an aperture in the centre which barely admits of
the stowage of the nether man. These canoes are calculated for the
accommodation of one person only; yet it is possible for a passenger
to embark upon them, if he can submit to the inconvenience--and
risk--of lying at full length on his belly, without ever stirring
hand or foot, as the least motion would upset the canoe. Instances,
however, have been known of persons conveyed hundreds of miles in this
manner. These canoes are used solely for hunting; and, by means of the
double paddle, are propelled through the water with the velocity
of the dolphin; no land animal can possibly escape when seen in the
water; the least exertion is sufficient to keep up with the rein-deer
when swimming at its utmost speed. When the animal is overtaken, it is
driven towards the spot where the huntsman wishes to land, and there
despatched by a thrust of the spear.

The Esquimaux of this quarter have not the art of recovering their
position, when they upset. An accident of this kind is, therefore,
sure to prove fatal, unless aid be at hand. It is seldom, however,
that aid is wanting, for these accidents never happen except in the
excitement of the sport, especially harpooning whales, when there
are always a number present. The _ouimiack_, or skin-boat, is a
clumsy-looking contrivance, but not to be despised on that account;
from the buoyancy of the materials of which it is built, the ouimiack
stands a much heavier sea than our best sea-boat. This kind of craft
is rowed by women, and used for the purpose of conveying families
along the coast.

The few implements these people use for hunting or fishing, display
much taste and ingenuity. Their caiaks are proportioned with
mathematical exactness, the paddles often tastefully inlaid with
ivory; their spears are neatly carved, and their bows are far superior
to any I have seen among the interior tribes, combining strength and
elasticity in an eminent degree.

Their mode of capturing the white whale is extremely ingenious. A
large _dan_, or seal-skin inflated with wind, is attached to the
harpoon by a thong some twenty feet in length. The moment the fish is
struck the _dan_ is thrown overboard, and being dragged through the
water, offers so great a resistance to the movement of the fish that
it soon becomes exhausted by the exertion, and when it emerges lies
exposed on the water, to take rest ere it dive again. The Esquimaux
then approaches from behind, and often secures his game with
one thrust of the spear. The Esquimaux also uses a javelin with
considerable skill, and some are so dexterous in the use of the sling
as to bring down wild fowl on the wing.

The complexion of the Esquimaux is swarthy; I have seen some of their
children, however, as fair as the children of the fairest people
in Europe, yet these become as dark as their parents when advanced
in years. This circumstance cannot be accounted for by filthiness
or exposure to the weather; for I have observed, on the coast of
Labrador, the descendants of an Esquimaux mother and a European father
of the third generation as dark as the pure Esquimaux; and these, too,
enjoyed the comforts of civilized life, were cleanly in their persons,
and not more exposed to the weather than others.

The Esquimaux are low of stature, but I do not think the epithet
"dwarfish" applies to them with propriety. With the view of
ascertaining this point, I once took five men promiscuously from a
party of twenty, and found their average height to be 5 feet 5 inches.
Some individuals of the remainder measured 5 feet 7 or 8 inches, and
one exceeded 6 feet. The fact is, the Esquimaux are generally thicker
than Europeans; their peculiar dress also adds greatly to their bulk,
so that they appear shorter than they really are. They are so bound up
in their seal-skin garments that their movements are necessarily much
impeded by them, we can, therefore, form no idea of their agility; but
I do not hesitate to say that their strength exceeds that of any other
nation on the continent.

The Esquimaux features are far from being disagreeable; some females
I observed among them whose expression of countenance was extremely
prepossessing, and who would pass for "bonnie lasses" even among the
whites, if divested of their filth and uncouth dress, and rigged out
in European habiliments. The women fasten their hair in a knot on the
crown of the head, and anoint it with rancid oil in lieu of pomatum;
they also tattoo their faces, with the view, no doubt, of enhancing
their charms in the estimation of their blubber-eating lovers. Their
teeth are remarkably white and regular; the eyes are black, and
partake more of the circular than the oval form; the cheek-bones are
prominent, forehead low, mouth large, and chin pointed.

The Esquimaux generally enjoy good health, and no epidemic diseases,
as far as I could learn, are known among them.



The country denominated Labrador, extends from Esquimaux Bay, on
the Straits of Belleisle, to the extremity of the continent, Cape
Chudleigh, at the entrance of Hudson's Strait. The interior is
inhabited by two tribes of Indians, Mountaineers and Nascopies,
members of the Cree family. The coast was inhabited at one time by
Esquimaux only, but the southern part is now peopled by a mongrel race
of Esquimaux half-breeds, a few vagabond Esquimaux, and some English
and Canadian fishermen and trappers, who are assimilated to the
natives in manners and in mode of life. While the European inhabitants
adopt from necessity some of the native customs, the natives
have adopted so much of the European customs that their primitive
characteristics are no longer distinguishable; they cook their
victuals, drink rum, smoke and chew tobacco, and generally dress after
the European manner, especially the females, who always wear gowns.
They have also a smattering of French and English, and are great
proficients in swearing in both languages; nor do they seem ignorant
of the more refined arts of cheating, lying, and deceiving. Taking
everything into account, however, we may be surprised that their
manners are not more corrupt than they are.

A number of small trading vessels from the United States hover about
the coast during summer; the accursed "fire-water" constitutes a
primary article in their outfit, and is bartered freely for such
commodities as the natives may possess. These adventurers are
generally men of loose principles, and are ever ready to take the
advantage of their customers. The natives, however, are now so well
instructed that they are more likely to cheat than be cheated.

The Esquimaux inhabiting the northern parts of the coast differ in
every respect from their neighbours of the south. They have acquired
a knowledge of the Christian religion, together with some of the more
useful arts of civilized life, without losing much of their primitive
simplicity. The Moravian Brethren, those faithful "successors of the
Apostles," after enduring inconceivable hardships and privations for
many years, without the least prospect of success, at length succeeded
in converting the heathens, collecting them in villages around them,
and at the same time not only instructing them in things pertaining to
their eternal salvation, but in everything else that could contribute
to their comfort and happiness in the present life. There are four
different stations of the Brethren; Hopedale, Nain, O'Kok, and Hebron.
At each station there is a church, store, dwelling-house for the
Missionaries, and workshops for native tradesmen. The natives are
lodged in houses built after the model of their _igloes_, being the
best adapted to the climate and circumstances of the country, where
scarcely any fuel is to be had: the Missionaries warm their houses by
means of stoves.

The Brethren have much the same influence with their flocks as a
father among his children. Whatever provisions the natives collect
are placed at their disposal, and by them afterwards distributed in
such a manner as to be of the most general benefit; by thus taking
the management of this important matter into their own hands, the
consequences of waste and improvidence are guarded against, and the
means of subsistence secured.

In years of great scarcity the Brethren open their own stores, having
always an ample supply of provisions on hand, so that through their
fostering care the natives never suffer absolute want. The Brethren
have also goods for trading, which they dispose of at a moderate
profit; the profits accruing from the business are thrown into the
general funds of the institution. It is said they carry on trade in
every part of the world where they have missions. Their object is not
to acquire wealth for selfish purposes, but to extend the kingdom of
Christ on earth; to enlighten the nations; and by instructing them in
the knowledge of Divine truth, to "ameliorate their condition" in this
life, and secure their eternal happiness in the life to come.

From the paternal anxiety with which these good people watch over the
morals of their flocks, they discourage as much as possible the visits
of strangers; fearing that intercourse with them might open their eyes
to the allurements of vice. In spite of all their vigilance, however,
they have sometimes to deplore the loss of a stray sheep. It is an
established rule, moreover, with them, never to allow a stranger to
sleep within their gates; he is hospitably received and treated with
kindness and attention, but on the approach of evening he is apprised
that he must shift for himself: care is taken, however, to provide him
with lodgings in one of the native huts, where he can pass the night
in tolerable comfort. Should he not be pleased with his treatment, he
is at liberty to depart when he pleases.

The European inhabitants of Labrador are for the most part British
sailors, who, preferring the freedom of a semi-barbarous life and the
society of a brown squaw, to the severity of maritime discipline and
the endearments of the civilized fair, take up their abode for life in
this land of desolation.

In course of time the gay frolicksome sailor settles down into the
regular grave father of a family; and by sobriety and good conduct,
may ultimately secure a comfortable home for his old age. Jack's
characteristic thoughtlessness, however, sometimes adheres to him even
when moored on dry land; and when this is the case, his situation is
truly miserable.

They pass the summer in situations favourable for catching salmon,
which they barter on the spot with the stationary traders for such
commodities as they are in want of. When the salmon fishing is at
an end, they proceed to the coast for the purpose of fishing cod for
their own consumption, and return late in autumn to the interior,
where they pass the winter trapping fur animals.

The planters, as they are designated, live in houses which they
call "tilts," varying in shape and size according to the taste or
circumstances of the owner. These buildings are generally formed of
stakes driven into the ground, chinked with moss, and covered with
bark; they are always warmed with stoves, otherwise the _igloe_ would
afford more comfort.

The half-breeds live in much the same way as their European
progenitors; they are generally sober and industrious; and although
unacquainted with any particular form of religious worship, they
evince, in their general deportment, a greater regard to the precepts
of Christianity than many who call themselves Christians. They are
entirely free from the crimes that disgrace civilized life, and are
guilty of few of its vices; should a frail fair, however, make a _faux
pas_, it is no bar to her forming a matrimonial connexion afterwards.
The women are much fewer than the men, and on this account a greater
indulgence may be extended to their faults than otherwise would be.

I was surprised to find them all able to read and write, although
without schools or schoolmasters. The task of teaching devolves
upon the mother; should she (what seldom happens) be unqualified, a
neighbour is always ready to impart the desired instruction.

The Esquimaux half-breeds are both industrious and ingenious; they
are at a loss for nothing. The men make their own boats, and the women
prepare everything required for domestic convenience; almost every
man is his own blacksmith and carpenter, and every woman a tailor and
shoemaker. They seem to possess all the virtues of the different races
from which they are sprung--except courage; they are generally allowed
to be more timid than the natives. But if not courageous, they possess
virtues that render courage less necessary; they avoid giving offence,
and are seldom, therefore, injured by others.

The Hudson's Bay Company obtained a footing here a few years ago, by
buying out some of the petty traders, whose operations extended to the
interior, and consequently interfered with the hopeful Ungava scheme;
independently, however, of this consideration, expectations were
entertained that Labrador might become the seat of a profitable branch
of the business, from its various resources in fish, oil, and furs.
These expectations were not realized, owing to the strong competition
the Company met with; while their interference in the trade subjected
them to the charge of "grasping ambition," a charge which appears but
too well founded, considering the monopoly they possess of the whole
fur trade of the continent. "Plus le D----e a, plus il voudrait
avoir," is an old adage; nor have we any reason to believe that any
other mercantile body would be less ambitious of increasing their
gains, than their _honours_ of Fenchurch-street.

There are several establishments along the coast, belonging chiefly to
merchants from Plymouth and Dartmouth, who carry on the salmon and cod
fisheries on an extensive scale, and traffic also with the planters.
This business was at one time considered very lucrative; of late
years, however, competition has increased from all quarters, and
prices in the European market have diminished, so that the profits are
now greatly reduced.

The climate of the southern section of Labrador is by no means severe;
the thermometer, even in the coldest months of the year, seldom
falling lower than 30° below zero. Along the shores of Esquimaux Bay,
a few spots have been found favourable for agriculture, and potatoes
and other culinary vegetables have been raised in abundance. Grain,
especially oats and barley, would doubtless also thrive; it so
happens, however, that the inhabitants are under the necessity of
devoting their attention to other pursuits during the season of
husbandry; so that the few that attempt "gardening," derive small
benefit from it. They sow their seed before starting for the coast,
and leave nature to do the rest.

I shall close my description of Labrador by narrating a rather
tragical event that occurred a few years ago. An old fisherman,
formerly a sailor, and his only son by an Esquimaux squaw, lived
together in the greatest amity and concord. The son, after the death
of his mother, attended to domestic affairs, and also assisted his
father at out-door's work. As the fishing season approached, however,
it was considered expedient to hire a female, so that they might give
their undivided attention to the fishing. The girl had not remained
long with them, when her charms began to make an impression on Jack's
still sensitive heart; the son also became enamoured; both paid their
addresses, and, as a matter of course, the young man was preferred.

The demon of jealousy now took possession of the father's breast; and
his conduct became so violent and cruel, that his son determined on
parting company with him and carrying off the girl. Seizing the only
boat that belonged to his father, he slipped away under cover of night
with his companion, and put ashore on the first island they found. A
violent storm arose in the course of the night, and either dashed the
boat to pieces on the rocks, or carried her out to sea; and thus the
unfortunate lovers were left to their fate. This event happened late
in autumn. The winter passed without any word being heard of the
lovers; in the ensuing spring their bodies were found clasped in each
other's arms, and the young man's gun close by with fifteen notches
cut in the stock, supposed to mark the number of days they suffered
ere relieved by death.



1842.--I embarked for England on the 18th of August, on board a small
schooner of sixty tons, deeply laden with fish and oil. It is scarcely
necessary to observe, that the accommodations the craft afforded
were of the meanest kind; but the inconveniences weighed lightly in
the scales, when compared with the anticipated delight of visiting
one's native land. We had a very fine passage; a steady fair breeze
carried us across the broad Atlantic in a fortnight. The green hills
of Cornwall came in view on the 1st of September, and I had the
satisfaction of treading the soil of England early on the 3d.

I remained a few days at Plymouth, to feast my eyes on scenery such as
I had long been a stranger to;--scenery, I may say, unrivalled by any
I had ever beheld at home or abroad. What spot in the world, in fact,
can present such varied charms, as the summit of Mount Edgecumb? where
the most refined taste, aided by the amplest means, has been employed
for a thousand years in beautifying the glorious landscape. To me,
just arrived from _Ungava_, the beauties of the scene were undoubtedly
heightened by the contrast; and one short visit to Mount Edgecumb
effaced from my mind the dreary prospect of bleak rocks, snow banks,
and icebergs, with which it had been so long and so sadly familiar,
and inspired it with a rapture and delight to which it had long been
a stranger. Yet this terrestrial paradise, I am informed, belongs to
a noble lord, who is a miserable invalid. Alas, for poor humanity!
neither wealth nor grandeur preserve their possessors from the ills
that flesh is heir to: and this nobleman may, perhaps, envy the lot of
the humblest individual that visits his enchanting domain.

Bidding adieu to Plymouth, and its delightful environs, I set out
for London on the 11th of September. The desire of home, however,
now urged me forward; so that even the wonders of this wonderful
city could not detain me. Passing over the uninteresting incidents of
steamboat and railroad travelling, I arrived on the 20th of September
at the spot from which I had started twenty-three years before. The
meeting of a mother with an only son, after so long an absence, need
not be described, nor the feelings the well-known scenes of youthful
sports and youthful joys gave rise to. These scenes were still the
same, as far as the hand of Nature was concerned:--there stood the
lofty Benmore, casting his sombre shades over the glassy surface of
Lochba, as in the days of yore; there were also the same heath-covered
hills and wooded dells, well stocked with sheep and cattle; but
the human inhabitants of the woods and dells--where were they?--far
distant from their much-loved native land in the wilds of America,
or toiling for a miserable existence in the crowded cities of the
Lowlands,--a sad change! The bleating of sheep, and lowing of cattle,
for the glad voices of a numerous population, happy and contented with
their lot, loyal to their sovereign, and devotedly attached to their
chiefs! But loyalty and attachment are but fancies, which, in these
utilitarian and trading days, are flat and unprofitable; yet the
aristocratical manufacturers of beef and mutton may live to feel the
truth of the lines of Goldsmith:--

  "But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
  When once destroyed, can never be supplied."

I remained about six weeks in my native country, and set out for
London, where I arrived early in November,--"the beginning of the gay
season;" but it appeared to me the reverse. The city was shrouded in
a cloud of condensed smoke and fog, that shut out the light of heaven.
During three whole days the obscurity was so great that the steamboats
were prevented from plying on the Thames, and the gas-lights were
seen glimmering through the windows at noon-day. How applicable is
the description of the Roman historian to the Rome of our day:--"Caput
orbis terrarum, urbis magnificentiam augebant fora, templa, porticas,
aquæductus, theatra, horti denique, et ejus generis alia, ad quæ
vel lecta animus stupet." My time was too limited, however, and the
weather too unfavourable, to admit of my seeing all the "lions;" but
who would think of leaving London without visiting that wonderful
work--the Tunnel,--that lasting monument of the genius of a Brunell,
and of the wealth and enterprise of British merchants!

A Cockney may well boast of his great city, its wealth, its vast
population, and its magnificent buildings; but with regard to the
Thames, of which he is equally proud,--he that has seen the St.
Lawrence, the Hudson, the McKenzie, and many others, compared to which
the Thames is but a rivulet, may be excused if he cannot view its
not very limpid waters with the same extravagant admiration as the
Londoner, who calls the Serpentine a river, and dignifies a pond of a
few roods in extent with the name of a lake. Yet there is one feature
about the Thames, of which he can scarcely be too proud, and which
is unparalleled perhaps in the world,--the often-noticed "forest of
masts," extending farther than the eye can reach, and suggesting,--not
the silence and solitude of the forests with which I have been
familiar,--but the countless population, the wealth, and the grandeur
of Britain; and the might and the majesty of civilized and industrious

I took leave of London on the 12th of September, and set out for
Liverpool by railroad, and reached it in six hours. I had sufficient
time to visit its docks, crowded by the ships of every nation; its
warehouses containing the produce of every clime; and, though last,
not least in my estimation, the splendid monument erected to the
memory of Nelson. No monument of stone or brass is necessary to
perpetuate our hero's fame; he lives in the heart of every true
Briton, and will ever live, till British oak and British prowess shall
cease to "rule the waves."

I embarked on the 15th of December on board a sailing-packet bound
for New York. These vessels are so punctual to the hour of sailing
advertised, that, if the wind proves contrary, and blows fresh, they
are towed out to sea by steamboats. This proved to be our case, and we
kept tacking about in the "chops" of the Channel for six days, when
a fair wind sprung up that soon carried us out of sight of England.
England! great and glorious country, adieu! I shall probably never
see thee more; but in quitting thy white-cliffed shores, I quit not my
ardent attachment and veneration for thee;--and now for _thy_ eldest
daughter beyond the ocean!

To me, who had spent so much of my lifetime in solitude, the tedium
of the voyage so much complained of was gaiety itself; with three
fellow-passengers besides the captain, the time passed very agreeably.
On board these floating palaces a passenger, in fact, finds everything
that can contribute to his comfort; the best of accommodation, the
best of fare, and the best of attendance; so that there is nothing
wanting but _stability_, to make him fancy himself in a first-class
hotel on shore.

The weather proved extremely favourable throughout the passage; not an
incident occurred worthy of notice; and on the 17th of January, 1843,
I landed safely at New York, and thus found myself for the first time
in a foreign land; and, since fate has so decreed, among a foreign
people. Yes! they are foreigners, if being called by another name, and
living under a different form of government can make them so; yet in
language, in laws, in religion, and in blood, we are the same. Their
ancestors brought abroad with them the same sentiments of regard
and attachment to their native land as we feel; they rejoiced in the
prosperity of Britain; felt proud of her victories, and grieved at
her misfortunes. Alas, how different the feelings of the present race!
Britain may, in fact, reckon the Americans of the present day her most
inveterate foes; those who are of our own kindred, and whom therefore
we might expect to stand by us in our hour of need, regard us with
more envy and hatred than the "hereditary foes" with whom we have been
for centuries engaged in mortal strife.

In resisting the arbitrary acts of a misguided government, the
American people only proved themselves possessed of the same noble
spirit that procured for their English progenitors the confirmation of
Magna Charta, and that hurled a tyrant from his throne. The heroes of
the American revolution nobly fought and conquered; they entered the
arena with fearful odds against them; they continued the struggle
under every disadvantage, save the sacredness of their cause; and
finally won the prize for which they contended. Of that prize the
Americans of the present day have undisputed possession; and nothing
can be more certain than that the Britons of the present day have no
wish to deprive them of it--even if they could. What cause, then, can
there be for still cherishing those feelings of animosity which the
unhappy disruption gave rise to? If our fathers quarrelled, cannot
we be friends? But are not the British themselves to blame, in
some measure, for the continuance of these irritated feelings? The
mercenary pens of prejudiced, narrow-minded individuals contribute
daily to add fuel to the flame. Our "Diaries," and our "Notes,"
replete with offensive remarks, are, from the cheapness of
publication, disseminated through the length and breadth of the Union,
and are in everybody's hands; and those foolish remarks are supposed
to be the sentiments of the British nation; when they are in fact
only the sentiments of individuals whose opinions are little valued at
home, and ought to be less valued abroad.

Circumstances taken into consideration, I think it very unfair to
draw comparisons between the social condition of young America, just
become a distinct nation, and of old England, whose empire has lasted
a thousand years. The American people are still too much occupied
with the necessaries of life to devote much of their time to its
elegancies; they are still engaged in the pursuits that ultimately
ensure wealth and real independence. Those results attained, what is
there to prevent the American gentleman from becoming as polished and
accomplished as his cousin in Britain? Can it be supposed, with the
least shadow of reason, that the short period that has elapsed since
the Revolution can have been sufficient to produce that alteration in
the character and manners of the Americans, which our travellers love
to exercise their wit upon? It is impossible. The Americans "guessed,"
and "calculated," and "speculated," while they were British subjects,
just as they do now; nor have they learned to chew, and spit, and
smoke tobacco since the 4th of July, 1782.

As to the peculiar phrases the Americans use in conversation, I am
convinced that their forefathers brought the greater part of them from
Britain, as many of those phrases are to be found in the works of
old English authors still extant. The English language as spoken in
America, is elegance itself, compared to the provincial dialects of
Britain, or even to the vile slang one hears in the streets of London.
This is a fact that every unprejudiced person who has travelled in
America must admit.

It appears Americans find leisure, of late years, to travel and take
notes, as well as their transatlantic brethren; and, in return for the
polite attentions of our travellers, describe England and Englishmen
in the bitter language of recrimination and retort; and thus the
enmity between the mother and daughter is kept alive and perpetuated.
A publication of this kind fell lately into my hands, entitled, "The
Glory and Shame of England." The writer, said to be a _Christian
minister_, with the malignity of baser minds, sinks and keeps in the
background her "glories," and brings into relief and dwells upon her
shameful parts; representing in the most sombre colours the misery of
the "squalid" population of our cities. Would to God there were not
so much truth in the picture! His reverence, however, seems to have
lost sight of the clergyman; and in gratifying his resentment against
England, and in his zeal to kindle the same unchristian feeling in
the breasts of his countrymen, has not hesitated to sacrifice the
truth;--and he a clergyman, whose office it is to "proclaim peace on
earth, and good-will to men!"

That there is much misery and wretchedness in England, none can deny;
but will not the well-informed philanthropist consider it rather as
our misfortune than our reproach?--consisting mainly, as that mass
of wretchedness does, of those ills which neither "kings nor laws can
cause or cure." What plan would this philanthropic divine recommend to
remove those evils, which, while he affects to deplore, he yet glories
over? Strip the nobility and land-owners of their possessions--convert
our monarchy into a republic--and the church into a "meetin ouse?"

These _reforms_ effected, would the people of England be permanently
benefited by them? Supposing the whole arable soil of England were
divided in equal portions among its crowded inhabitants, (passing
by the injustice of robbing the present proprietors of their lawful
possessions--many of them acquired by the same hard labour or skill
by which an artisan gains his weekly wages,) would the equality
of property long continue? Would not the sloth, improvidence, and
imprudence, that ever distinguish a great proportion of mankind; and
the industry, foresight, and ambition that characterise others, soon
bring many of the equal lots into one, thus forming a great estate,
the property of an individual,--when matters would just be at the
point where his reverence found them? And then, of course, would
follow another "equitable adjustment," to relieve the wants of the
poor, whose progenitors had squandered their patrimony. Or, admitting
that the lots remained in possession of the families to whom they were
originally granted, would the produce be equal to the maintenance
of their numerous descendants, when the property became divided and
subdivided into fifty or a hundred shares?

The present proprietors of the soil of England have, undoubtedly,
large incomes; but what becomes of those incomes? Do they not flow
back into the hands of the merchants, tradesmen, servants, &c.?--the
greater proportion, at least; for the sums expended by our tourists
on the continent form so inconsiderable a portion of those incomes,
as not to be worth mentioning. The same may be said of the _alleged_
wealth of the clergy; for (admitting the allegation) it all flows back
into the channels whence it issued; and, although neither belonging
to the Church of England, nor approving of her forms of government, I
do not think that her downfall would improve the _temporal_ condition
of the people. If we wish to remain a Christian nation, we cannot
dispense with the services of the clergy; and in order that those
services may be efficient, they must be maintained in independence and

As to a republican form of government, that experiment has been
already tried in England, and failed; it may be tried again with no
better success. The circumstances in which the American people found
themselves after the Revolution, rendered the adoption of republican
institutions both safe and beneficial. They had learned by experience
that the remote position of their country secured their independence
from the ambitious projects of any power in Europe; while they had
nothing to fear from any power in America. Thus situated, any form of
government, consistent with the due maintenance of good order at home,
answered their purpose. The nascent republic might, at the period in
question, have adopted as its motto, "Liberty and Equality," with
the utmost propriety; for all enjoyed equal liberty, and nearly equal
fortunes. Experience, however, shows that liberty and equality cannot
long exist under any form of government; industry procures wealth,
wealth induces ambition, and ambition sighs after distinction and

While America feels secure from the aggression of her neighbours,
Great Britain is surrounded by powerful states, some of whom afford
her daily proofs of their envy of her greatness and their hatred of
her power; and only want the ability, not the will, to annihilate
both. Those states are, for the most part, ruled by absolute or
despotic governments, who can call fleets and armies into action
without losing a moment in debating the justice or injustice, policy
or impolicy, of their movements. With such neighbours as these, would
the Messenger of Peace recommend the "Britishers" to adopt a form of
government which would necessitate them to debate and consult while
their enemies were acting; and to remit to the people to discuss the
question of peace or war, when they should be enlisting and drilling

Columbia, happy land! the broad Atlantic intervenes between thee and
the envy or hatred of Europe; thy wide domain, presenting millions of
acres of untenanted land, stands open to the industry and enterprise
of thy citizens. How thankful, then, ought they to be for the
blessings they enjoy, compared with the condition of their brethren
"beyond the water," confined as they are to the narrow limits of their
sea-girt isle, whose soil is no longer sufficient for the support of
its over-crowded inhabitants, and surrounded by hostile nations, who
have long since pronounced the sentence, "_Delenda est Britannia!_"

"Boz" has already told his countrymen all that is worth telling about
New York, and something more. What the "Dickens" brought him to
the "Five Points?" Did he never visit Wapping with the same views,
whatever they might be? If he did, did he observe nothing in that sink
of filth and wickedness equal to the scenes that shocked him so much
in the outskirts of New York? One just arrived from England finds
little in this city to excite wonder or admiration, unless it be the
extraordinary width of some of the streets. Were those streets kept
clean, and the liberty of the pigs a little restrained, the citizens
might well boast of their superiority to most of the streets of our
British cities; and as their taste improves, everything unsightly will
be removed.

Nature has done much for New York: she possesses one of the finest
harbours in the world; her climate is pleasant and salubrious; and
one of the noblest rivers of America gives her the command of the
commercial resources of a country which equals in extent nearly all
Europe. New York will undoubtedly become one of the first cities in
the world; in commerce, in wealth, in population, she has advanced at
a prodigious rate within the last fifty years, and her progress is not
likely to be arrested.

The aqueduct that supplies the town with water, pure, wholesome, and
abundant, is well worth the notice of a stranger. This stupendous work
was executed at a cost of nine millions of dollars, and conveys the
water from a distance of forty miles!--the genius of the engineer
and the power of money overcoming every obstacle. The two great
reservoirs, near the city, present splendid specimens of that kind of
architecture. Happening in company to express my opinion of this work,
as reflecting the highest credit on the enterprise of the citizens, a
gentleman present, evidently an American, in reply to the compliment,
observed, "It is very much to their advantage, no doubt, and it will
also be much to their credit, if they pay the debt they incurred in
constructing it." The fact is, that this and many other public works
in the United States, have been executed by British capital. Would to
heaven that our _sympathising_ friends, who are so jealous in regard
to the honour of America, where a few thousand acres of worthless land
are concerned, were equally jealous in regard to it when, under the
newly-invented name of _repudiation_, the honour of their country is
tarnished by a vast system of unblushing robbery! Would to heaven that
their _sympathies_ were extended to the thousands who are involved in
misery and ruin by this audacious system of national perfidy!

If the art or ingenuity of the good citizens of New York has not
produced very many objects worthy of admiration, the faces of their
lovely fair make ample amends for it. Among the crowds of charmers
who throng the fashionable promenade of Broadway, scarcely an ordinary
face is to be seen. I, in fact, saw more pretty faces there in one
hour than in all my tour in Britain.

I landed in New York without any prejudice against the Americans, and
I now take leave of their commercial capital with feelings of esteem
and regret. In the society I frequented I neither saw nor heard
anything unworthy of, or unbecoming the descendants of Britons. Some
little peculiarities, the natural result of circumstances, I certainly
noticed; some differences also in their social life; but I shall leave
it to those who are disposed to find fault to criticise these matters.



The navigation of the Hudson not being yet interrupted by ice, I
determined on proceeding to Albany by steamboat, in preference to the
railroad, with the view of seeing the far-famed scenery of the country
through which the river flows. I accordingly embarked on the 5th of
February. We had not proceeded far, however, when we found the face of
the country covered with snow; and thus the pleasure I had anticipated
from my aquatic trip was in a great measure lost.

Winter had set in in earnest, and the cold became so severe as we
ascended, that the deck was abandoned, and the nearest seat to the
stove was considered the best. The passengers being now all crowded
below, the group presented a complete epitome of American society:
here were members of the legislature proceeding to the capital on
parliamentary duty; here also were congregated in the same cabin,
merchants, mechanics, and farmers, messing at the same board, and at
first mixed up promiscuously together. They did not, however, long
continue so; the more respectable part, separating from the crowd,
occupied one end of the cabin, the plebeians occupied the other. Thus
the homogeneous ingredients of the mass having united, no further
mixture took place during the passage.

It is true, one of patrician rank might occasionally be observed
stepping beyond the ideal boundary, and sitting down among the
plebeians, probably some of his constituents,--would call for a pipe,
and, stretching out his legs, commence to puff, spit, and debate, like
one of themselves; and having by these means convinced them that he
still considered them as his _equals_, would retire again _ad suos_.

The Americans are accused by Europeans of being cold and reserved
towards strangers; for my part, I found them sociable and
communicative in the extreme. A few hours after I had embarked on
board the steamboat I found myself quite at home. I was much pleased
to observe the rational manner in which the passengers amused
themselves. Little groups were formed, where religion, politics and
business matters were discussed with excellent sense and judgment.
These seemed to be the common topics of discourse in both ends of the
cabin. I frequented both, and saw nothing indecorous or improper in
either, save the spitting and the outrageous rush to the table; such a
scene as the latter is only to be seen in America.

The servants bawl out at the top of their lungs:--

"Time enough, gentlemen! time enough! No hurry, no hurry!"

Onward they rush, however, crowding, pushing, elbowing, until they
take their seats. I was, however, particularly struck with the
attention shown to the ladies, the great sobriety of all classes, and
the total absence of impure or profane expressions in conversation.
How unlike the scenes one witnesses on board our steamboats in
Britain, where the meaner sort of passengers seem to travel on purpose
to indulge in drinking!

I arrived at Albany late on the 7th, our progress having been much
retarded by the quantity of ice drifting in the river. Finding that
the mail was to start for Canada in the course of the night, I decided
on going with it, without seeing the capital of New York. Owing to the
mildness of the season up to the present time, the roads were in
the worst possible condition, and the motion of the carriage passing
rapidly over the rugged surface of the muddy roads recently frozen
solid, was not only disagreeable, but even painful.

We continued, however, to jolt on night and day, without rest, save
during the short time necessary for changing or baiting cattle. The
roads became worse, if possible, as we proceeded. A considerable
quantity of snow had fallen lately, which rendered travelling
in a wheeled carriage not only disagreeable in the extreme, but
also dangerous. We broke down several times, but without serious
inconvenience. On one of these occasions we picked ourselves up
opposite a farm house, in which we took shelter while the driver was
putting matters to rights. It being yet early, the inmates were still
in bed; we nevertheless found a rousing fire blazing on the hearth,
and seated ourselves around it.

All of a sudden the door of a small apartment flew open, and a large
black cat sprang in amongst us.

"Ha! what do you think of that, now?" said one of the passengers,
addressing himself to me. "What do you think of the ingenuity of our
Yankee cats? Had Boz witnessed that feat, we should have had a page or
two more to his notes; and I am sure it would have proved at least as
interesting to the reader as the nigger driver's conversation with his

"That's a fact," said I.

After being jolted and pitched about until every bone in my body
ached again, I reached St. John's on the 12th; and the snow being now
sufficiently deep to admit of travelling with sleighs, the remainder
of the journey to Montreal was accomplished in comparative comfort.



I spent the remainder of the winter enjoying the good things of this
life, and on the 28th of April received orders to proceed to Lachine,
preparatory to embarking for the north. I embarked on the 29th, but
the crews were so intoxicated that we were compelled to land on an
island near by, to allow them to recover from the effects of their

I was joined here by Captain Stalk of the 71st, and Lieutenant Lefroy
of the Artillery; the former accompanying us on a jaunt of pleasure,
the latter on a scientific expedition. There were also four junior
clerks in the Company's service. Our brigade consisted of three large
canoes manned by about fifty Canadians, and Iroquois Indians.

We were detained in our insular encampment by stress of weather until
the 2d of May, when we set out. Our crews being now perfectly sober,
plied their paddles with the utmost good-will, singing and whooping,
apparently delighted with their situation. Ignorance here was bliss;
they little dreamed of the life that awaited them. I may here premise,
that as I have already narrated the particulars of a similar voyage,
I shall pass on to the different stages of our route without noticing
the uninteresting incidents of our daily progress.

We arrived at Fort William on the 28th of May, where we exchanged our
large Montreal canoes for smaller. Here Captain S. remained to await
his passage back to Canada; not much disposed to try such a jaunt
of pleasure again, I suspect,--and Lieutenant L., taking a canoe for
himself with a view of prosecuting his scientific researches more at
leisure than our go-a-head mode of travelling admitted, left us also.
We were detained a day at Fort William, repairing canoes, arranging
crews, &c., and on the 30th, I took leave of my excellent _compagnons
de voyage_ with sincere regret.

On descending Lac la Pluie River, we landed at an extensive Sauteux
camp, where we found a Protestant (Methodist) Missionary, with a
native interpreter as his only companion. I learned with much regret,
that this gentleman's exertions in his vocation had been attended with
little or no success, although he had been two years engaged in it;
while the Romish priests, in the same space of time, had converted

The natives were occupied with the sturgeon fishing, and had
apparently been tolerably successful. Having procured a supply for the
use of our crews by barter, we set off, and without experiencing any
accident, reached Bas de la Rivière on the 13th of June, where I found
letters from the Governor, directing me to proceed with all possible
speed to York Factory.

Having learned on my way coming up, that one of the gentlemen in
McKenzie's River district had resigned, and would quit the country
this year,--I felt convinced I should be appointed his successor; that
being one of the most wretched parts of the Indian country, it was
quite a matter of course that I should be sent thither. Knowing from
dear-bought experience, however, that my constitution could no
longer bear the hardships and privations to which I had been so long
subjected, I wrote the Governor on the subject, and requested that
he would grant me an appointment where I might enjoy some degree of
comfort--a favour which I humbly conceived my former services entitled
me to--otherwise I should retire from the service. We had a fine
passage across Lake Winnipeg, and I landed at Norway House with all my
party safe and sound, on the 18th of June. I remained there till the
21st, and then set out for York Factory, where I had been about ten
days, when an express arrived from Norway House with the Governor's
final orders to me, and also his reply to my last communication, which
I here insert at full length.

"Red River Settlement, "_June_ 22, 1843.


"My eyes are so completely worn out, that I cannot give you a single
private line under my own hand. I have perused with attention your
private letter of the 14th instant, and should have been glad had it
been in my power to have met your wishes in regard to an appointment;
but from the few commissioned gentlemen disposable this season, it was
quite impossible to consult wishes. You were, therefore, long before
receipt of your letter, appointed to McKenzie's River. That is now one
of the finest fields we have for extension of trade, and I count much
on your activity for promoting our views in that quarter. But while
directing your attention to the extension of _your district_, you must
likewise use your best endeavours to curtail the indents, as they have
of late been on a most alarming scale, comprehending nearly as many
articles as appear in our Columbia requisition; if you look on my
notes on the last requisition, you will find that I have been under
the necessity of making some further curtailments. I am sorry the
idea of retiring has entered your mind, as I was in hopes we could
count upon some efficient services out of you while still young and

"The Company have of late declined making any purchases of retired
interests; it would be therefore quite unnecessary to make any
application on that head, as they have lost money by all the recent
purchases they have made in that way.

"I am at the Lower Fort, where Mr. Ross came in on me very
unexpectedly, just as we were preparing to get on horseback for the
upper part of the settlement, so that I am much pressed for time,
which will account for the brevity of this communication.

"Pray let me hear from you in Canada by the last canoes, as I shall
not then have taken my departure from Montreal.

"I remain, &c. &c.


Judging, from the instructions contained in the above communication,
that I was appointed to the charge of the district, I made up my mind
to try how far my health could endure the hardships of which I already
had had more than my share; and without a moment's delay, set out for
Norway House in a light canoe, where I arrived on the 16th of July.
My friend Mr. C---- arrived with his returns from Athabasca a few
days afterwards, and his arrangements being completed on the 24th, I
embarked as a passenger with him.

We reached the small river Mithai on the 4th of September, when we
found the water so low as barely to admit of the passage of the
light boats. It happened most fortunately that there were a number of
Chippewayan Indians encamped on the spot at the time, else we should
have been completely at a nonplus. The crews, good souls! hired
those Indians at their own expense, to carry the greater part of the
property in their small canoes to the upper part of the river. At the
portage we found a number of half-breeds, with their horses, from
the Saskatchewan, awaiting our arrival, in the expectation of being
employed to transport the goods. Nor were they disappointed; sooner
than undergo the harassing toil of carrying the outfit across a
portage of twelve miles, the men hired the half-breeds, parting with
their most valuable articles in payment.

Several propositions have been made, of late years, to the Governor,
for sparing the men the inhuman labour of this portage, which they
must either perform, or sacrifice a considerable part of their paltry
wages to avoid it. It was suggested, for instance, that a sufficient
number of horses should be stationed at a certain locality, with the
requisite conveniences, near the portage, and a couple of men hired
on purpose to take care of them, whose wages the winterers should
pay out of their own pockets, which they readily assented to; as the
transport, by this arrangement, would only cost them one-third of what
it cost them to employ the half-breeds. His Excellency, however, was
quite "sick" of the Portage La Loche subject; he knew as much about it
as anybody, and felt quite assured that it was the easiest part of the
men's duties throughout the voyage! While canoes were used, the duty
at Portage la Loche was not nearly so severe as at present; a canoe
carried only twenty-five pieces, and was manned by six men; a boat's
crew consists only of seven men, while the cargo consists of from
sixty to seventy pieces.

The descent of the Clear Water and Athabasca rivers was effected
without any accident, and we arrived at Athabasca on the 16th of
September; whence I set out again, after a few days' delay, for Fort
Resolution, on Great Slave Lake, where I was detained by stress of
weather until the 29th.

I left the post late in the evening, and intended to encamp on an
island at a convenient distance; but the season being far advanced, I
felt anxious to proceed, and inquired of my pilot whether he thought
there would be any risk in travelling all night? "Not the least," was
the reply; and we rowed on accordingly till morning; when lo! the only
objects to be seen were sea and sky. In vain we strained the organs
of vision to discover land; there we were, as if in the midst of the
ocean, surrounded on all sides by the unbroken circle of the horizon.
I do not know that I ever felt more seriously alarmed than at this
moment, thus to find myself exposed on an unknown sea, as it might
well be termed, in an open boat, and at such an advanced period of
the season, without any means of ascertaining what course to steer for
land. It would appear our steersman had been napping at the helm in
the course of the night, and thus allowed the boat to deviate from her
course without noticing it; hence the awkwardness and even the danger
of our present situation.

While considering with myself what was best to be done, a fine breeze
sprang up; I ordered the sail to be hoisted immediately, determined on
going before it until we made land, no matter where. Fortunately the
wind continued steady all day, and we at length reached the land a
little after sunset, having run at least forty miles. We put ashore
at the first convenient landing we could find, and encamped for the
night. Having consulted a map I had with me, and observing by the sun
the direction in which we had crossed the lake, (for we had actually
crossed it at its greatest width,) I could make out pretty clearly
that we had turned our backs to our true course! We had, however, a
good supply of provisions, and a voyageur is never discouraged while
he has the provender before him. Having now learned, to my cost, what
confidence my pilot was entitled to, I determined on keeping land in
view for the future.

We embarked early next morning, and, after a tedious and laborious
passage of seven days, arrived at Big Island fishery at the outlet of
the Lake on the 8th of October, where I found a boat ready to start
with a cargo of fish, in which I embarked; and landing finally at Fort
Simpson on the 16th, my long trip of five months _per mare et terram_,
was brought to a close; and high time it should, for the weather was
become excessively cold, and the ice was forming along the beach.

I was much grieved to find Mr. Lewis confined to bed in consequence of
a shocking accident he had lately met with, his right hand being blown
off by the accidental discharge of his fowling-piece.

Having perused the governor's official letter to Mr. Lewis, I found
the following paragraph in it relating to myself:--"On retiring from
the district next season, you will be pleased to invest Mr. McLean
with the management, handing to that gentleman all correspondence,
papers, &c., connected with the public business." This paragraph,
taken in conjunction with the instructions I had previously received,
confirmed both Mr. L. and myself in the opinion that I was to succeed
him in the charge; and we took our measures accordingly.

I was very agreeably surprised to find that the high latitude of this
locality (61° north) did not prevent agricultural operations from
being carried on with success. Although the season had been rather
unfavourable, the farm yielded four hundred bushels of potatoes,
and upwards of one hundred bushels of barley; the barnyard, with its
stacks of barley and hay, and the number of horned cattle around it,
had quite the air of a farm standing in the "old country." It is to be
regretted that the gentlemen here should have paid so little attention
to the cultivation of the soil in former times, as the produce
would, ere now, not only have contributed to the support of the
establishment, but have afforded assistance to the natives in years of

For these three years past the distress of the natives in this
quarter has been without parallel; several hundreds having perished of
want--in some instances, even at the gates of the trading post, whose
inmates, far from having it in their power to relieve others, required
relief themselves. Here, as in most other parts of the wooded country,
rabbits form the principal subsistence of the natives, and when they
fail, starvation is the sure and inevitable result; but no former
period has been so productive of distress, to so fearful an extent, as
the present. With the produce of the farm, Mr. L. was enabled to save
the lives of all those who resorted to his own post; but at Forts Good
Hope, Norman, and De Liard, no assistance could be given; as those
posts, like most others in the Indian country, depend entirely on
the means the country affords in fish, flesh, and fowl, for their



A volume of the Edinburgh Cabinet Library, in which the Company's
territories are described, came lately into my hands. It is there
remarked, that "the Company's posts serve as hospitals, to which
the Indians resort during sickness, and are supplied with food and
medicine; that when winter arrives, the diseased and infirm are
frequently left there; that the Company have made the most laudable
efforts to instruct and civilize them, employing, at a great expense,
Missionaries and Teachers," &c.

I am well aware that the author of this valuable production took it
for granted that the information he had obtained, relative to our
treatment of the Indians, and other matters, was correct, or he would
not have permitted it to go forth to the world under the authority
and sanction of his name. But without intending any disrespect to the
author, I take leave to state that the above quotations have not the
slightest foundation in fact. Our posts serve as hospitals! I have now
passed twenty-four years of my life-time in the country; I have served
in every quarter of it; and I own that I have never yet known a single
instance of an Indian being retained at any inland post for medical
treatment. The knowledge the natives possess of the medicinal virtues
of roots and herbs, is generally equal to the cure of all their
ailments; and we are, in fact, more frequently indebted to them, than
they to us, for medical advice. I may mention, however, by way of
exception to the general rule, that the dépôts along the coast are
well supplied with medicines, and that there are medical men there who
administer them to the natives when they apply for them.

In the interior we are allowed to doctor ourselves as we best can.
What with the salubrity of the climate, and our abstemious fare, we
are enabled, with the aid of a little Turlington balsam, and a dose
of salts, perhaps, to overcome all our ailments. Most of us also use
the lancet, and can even "spread a plaster, or give a glister," when
necessary; but the Indians seldom trouble us.

As to the instruction the natives receive from us, I am at a loss to
know what it is, where imparted, and by whom given. "A tale I could,
unfold!" But let it pass: certain it is, that neither our example nor
our precept has had the effect of improving the morals or principles
of the natives;--they are neither more enlightened, nor more
civilized, by our endeavours, than if we had never appeared among
them. The native interpreters even grow old in our service as ignorant
of Christianity as the rudest savages who have never seen the face of
a white man.

The Church Missionary Society has had two Missionaries stationed at
Red River settlement for some years past, one of whom is designated
the Company's Chaplain, and is allowed 100l. per annum; the Roman
Catholic bishop, too, receives his 100l., and doubtless understands,
without any inspiration, the Company's policy in granting the annuity.
The gentleman who conducts the academy has also 100l. a-year; thus we
have 300l., forming the sum total of the "great expenses" the Company
are at. It is quite true there are thirteen schools at Red River;
there are also eighteen windmills, and the Company furnishes just as
much wind for the mills as funds for the support of the schools or
teachers. Other teachers than those above specified I have neither
seen nor heard of.

Some years ago five Missionaries were sent out to the Hudson's Bay
territory by the Wesleyan Missionary Society. After having laboured
for some time in the territory, by a decision of the Council the rank
of commissioned gentleman, together with the usual allowances attached
to that rank, was conferred on them.

The Missionaries had every reason to be grateful for these acts of
kindness, and they both felt and expressed their gratitude. Their
object, however, in coming to the country was to serve God, not the
Hudson's Bay Company; and they proceeded to discharge their duty in
the manner their conscience approved, instructing and enlightening
the natives with the zeal and perseverance for which their sect is
so eminently distinguished. The good fruits were soon apparent; in
some parts of the country successful attempts were made to collect
the natives: they were taught to cultivate the soil, to husband
their produce, so as to render them less dependent on fortuitous
circumstances for a living; they were taught to read and write, and to
worship God "in spirit and in truth," and numbers "were daily added
to the Church;" when, lo! it was discovered that the time devoted
to religious exercises, and other duties arising out of the altered
circumstances of the converts, was so much time lost to the fur-hunt;
and from the moment this discovery was made, no further encouragement
was given to the innovators. Their labours were strictly confined to
the stations they originally occupied, and every obstacle was thrown
in the way of extending their missions. Even after some of them
had travelled into the remotest parts, and opened up an amicable
intercourse with the natives, they were told that collecting the
Indians into villages was a measure not to be thought of, as the
habitual indolence of the natives precluded the idea of their being
induced to cultivate the soil; that even if they were so inclined, the
country presented few localities fit for the purpose, &c.

Notwithstanding the high authority whence these allegations emanated,
I think I can show the reader that they are in a great measure without

Here (in lat. 61° north)[2] we raise crops of barley and potatoes--the
former in abundance every year,--the latter, however, are sometimes
cut off by the frosts; but this is no more than happens in Canada,
and many parts of the United States. The fact is, that there are many
favourable situations for agriculture to be found in every district of
the Company's territories, except perhaps one or two on the shores of
Hudson's Bay. The banks of the Athabasca, Peace, Slave, and McKenzie
rivers present many localities fit for farming operations; and in the
more southern districts they are, of course, far more frequent.

[Footnote 2: On the banks of the McKenzie River.]

Had the Protestant ministers been allowed a free scope, and the
encouragement they at first received been continued, they would ere
now have had Missions established in many districts; and there can
hardly be a doubt that they would have succeeded here, as elsewhere,
in overcoming the natural sloth of the natives. Their good intentions,
however, have been frustrated, and they have now the additional
mortification of finding themselves supplanted by Romish priests, who,
no later than last year, were allowed a free passage in the Company's
craft, even to a district where a Protestant Missionary had been
settled for several years previously, and had made considerable
progress in converting the natives. Not only was he allowed a passage
to the district, but he was lodged and entertained in the Company's

The consequences of this strange procedure are obvious: the poor
ignorant natives, hearing such conflicting doctrines, are at a loss
what to think or what to believe; and, naturally enough, conclude that
both are alike impostors, and therefore in many cases decline their
instructions. It must be acknowledged, however, that the Romish priest
is often more successful than the Protestant missionary, and that
for obvious reasons. With the former, the Indian needs only profess
a desire to become a Christian, and he is forthwith baptized; whereas
with the latter, a probationary course--a trial of the proselyte's
sincerity--is deemed indispensable. The peculiar dress, moreover,
of the Romish ministers, and their imposing ritual, make a great
impression on the senses of a barbarous people.

"_He_ indeed," say the Indians, when speaking of the priest, "he
indeed looks like a great 'man of medicine;' but these others are just
like our traders; we can see no difference."

The fact, too, need not be disguised, that we ourselves find the
priests far more accommodating than these meddling parsons. The
priests, for instance, allow us to amuse ourselves in any manner we
think fit, week-day or Sunday; and far from finding fault, ten to
one if they don't join in the sport; the Protestant minister, on
the contrary, never allows a violation of the sacred day to pass
unnoticed, nor fails to warn the delinquent of the consequences.
The priest connives at the Indian's hunting on Sunday--the minister
strictly forbids it: the priests are single--the ministers are
generally married, and their maintenance of course involves a far
heavier expense. Considering these things, no reasonable person can
surely find fault with us for preferring those who allow us to put
what construction we please on the moral law, and at the same time
oppose no obstacles to the advancement of our temporal interests.

And here I cannot but express my regret that our Protestant churches
should have so long neglected the cultivation of a field that promised
such rich harvests as the interior of America. The superstitions
of the aborigines scattered through the Hudson's Bay Company's
territories are so gross, and so inconsistent with unsophisticated
common sense; and their prejudices in favour of them have been so much
shaken by their intercourse with the gentlemen of the trading posts
and the other Europeans, whom they are accustomed to look up to as
beings of a superior race, that there could be but little difficulty
in removing what _remains_ of these prejudices; and thus one of the
greatest obstacles to the success of a Missionary in other parts of
the heathen world, can scarcely be said to exist among them.

The Church of England, it is true, has done a little, but she might
have done more--much more. Had the Missionaries at Red River exerted
themselves, from the time of their first arrival in the country, in
educating _natives_ as Missionaries, and sent them forth to preach
the Word, the pure doctrines of Christianity would, ere now, have been
widely disseminated through the land. But nothing of this kind has
been attempted: nor could it be attempted--now that I think of it--the
laying on of "the hands of a Bishop" being indispensable.

As to the diseased and infirm being frequently left at our posts in
winter, all I can say is, that I have never seen any such at any
of the posts I wintered at, or at any of the posts I visited; nor
is it likely that, when we ourselves depend on the natives for a
considerable part of our subsistence, we can do much to support them.
We support neither old nor young, diseased nor infirm--that is the

In the work above quoted I find the following paragraph relating to
the North-West Company.

"Although the rivalry of the North-West Company had the effect of
inspiriting and extending the trade; it was carried by them in many
respects beyond the legitimate limits, not scrupling at open violence
and bloodshed, in which Europeans and natives were alike sufferers."

The controversy between those rival companies has long since been
forgotten; but the subject being again obtruded on the public notice,
evidently in the spirit of prejudice, there can be nothing improper, I
presume, in representing matters in their true and proper light. Many
of the individuals thus calumniated are still alive and settled in the
civilized world, where they are esteemed for qualities diametrically
opposite to those ascribed to them by their slanderer.

It is well known that the chief advantages the Hudson's Bay Company
now possess, they owe to the adventurous North-West traders; by these
traders the whole interior of the savage wilds was first explored; by
them the water communications were first discovered and opened up
to commercial enterprise; by them the first trading posts were
established in the interior; by them the natives were first reconciled
to the whites; and by them the trade was first reduced to the regular
system which the Hudson's Bay Company still follows. When all this
had been done by the North-West Company, and they had begun to
reap the reward of their toils, and hardships, and dangers, and
expenditure--then did the Honourable Hudson's Bay Company, led on by
a British peer, step forward and claim, as British subjects, an equal
right to share the trade.

Their _noble_ leader appeared first in Montreal in the guise of a
traveller, where he was received by the North-Westers with open arms,
was kindly and hospitably entertained by them, his minutest inquiries
regarding their system of trade were candidly and freely answered;
and the information thus obtained in the character of a traveller,
a guest, and a friend, he forthwith proceeded to use to effect
their ruin. Had, however, the North-West Company continued true to
themselves, all his arts and attempts would have failed. Had not
dissension arisen in the ranks, it is clear that _they_--not
the Hudson's Bay Company--would have granted the capitulation.
Unfortunately for themselves, however, the partners in the interior,
seeing the contest continue so long, and the expenses swallow up all
the profits, despaired of the success that was almost within their
grasp, and commencing a correspondence among themselves, finally
determined on opening a negotiation with their rivals. Two of their
number were accordingly sent home, invested with full powers to
act for the general interest. Those gentlemen arrived just as the
Directors of the North-West Company in London were about to conclude
a most advantageous treaty--a few days more, and the articles had been
ratified by the signatures of both parties. At this conjuncture the
Delegates arrived, and instead of first communicating with their own
Directors, went straight to the Hudson's Bay House, and presented
their credentials. The Hudson's Bay Company saw their advantage, and
instead of receiving, now dictated the terms; and thus the name of the
North-West Company was merged in that of its rival, and the Canadian
people were deprived of all interest in that trade which owed its
origin to the courage and enterprise of their forefathers.

Such were the relative circumstances of the Hudson's Bay and
North-West Companies. From 1674 to 1813 the Hudson's Bay Company
slumbered at its posts along the shores of Hudson's Bay, never
attempting to penetrate beyond the banks of the Saskatchewan, until
the North-Westers had led and cleared the way; and in this manner
began their rivalry. That collisions should follow, marked by violence
and outrage, need not be wondered at. But violence and outrage were
not confined to one side; both parties exceeded the limits prescribed
by law. Yet while stern justice alike condemns both, which is the more
guilty party? or which has the greater claims on our sympathy?

As to the North-West Company being guilty of the blood of innocent
Indians,--the charge is as false as it is invidious. When the blood
of their servants was shed without cause or provocation, as frequently
happened when they first encountered the fierce savage, they punished
the aggressors as the law of God allows, demanding "blood for blood."
But while the author (or rather his informant, whose _ribbon_ I
can plainly distinguish, although he strikes in the dark) so freely
censures the North-West Company for avenging the murder of their
people, does he mean to insinuate that nothing of the kind is done
under the _humane_ and _gentle_ rule of the Hudson's Bay Company?
What became of the Hannah Bay murderers? They were conveyed to Moose
Factory, bound hand and foot, and there shot down by the orders of
the Chief Factor. Did the murders committed by the natives at New
Caledonia, Thompson's River, and the Columbia, pass unavenged? No! the
penalty was fully paid in blood for blood.

But since the author's informant seems disposed to "rake up the
smouldering embers" of days bygone, I shall take the liberty of
telling him of a tragedy that was enacted at the ancient date of
1836-7. In that winter, a party of men, led by two clerks, was sent
to look for some horses that were grazing at a considerable distance
from the post. As they approached the spot they perceived a band of
Assineboine Indians, eight in number (if I remember aright), on an
adjacent hill, who immediately joined them, and, delivering up their
arms, encamped with them for the night. Next morning a _court martial_
was held by the two clerks and some of the men, to determine the
punishment due to the Indians for having been found near the company's
horses, with the _supposed_ intention of carrying them off. What was
the decision of this mock court martial? I shudder to relate, that the
whole band, after having given up their arms, and partaken of their
hospitality, were condemned to death, and the sentence carried into
execution on the spot,--all were butchered in cold blood!

With the exception of the massacre of the Indians in McKenzie's River
district in 1835, no such deed of blood had been heard of in the
country. Yet our author's _impartial_ informant, perfectly acquainted
as he was with all the circumstances of the case, and ready enough
as he is to trumpet to the world the alleged crimes of the North-West
Company, takes no notice of it! It may be said that the Company are
not answerable for crimes committed by their servants without their
knowledge. True; but when they are made fully acquainted with those
misdeeds, and allow the perpetrators to escape with impunity, the
guilt is transferred to their own head; "invitat culpam qui peccatum
præterit." The proceedings of this court-martial were reported at
head-quarters, and the punishment awarded to these murderers was--a
reprimand! After this, what protection, or generosity, or justice, can
the Indians he said to receive from the Hudson's Bay Company?

The Indians to this day talk of their Northwest "fathers" with regret.
"Our old traders, our fathers, did not serve us so," is a remark
I have frequently heard in every part of the country where the
North-West Company had established posts. Had their rule been
distinguished by oppression or injustice, the natives would rather
have expressed their satisfaction at its suppression; had it been
tyrannical or oppressive, it would not have been long tolerated. The
natives in those times were numerous and warlike; the trading-posts
were isolated and far apart; and in the summer season, when the
managers proceeded to the dépôts, with the greater part of their
people, were entirely at the mercy of the natives, who would not have
failed to take advantage of such opportunities to avenge their wrongs,
had they suffered any. The posts, in fact, were left entirely to their
protection, and depended on them for support during the absence of the
traders, who, on their return in autumn, found themselves surrounded
by hundreds of rejoicing Indians, greeting their "fathers" with every
manifestation of delight;--he who had not a gun to fire strained his
lungs with shouting.

The native population has decreased at an extraordinary rate since
those times. I do not mean to affirm that this decrease arises from
the Hudson's Bay Company's treatment of them; but, from whatever cause
arising, it is quite certain they have greatly decreased. Neither can
it be denied, that the natives are no longer the manly, independent
race they formerly were. On the contrary, we now find them gloomy and
dispirited, unhappy and discontented.

As to our vaunted "generosity" to the natives, I am at a loss to know
in what it consists. When a band of Indians arrive at a trading post,
each individual is presented with a few inches of tobacco; here (at
Fort Simpson) in winter we add a fish to each. After their furs are
traded, a few flints, awls, and hooks, and a trifle of ammunition is
given them, in proportion to their hunts, and then--"Va-t-en." This is
about the average amount of "generosity" they receive throughout the
country; varied, however, by the differences of disposition observable
in the Hudson's Bay Company's traders, as among all other mortals.
Some of us would even withhold the awls and hooks, if we could;
others, at the risk of being "hauled up" for extravagance, would add
another hook to the number.

Were the Company's standing rules and regulations acted upon, we might
perhaps have some title to the generosity we boast of. In these rules
we are directed to supply _poor_ Indians with ammunition and fishing
tackle, gratis. This looks very well on paper; but are we allowed the
means of bestowing these gratuities? Certainly not.[3] Our outfits,
in many cases, are barely sufficient to meet the exigencies of the
trade; they are continually reduced in proportion to the decrease in
the returns; and the strictest economy is not only recommended, but
enforced. On the due fulfilment of these commands our prospects in
the service depend; and few indeed will think of violating them, or of
sacrificing their own interests to benefit Indians. I repeat that, far
from having it in our power to bestow anything gratuitously, we are
happy when allowed sufficient means to barter for the furs the Indians
bring us.

[Footnote 3: When the Israelites were ordered to provide straw for
their bricks, the material _could_ be procured in Egypt, although at
the expense of great additional toil;--not so the supplies for the
Indian trade; in the event of a deficiency, neither money nor labour
can procure them.]

The Company also make it appear by their standing rules, that we are
directed to instruct the children, to teach the servants, &c.; but
where are the means of doing so? A few books, I have been told, were
sent out for this purpose, after the coalition; what became of them
I know not. I never saw any. The history of commercial rule is well
known to the world; the object of that rule, wherever established, or
by whomsoever exercised, is gain. In our intercourse with the natives
of America no other object is discernible, no other object is thought
of, no other object is allowed.



In the early part of this winter several Indians came in, complaining
that they were starving for want of food; and their emaciated forms
proved that they did not complain without cause. Our means, however,
were too limited to afford them any effectual relief. We were glad to
learn afterwards, that although many suffered, none died from actual
want; and the rabbits soon afterwards appearing in greater numbers
than had been seen for years past, relief was obtained.

Towards the latter end of March, I was gratified by the arrival of Mr.
Lefroy. This gentleman seems equal to all the hardships and privations
of a voyageur's life, having performed the journey from Athabasca
hither, a distance of at least six hundred miles, on snow-shoes,
without appearing to have suffered any inconvenience from it; thus
proving himself the ablest _mangeur de lard_ we have had in the
country for a number of years: there are many of our old winterers
who would have been glad to excuse themselves if required to undertake
such a journey.

The winter passed without any remarkable occurrence; and on the
breaking up of the river, I set off for the lower posts, on the 23d
of May, accompanied by Mr. Lefroy, whose zeal for scientific discovery
neither cold, nor hunger, nor fatigue, seems to depress. We arrived
at Fort Norman on the 27th of May; and after a few hours' delay,
embarked, proceeding down stream, night and day.

We reached Fort Good Hope on the 29th, late in the evening; but
evening, morning, midnight, and noon-day, are much the same here: I
wrote at midnight by the clear light of heaven. The scientific reader
need not be informed, that within the arctic circle the sun is but a
very short time beneath the horizon, during the summer solstice. The
people of Fort Good Hope see him rising and setting behind the same
hill; and in clear weather his rays shed a light above the horizon
even after he is set; while during the winter solstice the same hill
nearly conceals him from view. Yet the gentleman in charge of this
post has passed two years without an inch of candle to light himself
to bed; and his predecessor did the same; so that he has no reason to

On our way down we observed a land-slip, or avalanche of earth, that
had just tumbled into the river. Mr. Lefroy examined the bank whence
it had been detached, and found, by measurement, that the frozen
ground was forty-six feet in depth!

Our short sojourn at Fort Good Hope was rendered very unpleasant by
the dismal weather; it continued snowing the whole time we remained.
The storm abating, we embarked at an early hour, on the 31st of May,
and had not proceeded above a few leagues, when a fair breeze sprang
up, greatly to the satisfaction of all, but especially of the poor
fellows whose toil it relieved. It continued increasing; reef after
reef was taken in, till our sheet was finally reduced to a few feet
in depth; yet so furious was the gale that we ascended the strongest
current with nearly the same velocity we had descended; while the
snow fell so thick, and the spray from the river was driven about
so violently by the wind, that we could scarce see our way, and only
escaped being dashed against the beach by keeping in the centre of the
stream. It was also extremely cold; so that our situation in an open
boat was not the most enviable.

We arrived at Fort Norman on the 2d of June, about five, A.M.,
and remained until eleven, A.M., when we embarked, the gale still
continuing with unabated violence. Immediately after leaving the Fort
the gale carried away our mast; fortunate it was for us that it gave
way, else the boat must have capsized. We soon got another mast from
the Fort, and sped on our way night and day, if it can be said there
is any night here, when the light is so powerful as to throw the stars
into the shade. Without experiencing much change in wind or weather,
we arrived at Fort Simpson on the 8th of June; having thus performed
a voyage of about 1,400 miles (going and coming) in eleven days,
including stoppages. I found Mr. Lewis so far recovered from the
effects of his wound as to be able to take the same active part in the
management of affairs as formerly.

The returns from the different posts being now received, we found them
to amount to upwards of 15,000l. in value, according to the tariff
of last year. Everything being ready for our departure, we left
Fort Simpson on the 15th of June, Mr. Lefroy embarking with us.
We proceeded to Great Slave Lake without interruption, the weather
extremely fine. Within a day's rowing of Fort Resolution we
encountered a field of ice that arrested our progress, till a change
of wind carried it out to sea.

The moment a passage opened we observed a large canoe making for our
encampment. It proved to be Mr. Lefroy's, which he had left with the
most of his people at Athabasca. Mr. Lefroy embarked in his own
craft, and we proceeded to Fort Resolution in company; and as he had
determined on following a different route to Athabasca, we parted
here, most probably never to meet again in this life. Few gentlemen
ever visited this country who acquired so general esteem as Mr.
Lefroy; his gentlemanly bearing and affable manners endeared him to
us all. We arrived at Athabasca on the 5th of July, and at Portage La
Loche on the 25th, where we found an increased number of half-breeds
waiting our arrival.

The brigade from York Factory arrived with the outfit on the 2d of
August, and we exchanged cargoes with the utmost expedition, they
receiving the returns of the district, and we the outfit brought
by them. By this conveyance I received letters from the Governor,
acquainting me "that another gentleman was appointed to the charge
of McKenzie's River District, and that he (the Governor) could
not conceive on what grounds I fancied myself to be the person so
appointed, as he was certain I could not have arrived at such a
conclusion from perusing the instructions I had received from him last
year!" Until now I thought I understood the English language as well
as most people; but the Governor makes it appear plainly enough that I
ought still to confine myself to the old Celtic.

The instructions above referred to being given in the foregoing pages,
I shall leave the reader to form his own opinion of one who, in
the high and honourable position of a Governor, could treat so
ungenerously one whom he admitted to be a faithful and meritorious
servant, and whom he had acknowledged to be deserving of preferment:
and that not on the present only, but on several former occasions.

This last insult I consider the climax to the wrongs I have so long
suffered. First I am appointed in the usual terms to the charge of a
district. I am allowed to continue in that opinion for a twelvemonth;
I enter into correspondence with the gentlemen of the district as
their future superintendent, and make my arrangements with them as
such; and, _au bout du compte_, am ordered back to the same district
to mix with the crowd, and submit to another master. I leave it to
the reader to judge whether such a Governor could possibly have the
interests of the Company at heart; even supposing for a moment there
were no _injustice_ in the case; I leave it to him to consider what
effect a conduct and measures so vacillating, unsteady and arbitrary,
are likely to have on the service and interests of the Company.

This last act of the Governor made me completely disgusted with a
service where such acts could be tolerated. In no colony subject to
the British Crown is there to be found an authority so despotic as is
at this day exercised in the mercantile Colony of Rupert's Land; an
authority combining the despotism of military rule with the strict
surveillance and mean parsimony of the avaricious trader. From
Labrador to Nootka Sound the unchecked, uncontrolled will of a single
individual gives law to the land. As to the nominal Council which is
yearly convoked for form's sake, the few individuals who compose it
know better than to offer advice where none would be accepted; they
know full well that the Governor has already determined on his own
measures before one of them appears in his presence. Their assent is
all that is expected of them, and that they never hesitate to give.
Many years pass without such a thing as a legally constituted Council
being held. A legal Council ought to consist of seven members besides
the Governor; three chief factors and four chief traders. The Council,
however, seldom consists of more than five members and the Governor.

Some years ago, I happened to be at an establishment where a "Council"
was about to be held. On inquiring of his Excellency's Secretary what
subject of moment he thought would first engage their attention--

"Engage their attention!" he replied; "bless your heart, man! the
minutes of Council were all drawn out before we arrived here; I have
them in my pocket."

Clothed with a power so unlimited, it is not to be wondered at that a
man who rose from a humble situation should in the end forget what
he was and play the tyrant. Let others, if they will, submit to be so
ruled with a rod of iron. I at least shall not.

In reply to his favour, I addressed the following letter to his
Excellency, a transcript of which I transmitted to the Committee.

"Portage La Loche, "_August_ 3, 1844.

"To SIR GEORGE SIMPSON, Governor of Rupert's Land:--

"SIR--I have the honour to acknowledge your several favours from
Lachine and Red River, and am mortified to learn by them you should
think me so stupid as not to understand your letters on the subject of
my appointment to the charge of the district; your language being so
clear, in fact, as to admit of no other construction than the one I
put upon it. By referring to the minutes of Council for 1843, I find
myself appointed to Fort Good Hope for that year; but you wrote me
subsequently to the breaking up of the Council, and used these words:
'That is now the finest field we have for the extension of trade,
and I count much on your activity for promoting our views in that
quarter. But while directing your attention to the extension of _your
district_, you must also use your best endeavours to curtail the

"Your letter to Mr. C.F. Lewis states, in nearly these words, that I
'am appointed to succeed him;' and you beg of him 'to deliver into my
hands all the documents that refer to the affairs of the district.'
Mr. Lewis understood your letters in the same sense as myself, and
so did every other person who perused them. What your object may
have been in altering this arrangement afterwards, is best known
to yourself; and whether such conduct can be reconciled with the
principles of honour and integrity which you so strongly recommend in
others, and which are so necessary to the well-being of society, is
a question which I shall leave for the present to your own decision;
while I cannot avoid remarking, that the treatment I have experienced
from you on this and on many other occasions, is as unworthy of
yourself and as unworthy of the high station you fill, as I am
undeserving of it.

"When in 1837, I was congratulated by every member of Council then
present at Norway House on the prospect of my immediate promotion,
(having all voted for me,) your authority was interposed, and I was,
as a matter of course, rejected. You were then candid enough to tell
me that I should not have your interest until the two candidates you
then had in view were provided for, and that it would then be my turn.
With this assurance from you I cheerfully prepared for my _exile_ to
_Ungava_. _My turn_ only came, however, after _seven_ other promotions
had been made, and I found myself the last on the list of three
gentlemen who were promoted at the same time.

"You are pleased to jest with the hardships I experienced while
battling the watch with opposition in the Montreal department, and
the privations I afterwards endured in New Caledonia. Surely, Sir, you
ought to have considered it sufficient to have made me your dupe, and
not add insult to oppression. While in the Montreal department I have
your handwriting to show your approval of my 'meritorious conduct,'
the course I was pursuing being 'the direct road to preferment;' and
your intention, even then, 'to recommend me to the favourable notice
of the Governor and Committee;'--promises in which I placed implicit
confidence at the time, being as yet a stranger to the ways of the
world.--The result of these promises, however, was that the moment
opposition had ceased, I was ordered to resign my situation to
another, and march to enjoy the 'delectable scenery' of New Caledonia;
from thence you sent me to Ungava, where you say you are not aware I
experienced any particular hardship or privation.

"You are aware of the circumstances in which I found myself when I
arrived there: that consideration was not allowed to interpose between
me and my duty, however; and I accordingly traversed that desolate
country in the depth of winter,--a journey that nearly cost myself
and my companions our lives. I then continued to explore the country
during the entire period of my command, and finally succeeded in
discovering a practicable communication with Esquimaux Bay, and in
determining the question so long involved in uncertainty as to the
riches the interior possessed, and by so doing saved an enormous
expense to the concern. The Hon. Committee are aware of my exertions
in that quarter, themselves, as I had the honour of being in direct
communication with them while there.

  "I have the honour, &c.
  (Signed)     "JOHN MCLEAN."



Mr. Lewis embarked for York Factory on the 4th of August. I set out on
my return on the 6th, and arrived at Fort Simpson on the 22d. Having
prepared and sent off the outfit for the different posts with all
possible expedition, I found myself afterwards at leisure to note down
whatever I thought worthy of being recorded with reference to this
section of the country.

There are seven posts in this district; three on the River Liard and
its tributaries; three on the banks of McKenzie's River, and one
on Peel's River. About two degrees to the north of Good Hope, Fort
Simpson, the dépôt of the district, is situated at the confluence of
the Liard and McKenzie, in lat. 61° north. Heat and cold are here
felt in the extremes; the thermometer frequently falls to 50° minus in
winter, and rises sometimes to 100° in the shade in summer. The River
Liard has its source in the south among the Rocky Mountains: its
current is remarkably strong; and in the early part of summer, when
swollen by the melting of the snow, it rushes down in a foaming
torrent, and pours into the McKenzie, still covered with solid ice,
when a scene ensues terrific and grand:--the ice, resisting for some
time the force of the flood, ultimately gives way with the noise of
thunder, and clashing, roaring and tumbling, it rolls furiously along
until it accumulates to such an extent as to dam the river across.
This again presents, for a time, a solid barrier to the flood, which
is stopped in its course; it then rises sometimes to the height of
thirty and forty feet, overflowing the adjacent country for miles,
and levelling the largest trees with the ground. The effects of this
frightful conflict are visible in all the lower grounds along the
river. The trading posts are situated on the higher grounds, yet they
are not secure from danger. Fort Good Hope was swept clean away some
years ago, and its inmates only saved themselves by getting into a
boat that happened fortunately to be at hand. The McKenzie opens about
the end of May, and is ice-bound in November.

The tribes who inhabit the banks of the McKenzie, and the interior
parts of the district, are members of the powerful and numerous
Chippewayan family, and are known by the names of Slaves, Dogribs,
Rabbitskins, and Gens des Montagnes. The Loucheux, or Squint-Eyes,
frequent the post on Peel's River, and speak a different language;
their hunting-grounds are within the Russian boundary, and are
supposed to be rich in fur-bearing animals. The Loucheux have no
affinity with the Chippewayan tribes, nor with their neighbours, the
Esquimaux, with whom, however, they maintain constant intercourse,
though not always of the most friendly kind, violent quarrels
frequently occurring between them. The various dialects spoken by
the other tribes are intelligible to all; in manners, customs, and
personal appearance, there is also the closest similarity.

In one point, however, these tribes differ, not only from the parent
tribe, but from all the other tribes of America;--they treat their
women with the utmost kindness, the men performing all the drudgery
that usually falls to the women. Here the men are the hewers of
wood and drawers of water; they even clear away the snow for the
encampment; and, in short, perform every laborious service. This is
indeed passing strange;--the Chippewayans, and all other Indians,
treat their women with harshness and cruelty; while the women on the
banks of the McKenzie--Scotticé--"wear the breeks!" The Rabbitskins
and Slaves are in truth a mild, harmless, and even a timid race; could
it be this softness of disposition that induced the weaker sex first
to dispute, and finally to assume the supremacy?--or what cause can be
assigned for a trait so peculiar in this remotely situated portion of
the Indian race?

These tribes clothe themselves with the skins of rabbits, and feed on
their flesh; when the rabbits fail, they are reduced to the greatest
distress both for food and raiment. I saw a child that remained naked
for several days after its birth, its parents having devoured every
inch of their miserable dress that could be spared from their bodies:
it was at last swaddled in crow's skins!

These two tribes generally live near the banks of the great rivers,
and seem disposed to pass their pilgrimage on earth with as little
toil, and as little regard to comfort, as any people in being. They
pass summer and winter in the open air; they huddle together in an
encampment, without any other shelter from the inclemency of the
weather than what is afforded by the spreading branches of some
friendly pine, and use no more fire than what is barely sufficient to
keep them from freezing. Their wants are few, and easily provided
for; when they have killed a few deer to afford them sinews for making
rabbit-snares, they may be said to be independent for the remainder of
the season. Their work consists in setting those snares, carrying home
the game caught in them, eating them when cooked, and then lying down
to sleep. A taste, however, for articles of European manufacture is
gaining ground among them, and to obtain those articles a more active
life is necessary, so that some tolerable fur-hunters are now to be
found among them.

The Dogribs occupy the barren grounds that are around Great Bear Lake,
and extend to the Copper-mine River. That part of the country abounds
in rein-deer, whose skin and flesh afford food and raiment to the
natives. They are a strong, athletic, well-formed race of Indians, and
are considered more warlike than their neighbours, who evidently dread

None of the Indians who frequent the posts on McKenzie's River have
hereditary chiefs; the dignity is conferred by the gentlemen in charge
of posts on the best hunters. On these occasions a suit of clothes
is bestowed, the most valued article of which is a coat of coarse red
cloth, decorated with lace; and, as the reward of extraordinary merit,
a felt hat is added, ornamented in the same manner, with a feather
stuck in the side of it. Thus equipped, the new-made chief sallies
forth to receive the gratulations of his admiring friends and
relatives, among whom the coat is ultimately divided, and probably
finishes its course in the shape of a tobacco-pouch. In course of
time, the individuals thus distinguished obtain some weight in the
councils of their people, but their influence is very limited; the
whole of the Chippewayan tribes seem averse to superior rule.

Like the Esquimaux and Carriers, they seem to have had no idea of
religion prior to the settlement of Europeans among them; all the
terms they at present use in reference to the subject seem of recent
origin, and invented by the interpreters. They name the Deity, "Ya
ga ta-that-hee-hee,"--"The Man who reclines on the sky;" angels are
called "the birds of the Deity,"--"ya gat he-be e Yadzé;" the devil,
"Ha is linee," or, "the sorcerer."

The Slaves and Rabbitskins have also their magicians, whom alone they
fear and reverence. Polygamy is not common, yet there are instances of
one man having two _female masters_. In times of famine the cravings
of hunger often drive these poor Indians to desperation, when the
feelings of humanity and of nature seem utterly eradicated.

During the fearful distress of the two past years, a band of Slaves
came to Fort Simpson in a condition not to be described. Many of them
had perished by the way; but the history of one family is the most
shocking I ever heard. The husband first destroyed the wife, and
packed her up as provision for the journey. The supply proving
insufficient, one of the children was next sacrificed. The cannibal
was finally left by the party he accompanied with only one child
remaining--a boy of seven or eight years of age. Mr. Lewis immediately
despatched two men with some pemmican, to meet him; the aid came too
late,--they found the monster roasting a part of his last child at the
fire. Horrified at the sight, they uttered not a word, but threw the
provisions into the encampment, and retreated as fast as they could. A
few days afterwards this brute arrived strong and hearty, and appeared
as unconcerned as if all had gone on well with him and his family.
Cannibalism is more frequently known among the Slaves and Rabbitskins
than any other of the kindred tribes; and it is said that women are
generally the perpetrators of the crime; it is also said, that when
once they have tasted of this unhallowed food they prefer it to every

All the Chippewayan tribes dispose of their dead by placing them in
tombs made of wood, and sufficiently strong to resist the attacks of
wild beasts. The body is laid in the tomb at full length, without any
particular direction being observed as to the head or feet. Neither
they, nor any other Indians I am acquainted with, place their dead in
a sitting posture.

It is affirmed by some writers that the Indians have a tradition among
them of the migration of their progenitors from east to west. I
have had every opportunity of investigating the question, and able
interpreters wherever I wintered; but I never could learn that any
such tradition existed. Even in their tales and legends there is never
any reference to a distant land; when questioned in regard to this,
their invariable answer is, "Our fathers and our fathers' fathers have
hunted on these lands ever since the flood, and we never heard of any
other country till the whites came among us." These tribes have
the same tradition in regard to the flood, that I heard among the
Algonquins at the gates of Montreal, some trifling incidents excepted.

Unlike most other Indians, the Slaves have no fixed bounds to their
hunting-grounds, but roam at large, and kill whatever game comes in
their way, without fear of their neighbours. The hunter who first
finds a beaver-lodge claims it as his property, but his claim is not
always respected.

Besides the Indians enumerated in the preceding pages, a number of
stragglers, but little known to us, occasionally resort to the post.
A band of these--nine in number--made their appearance at Fort Norman
this summer; and, after trading their furs, set out for Fort Good
Hope, with the avowed intention of plundering the establishment, and
carrying off all the women they could find. On arriving at the post
they rushed in, their naked bodies blackened and painted after the
manner of warriors bent on shedding blood; each carrying a gun and
dirk in his hands.

The chief, on being presented with the usual gratuity--a piece of
tobacco, rudely refused it; and commenced a violent harangue against
the whites, charging them with the death of all the Indians who had
perished by hunger during the last three years; and finally challenged
M. Dechambault, the gentleman in charge of the post, to single
combat. M. Dechambault, _dicto citius_, instantly sprung upon him,
and twisting his arm into his long hair, laid him at his feet; and
pointing his dagger at his throat, dared him to utter another word.
So sudden and unexpected was this intrepid act, that the rest of the
party looked on in silent astonishment, without power to assist their
fallen chief, or revenge his disgrace. M. Dechambault was too generous
to strike a prostrate foe, even although a savage, but allowed the
crest-fallen chief to get on his legs again; and thus the affair

The Company owe the safety of the establishment to Mr. D.'s
intrepidity: had he hesitated to act at the decisive moment, the game
was up with him, for he had only two lads with him, on whose aid he
could place but little reliance. Mr. D. has been thirty years in the
Company's service, and is still a _clerk_; but he is himself to blame
for his want of promotion, having been so inconsiderate as to allow
himself to be born in Canada, a crime which admits of no expiation.

This district is at present by far the richest in furs of any in the
country; this is owing partly to the indolence of the natives, and
partly to the circumstance of the beaver in some localities being,
through the barrenness of the surrounding country, inaccessible to the
hunter. When the haunts of the animal become overcrowded, they send
forth colonies to other quarters.

At the first arrival of the Europeans, large animals, especially
moose and wood rein-deer, were abundant everywhere. In those times the
resources of the district were adequate to the supply of provisions
for every purpose; whereas, of late years, we have been under the
necessity of applying for assistance to other districts.

A new field has lately been laid open for the extension of the trade
of this district. An enterprising individual--Mr. R. Campbell--having
been for several years employed in exploring the interior, last summer
succeeded in finding his way to the west side of the Rocky Mountain
chain. The defile he followed led him to the banks of a very large
river, on which he embarked with his party of hardy pioneers; and
following its course for several days through a charming country,
rich in game of every description--elk, rein-deer, and beaver, he
eventually fell in with Indians, who received them kindly, although
they had never seen Europeans before. From them he learned that a
party of whites, Russians of course, had ascended the river in the
course of the summer, had quarrelled with the natives, and killed
several of them; and that the whites had returned forthwith to the
coast. These friendly Indians entreated Mr. C. to proceed no farther,
representing that he and his party were sure to fall victims to their
revenge. This, however, could not shake his resolution; he had set out
with the determination of proceeding to the sea at all hazards, and no
prospect of danger could turn him from it; till his party refused to
proceed farther on any conditions, when he was compelled to return.

The returns of this district have, for years past, averaged 12,000l.
per annum; the outfit, including supplies for officers and servants,
has not exceeded as many hundreds. The affairs of the different posts
are managed by seven or eight clerks and postmasters; and there are
about forty hired servants--Europeans, Canadians, and half-breeds;
Indians are hired for the trip to the portage. The living for some
years past has not been such as Gil Blas describes, as "fit to tickle
the palate of a bishop;" at Fort Simpson we had, for the most part
of the season, fish and potatoes for breakfast, potatoes and fish
for dinner, and cakes made of flour and grease for supper. The fish
procured in this quarter is of a very inferior quality.



On the 2d of October Mr. McPherson arrived from Canada, and I
forthwith demitted the charge. I was now appointed to Fort Liard, but
the season being far advanced, it had been found necessary to appoint
another previously, whose arrangements for the season being completed,
it was deemed expedient that I should pass the winter at Great Slave
Lake; and I embarked for that station accordingly on the 4th, and
arrived on the 16th.

This post formerly belonged to Athabasca, but is now transferred
to McKenzie's River district. The natives consist of Chippewayans,
properly so called, and Yellow Knives, a kindred tribe; the former
inhabit the wooded parts of the country, extending along the northern
and eastern shores of the lake; and the latter, the opposite side
extending towards the Arctic regions, where there is no wood to be
found; it abounds, however, in rein-deer and musk oxen. The Yellow
Knives were at one time a powerful and numerous tribe; but their
number has been greatly diminished by a certain disease that lately
prevailed among them, and proved peculiarly fatal. They also waged
a short but bloody war with the Dogribs, that cost many lives. They
muster at present between sixty and eighty men able to bear arms.

The Chippewayans in this quarter are a shrewd sensible people, and
evince an eager readiness to imitate the whites. Some years ago a
Methodist Missionary visited Athabasca; and although he remained but
a short time, his instructions seemed to have made a deep impression.
They observe the Sabbath with great strictness, never stirring from
their lodges to hunt, nor even to fetch home the game when killed,
on that day; and they carefully abstain from all the grosser vices
to which they formerly were addicted. What might not be expected of
a people so docile, if they possessed the advantages of regular

Having fortunately a supply of books with me, and other means of
amusement, I found the winter glide away without suffering much
from ennui; my health, however, proved very indifferent; and that
circumstance alone would have been sufficient to induce me to quit
this wretched country, even if my earlier prospects had been realized,
as they have not been. From the accompt current, I find my income
as chief trader for 1841 amounts to no more than 120l.: "Sic vos non
vobis mellificatis apes;" and since things are come to this pass,
it is high time I should endeavour to make honey for myself, in
some other sphere of life. I therefore transmitted my resignation to

I cannot close this chapter without mentioning a singular phenomenon
which the lake presents in the winter season. The ice is never less
than five feet in thickness, frequently from eight to nine; yet the
water under this enormous crust not only feels the changes in the
atmosphere, but anticipates them. An approaching change of wind or
weather is known twenty-four hours before it occurs. For instance,
while the weather is perfectly calm, if a storm be at hand, the lake
becomes violently agitated the day before; when calm weather is to
succeed, it is indicated in like manner by the previous stillness of
the lake, even when the gale is still raging in the air. In summer
there is no perceptible current in the lake; in winter, however, a
current always sets in the direction of the wind, and indicates a
change of wind by running in a different direction. These curious
points have been ascertained by the long observation of our fishermen,
who, in the beginning of winter, bore holes in the ice for the purpose
of setting their lines, and visit them every day, both in order to
keep them open, and to take up what fish may be caught.

In consequence of the frequent shifting of the current, they
experience no little difficulty in adjusting their lines, the current
being occasionally so strong as to raise them to an angle of forty
degrees. Thus, if the lines were too long, and the current not very
strong, they would drag on the bottom; if too short, and the current
strong, they would be driven up upon the ice. The approach of a storm
is indicated, not by any heaving of the ice, but by the strength of
the current, and the roaring of the waves under the ice, which is
distinctly heard at a considerable distance, and is occasionally
increased by the collision of detached masses of broken ice, which, in
the earlier part of the season, have been driven under the main crust.



The history of my career may serve as a warning to those who may be
disposed to enter the Hudson's Bay Company's service. They may learn
that, from the moment they embark in the Company's canoes at Lachine,
or in their ships at Gravesend, they bid adieu to all that civilized
man most values on earth. They bid adieu to their family and friends,
probably for ever; for if they should remain long enough to attain the
promotion that allows them the privilege of revisiting their native
land--a period of from twenty to twenty-five years--what changes does
not this life exhibit in a much shorter time? They bid adieu to all
the comforts and conveniences of civilized life, to vegetate at some
desolate, solitary post, hundreds of miles, perhaps, from any other
human habitation, save the wig-wam of the savage; without any other
society than that of their own thoughts, or of the two or three
humble individuals who share their exile. They bid adieu to all
the refinement and cultivation of civilized life, not unfrequently
becoming semi-barbarians,--so altered in habits and sentiments, that
they not only become attached to savage life, but eventually lose all
relish for any other.

I can give good authority for this. The Governor, writing me last
year regarding some of my acquaintances who had recently retired,
observes--"They are comfortably settled, but apparently at a loss what
to do with themselves; and sigh for the Indian country, the squaws,
and skins, and savages."

Such are the rewards the Indian trader may expect;--add to these, in
a few cases, the acquisition of some thousands, which, after forty
years' exile, he has neither health, nor strength, nor taste to enjoy.
Few instances have occurred of gentlemen retiring with a competency
under thirty-five or forty years' servitude, even in the best days of
the trade; what period may be required to attain that object in these
times, is a question not easily solved. Up to 1840, one eighty-fifth
share had averaged 400l. per annum; since then, however, the dividends
have been on the decline, nor are they ever likely to reach the same
amount, for several reasons,--the chief of which is the destruction of
the fur-bearing animals.

In certain parts of the country, it is the Company's policy to destroy
them along the whole frontier; and our general instructions recommend
that every effort be made to lay waste the country, so as to offer no
inducement to petty traders to encroach on the Company's limits. Those
instructions have indeed had the effect of ruining the country, but
not of protecting the Company's domains. Along the Canadian frontier,
the Indians, finding no more game on their own lands, push beyond the
boundary, and not only hunt on the Company's territory, but carry a
supply of goods with them, which they trade with the natives. Their
Honours' fiat has also nearly swept away the fur animals on the west
side of the Rocky Mountains; yet I doubt whether all this precaution
will ensure the integrity of their domains. The Americans have taken
possession of the Columbia, and will speedily multiply and increase:
ere many years their trappers will be found scouring the interior,
from the banks of the Columbia to New Caledonia, and probably
penetrating to the east side of the Rocky Mountains. Should they
do so, that valuable part of the country embraced by the Peace and
McKenzie Rivers would soon be ruined; for the white trapper makes
a clean sweep wherever he goes. Taking all these circumstances
into consideration, I do not see any great probability--to say the
least--that the trade will ever attain the prosperity of days bygone.

Even in such parts of the country as the Company endeavour to
preserve, both the fur-bearing and larger animals have of late become
so scarce, that some tribes are under the necessity of quitting their
usual hunting-grounds. A certain gentleman, in charge of a district to
which some of those Indians withdrew, on being censured for harbouring
them in his vicinity, writes thus:--"Pray, is it surprising, that poor
Indians, whose lives are in jeopardy, should relish a taste of buffalo
meat? It is not the Chippewayans alone that leave their lands to go
in search of food to preserve their lives; the Strongwood Crees and
Assineboines are all out in the plains, because, as they affirm, their
usual hunting-grounds are so exhausted that they cannot live upon
them. It is no wish of mine that those Indians should visit us--we
have trouble enough with our own,--but to turn a poor Indian out of
doors, who arrives at the Company's establishment nearly dead with
hunger, is what I am not able to do."

In the work already quoted I find it stated "that the Company have
carefully nursed the various animals, removing their stations from the
various districts where they had become scarce, and taking particular
care to preserve the female while pregnant! instead, therefore, of
being in a state of diminution, as generally supposed, the produce is
increasing throughout their domains." Fudge! It is unnecessary to
say, that if this statement were correct, we should not hear such
distressing accounts of starvation throughout the country. No people
can be more attached to their native soil than the Indians; and it is
only the most pressing necessity that ever compels them to remove.

In 1842 the Governor and Committee issued positive orders that the
beavers should be preserved, and every effort made to prevent the
Indians from killing them for a period of three years. This was, in a
great measure, "shutting the stable door after the steed was stolen."
The beavers had already been exterminated in many parts of the
country; and even where some were yet to be found, our injunctions to
the natives to preserve them had but little weight. To appease their
hunger they killed whatever game came in their way, and as we were
not permitted to buy the beaver skins, they either converted them into
articles of clothing for themselves or threw them away. Now (1845) the
restriction is removed, and the beavers have sensibly increased; but
mark the result: the natives are not only encouraged but strenuously
urged to hunt, in order that the parties interested may indemnify
themselves for their lost time; and ere three years more shall have
elapsed, the beaver will be found scarcer than ever.

It is thus evident that whatever steps their Honours may take to
preserve the game, the attainment of that object, in the present
exhausted state of the country, is no longer practicable.

As to the Company's having ever issued orders, or recommended any
particular measures for the preservation of the larger animals, male
or female, the statement is positively untrue. The minutes of the
Council are considered the statutes of the land, and in them the
provision districts are directed to furnish so many bags of pemmican,
so many bales of dry meat, and so many cwt. of grease, every year; and
no reference whatever is made to restrictions of any kind in killing
the animals. The fact is, the provisions must be forthcoming whatever
be the consequence; our business cannot be carried on without them.

That the natives wantonly destroy the game in years of deep snow is
true enough; but the snow fell to as great a depth before the advent
of the whites as after, and the Indians were as prone to slaughter the
animals then as now; yet game of every description abounded and
want was unknown. To what cause then are we to ascribe the present
scarcity? There can be but one answer--to the destruction of the
animals which the prosecution of the fur-trade involves.

As the country becomes impoverished, the Company reduce their outfits
so as to ensure the same amount of profit,--an object utterly beyond
their reach, although economy is pushed to the extreme of parsimony;
and thus, while the game becomes scarcer, and the poor natives require
more ammunition to procure their living, their means of obtaining
it, instead of being increased, are lessened. As an instance of the
effects of this policy, I shall mention what recently occurred in the
Athabasca district.

Up to 1842 the transport of the outfit required four boats, when it
was reduced to three. The reduction in the article of ammunition was
felt so severely by the Chippewayans, that the poor creatures, in
absolute despair, planned a conspiracy to carry off the gentleman at
the head of affairs, and retain him until the Company should restore
the usual outfit.

Despair alone could have suggested such an idea to the Chippewayans,
for they have ever been the friends of the white man. Mr. Campbell,
however, who had passed his life among them, conducted himself with so
much firmness and judgment, that, although the natives had assembled
in his hall with the intention of carrying their design into
execution, the affair passed over without any violence being

The general outfit for the whole northern department amounted in 1835,
to 31,000l.; now (1845) it is reduced to 15,000l., of which one-third
at least is absorbed by the stores at Red River settlement, and a
considerable portion of the remainder by the officers and servants of
the Company throughout the country. I do not believe that more than
one half of the outfit goes to the Indians.

While the resources of the country are thus becoming yearly more and
more exhausted, the question naturally suggests itself, What is to
become of the natives when their lands can no longer furnish the means
of subsistence? This is indeed a serious question, and well worthy of
the earnest attention of the philanthropist. While Britain makes such
strenuous exertions in favour of the sable bondsmen of Africa, and
lavishes her millions to free them from the yoke, can nothing be done
for the once noble, but now degraded, aborigines of America? Are
they to be left to the tender mercies of the trader until famine and
disease sweep them from the earth? People of Britain! the Red Men of
America thus appeal to you;--from the depths of their forest they send
forth their cry--

  "Brethren! beyond the Great Salt Lake, we, the Red Men of America
          salute you:--

"We hear that you are a great and a generous people; that you are as
valiant as generous; and that you freely shed your blood and scatter
your gold in defence of the weak and oppressed; if it be so, you will
open your ears to our plaints.

"Brethren! Our ancients still remember when the Red Men were numerous
and happy; they remember the time when our lands abounded with game;
when the young men went forth to the chase with glad hearts and
vigorous limbs, and never returned empty; in those days our camps
resounded with mirth and merriment; our youth danced and enjoyed
themselves; they anointed their bodies with fat; the sun never set on
a foodless wigwam, and want was unknown.

"Brethren! When your kinsmen came first to us with guns, and
ammunition, and other good things the work of your hands, we were glad
and received them joyfully; our lands were then rich, and yielded with
little toil both furs and provisions to exchange for the good things
they brought us.

"Brethren! Your kinsmen are still amongst us; they still bring us
goods, and now we cannot want them; without guns and ammunition we
must die. Brethren! our fathers were urged by the white men to hunt;
our fathers listened to them; they ranged wood and plain to gratify
their wishes; and now our lands are ruined, our children perish with

"Brethren! We hear that you have another Great Chief who rules over
you, to whom even our great trading Chief must bow; we hear that this
great and good Chief desires the welfare of all his children; we hear
that to him the white man and the red are alike, and, wonderful to
be told! that he asks neither furs nor game in return for his bounty.
Brethren! we feel that we can no longer exist as once we did; we
implore your Great Chief to shield us in our present distress; we
desire to be placed under his immediate care, and to be delivered
from the rule of the trading Chief who only wants our furs, and cares
nothing for our welfare.

"Brethren! Some of your kinsmen visited us lately; they asked neither
our furs nor our flesh; their sojourn was short; but we could see
they were good men; they advised us for our good, and we listened to
them. Brethren! We humbly beseech your Great Chief that he would send
some of those good men to live amongst us: we desire to be taught
to worship the Great Spirit in the way most pleasing to him: without
teachers among us we cannot learn. We wish to be taught to till the
ground, to sow and plant, and to perform whatever the good white
people counsel us to do to preserve the lives of our children.

"Brethren! We could say much more, but we have said enough,--we wish
not to weary you.

"Brethren! We are all the children of the Great Spirit; the red man
and the white man were formed by him. And although we are still in
darkness and misery, we know that all good flows from him. May he turn
your hearts to pity the distress of your Red Brethren! Thus have we
spoken to you."

Such are the groans of the Indians. Would to Heaven they were heard by
my countrymen as I have heard them! Would to Heaven that the misery
I have witnessed were seen by them! The poor Indians then would
not appeal to them in vain. I can scarcely hope that the voice of a
humble, unknown individual, can reach the ears, or make any impression
on the minds of those who have the supreme rule in Britain; but if
there are there men of rank, and fortune, and influence, whose hearts
sympathise with the misery and distress of their fellow-men, whatever
be their country or hue--and, thank God! there are not a few--it is to
those true Britons that I would appeal in behalf of the much-wronged
Indians; the true and rightful owners of the American soil.

If I am asked what I would suggest as the most effective means for
saving the Indians, I answer: Let the Company's charter be abolished,
and the portals of the territory be thrown wide open to every
individual of capital and enterprise, under certain restrictions; let
the British Government take into its hands the executive power of
the territory, and appoint a governor, judges, and magistrates; let
Missionaries be sent forth among the Indians;--already the whole
of the Chippewayan tribes, from English River to New Caledonia, are
disposed to adopt our religion as well as our customs, so that the
Missionaries' work is half done. Let those of them who manifest
a disposition to steady industry be encouraged to cultivate the
ground: let such as evince any aptitude for mechanics be taught
some handicraft, and congregated in villages, wherever favourable
situations can be found--and there is no want of them. Let schools be
established and supported by Government--not mere _common_ schools,
where reading, writing, arithmetic, and perhaps some of the higher
branches may be taught; but _training_ and _industrial_ schools. Where
the soil or climate is unfit for husbandry, other means of improving
their condition might be resorted to. In the barren grounds, bordering
on the Arctic regions, rein-deer still abound. Why should not the
Indians succeed in domesticating these animals, and rendering them
subservient to their wants, as the Laplanders do? I have been informed
that the Yellow Knives, and some of the other tribes inhabiting these
desert tracts, have the art of taming the fawns, which they take in
great numbers while swimming after their dams, so that they follow
them like dogs till they see fit to kill them.

Such, in brief, are the measures which, after much experience, and
long and serious consideration, I would venture to propose in behalf
of the Indians; and most happy shall I be if anything I have said
shall have the effect of awakening the public interest to their
condition; or form the groundwork of any plan which, by the blessing
of God, may have the effect of preserving and christianizing the
remnants of these unhappy tribes.

It may be objected, that the Company have had their charter renewed
for a period of twenty-one years, which does not expire till 1863;
and that Government is bound in honour to sustain the validity of the
deed. But if Government is bound to protect the _interests_ of the
Hudson's Bay Company, is it less bound to protect the _property_ and
_lives_ of their weak, ignorant, and wronged subjects? The validity of
the original charter, the foundation of the present, is, however, more
than questioned: nay, it has been declared by high authority to be
null and void. Admitting its validity, and admitting that the dictates
of honour call for the fulfilment of the charter in guarding the
_profits_ of the few individuals (and their dependants) who assemble
weekly in the old house in Fenchurch Street; are we to turn a deaf ear
to the still small voice of justice and humanity pleading in behalf
of the numerous tribes of perishing Indians? Now, now is the time to
apply the remedy; in 1863, where will the Indian be?

If it is urged that the measures I propose violate the charter,
deprive the Company of their sovereignty, and reduce them to the
situation of subjects; still, I say, they will have vast advantages
over every other competitor. Their ample resources, their long
exclusive possession of the trade, their experience, the skill and
activity of their agents, will long, perhaps permanently, secure to
them the greatest portion of the trade; while the Indians will be
greatly benefited by a free competition.

If it be urged that the profits will be so much reduced by
competition, that the trade will not be worth pursuing; I answer,
that competition has certainly a natural tendency to reduce profits;
but experience proves that it has also a tendency to reduce costs.
A monopolist company never goes very economically to work; and,
although much economy, or rather parsimony, of a very questionable and
impolitic kind, has been of late years attempted to be introduced into
the management of the Hudson's Bay Company's affairs, a free and fair
competition will suggest economy of a sounder kind--the facilitating
of transport, the improvement of portages, and the saving of labour.
Where are the evils which interested alarmists predicted would follow
the modification of the East India Company's charter?

I have spoken of restrictions to be imposed on those who engage in the
trade. These are;--that no one be allowed to engage in it without
a licence from Government;--that these licensed traders should be
confined to a certain locality, beyond which they should not move, on
any pretext;--and that no spirituous liquors should be sold or given
to the Indians under the severest penalties--such as the forfeiture of
the offender's licence, and of their right to participate in the trade
in all time coming.



Allusion has been made in a former chapter to the Company's
encouragement of Missionaries; I shall now add a few facts by way of

The Rev. Mr. Evans, a man no less remarkable for genuine piety than
for energy and decision of character, had been present at several of
the annual meetings of the Indians at Manitoulin Island, and had felt
his sympathy deeply awakened by the sight of their degradation and
spiritual destitution. While thus affected, he received an invitation
from the American Episcopal Methodists to go as a Missionary among
the Indians resident in the Union. Feeling, however, that his services
were rather due to his fellow-subjects, he resolved to devote his
labours and his life to the tribes residing in the Hudson's Bay
territory. Having made known his intentions to this Canada Conference,
he, together with Messrs. Thomas Hurlburt, and Peter Jacobs, was
by them appointed a Missionary, and at their charges sent to that
territory. No application was made to the Company, and neither
encouragement nor support was expected from them. Mr. E. and his
brother Missionaries began their operations by raising with their own
hands, unassisted, a house at the Pic; themselves cutting and hauling
the timber on the ice. They obtained, indeed, a temporary lodging at
Fort Michipicoton, but they not only found their own provisions, but
the comforts of the establishment were materially increased by Mr.
E.'s and his interpreter's success in fishing and hunting. Late in the
fall, accompanied by two Indian boys in a small canoe, Mr. E. made
a voyage to Sault Ste. Marie for provisions: and on this expedition,
rendered doubly hazardous by the lateness of the season, and the
inexperience of his companions, he more than once narrowly escaped
being lost.

Returning next season to Canada for his family, he met Sir G.
Simpson, on Lake Superior. Having learned that the Mission was already
established, and likely to succeed, Sir George received him with
the utmost urbanity, treating him not only with kindness but
with distinction; he expressed the highest satisfaction at the
establishment of the Mission, promised him his utmost support, and at
length proposed that arrangement, which, however apparently auspicious
for the infant Mission, was ultimately found to be very prejudicial to

The caution of Mr. E. was completely lulled asleep by the apparent
kindness of the Governor, and the hearty warmth with which he seemed
to enter into his views. Sir George proposed that the Missionaries
should hold the same rank and receive the same allowance as the
wintering partners, or commissioned officers; and that canoes, or
other means of conveyance, should be furnished to the Missionaries for
their expeditions; nor did it seem unreasonable to stipulate that in
return for these substantial benefits, they should say or do nothing
prejudicial to the Company's interests either among the natives, or in
their Reports to the Conference in England, to whose jurisdiction the
Mission was transferred. The great evil of this arrangement was, that
the Missionaries, from being the servants of God, accountable to Him
alone, became the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company, dependent
on, and amenable to them; and the Committee were of course to be the
sole judges of what was, or was not, prejudicial to their interests.
Still, it is impossible to blame very severely either Mr. E. or
the Conference for accepting offers apparently so advantageous, or
even for consenting to certain restrictions in publishing their
Reports:--with the assistance and co-operation of the Company great
good might be effected;--with the hostility of a Corporation all but
omnipotent within its own domain, and among the Indians, the post
might not be tenable.

For some time matters went on smoothly: by the indefatigable exertions
of Mr. E. and his fellow-workers, aided also by Mrs. E., who devoted
much of her time and labour to the instruction of the females, a great
reformation was effected in the habits and morals of the Indians.
But Mr. Evans soon perceived that without books printed in the Indian
language, little permanent good would be realized: he therefore wrote
to the London Conference to send him a printing press and types, with
characters of a simple phonetic kind, which he himself had invented,
and of which he gave them a copy. The press was procured without
delay, but was detained in London by the Governor and Committee; and
though they were again and again petitioned to forward it, they flatly
refused. Mr. E., however, was not a man to be turned aside from his
purpose. With his characteristic energy he set to work, and having
invented an alphabet of a more simple kind, he with his penknife cut
the types, and formed the letters from musket bullets; he constructed
a rude sort of press; and aided by Mrs. E. as compositor, he at length
succeeded in printing prayers, and hymns, and passages of Scripture
for the use of the Indians. Finding their object in detaining the
press thus baffled, the Governor and Committee deemed it expedient to
forward it; but with the express stipulation, that every thing printed
should be sent to the commander of the post as _censor_, before it
was published among the Indians. This was among the first causes of
distrust and dissatisfaction.

Another source of dissatisfaction was Mr. E.'s faithfulness in
regard to the observance of the sabbath. As the Indians became more
enlightened they ceased to hunt and fish, and even to carry home game
on the sabbath day; and, as a matter of course, they would no longer
work for the Company on that day. But Mr. E. was guilty of equal
faithfulness in remonstrating with those gentlemen in the service with
whom he was on terms of intimacy in regard to this point of the Divine
law; and several gentlemen, convinced by his arguments, determined to
cease from working and travelling on the sabbath.

One of them, Mr. C----l, while on a distant expedition, acted in
accordance with his convictions, and rested on the sabbath. The voyage
turned out unusually stormy, and the water in the rivers was low, so
that it occupied several days longer than it had formerly done; and
the loss of time, which was really owing to the adverse weather,
was charged on his keeping of the sabbath. From that day forth,
the encouragement given to the Missionaries began to be withdrawn;
obstacles were thrown in their way, and although nothing was openly
done to injure the Missions already in operation, it would seem
that it was determined that, if the Company could prevent it, no new
stations should be occupied--at least by _Protestant_ Missionaries.

Not long after, Mr. E., finding that the Missions he had hitherto
superintended were in such a state of progress that he might safely
leave them to the care of his fellow-labourers, resolved to proceed
to Athabasca and establish a mission there. Having gone, as usual, to
the Commander of the post to obtain the necessary provisions, and a
canoe and boatmen, he was received with unusual coldness. He asked
provisions,--none could be given; he offered to purchase them,--the
commander refused to sell him any. He begged a canoe,--it was denied
him; and finally, when he intreated that, if he should be able to
procure those necessaries elsewhere, he might at least be allowed a
couple of men to assist him on the voyage, he was answered that none
would be allowed to go on that service. Deeply grieved, but nothing
daunted, Mr. E. procured those necessaries from private resources,
and proceeded on his voyage. But a sad calamity put a stop to it; in
handing his gun to the interpreter it accidentally went off, and the
charge lodging in his breast killed him instantaneously. He was thus
compelled to return, in a state of mind bordering on distraction.

Mr. E.'s zeal and piety promised the best results to the spiritual
and eternal interests of his Indian brethren. His talents, energy,
and fertility of resource, which seemed to rise with every obstacle,
had the happiest effects on their temporal well-being; and his mild
and winning manners greatly endeared him to all the Indians. But his
useful and honourable career was drawing to a close. The mournful
accident already alluded to had affected his health, and he now
received his deathblow.

Yet, obnoxious as he had become to the Company, and formidable to
their interests as they might deem one of his talents and indomitable
resolution to be, the blow was not struck by them. It was dealt by
a _false_ brother; by one who had eaten of his bread: by a "familiar
friend, with whom he had taken sweet counsel." Charges affecting his
character, both as a man and a minister, of the foulest and blackest
kind, were transmitted to the Conference by a brother Missionary. To
answer these charges, as false as they were foul, he was compelled
to leave the churches he had planted and watered, to bid adieu to the
people whose salvation had been for years the sole object of his life,
and to undertake a voyage of 5,000 miles to appear before his brethren
as a _criminal_. As a criminal, indeed, he was received; yet after
an investigation, begun and carried on in no very friendly spirit to
him, truth prevailed. He was declared innocent, and the right hand
of fellowship was again extended to him. He made a short tour through
England, and was everywhere received with respect, and affection, and

But anxiety, and grief, and shame had done their work. Scarce three
weeks had elapsed, when, having spent the evening along with Mrs.
E. in the family of a friend, whose guest he was, with some of his
wonted cheerfulness, Mrs. E. having retired but a few minutes, she was
summoned to the room where she had left him in time to see him pass
into that land where "the wicked cease from troubling." The cause
of his death was an _affection of the heart_. And that man--the
slanderer--the murderer of this martyred Missionary--what punishment
was inflicted on him? He is to this day unpunished! and yet lives
in the Hudson's Bay territory, the disgrace and opprobrium of his
profession and his church.

Such are a few facts connected with the establishment of the Wesleyan
Mission in the Hudson's Bay territory, and illustrative of the sort
of encouragement given by the Committee to Protestant Missionaries.
By way of rider to these, I may just remind the reader that Roman
Catholic Missionaries have since been freely permitted to plant
churches wherever they pleased, even in districts where Protestant
Missions were already established.

After all, this is not much to be wondered at, since Sir G.
Simpson openly avowed to Mr. Evans his preference of Roman Catholic
Missionaries; one reason for this preference being, that these never
interfered with the Company's servants, nor troubled them with any
precise or puritanical notions about the moral law.




Red River rises in swamps and small lakes in the distant plains of the
south; and after receiving a number of tributary streams that serve to
fertilize and beautify as fine a tract of land as the world possesses,
discharges itself into the eastern extremity of Lake Winnipeg in
lat. 50°. The climate is much the same as in the midland districts of
Canada; the river is generally frozen across about the beginning of
November, and open about the beginning of April. The soil along the
banks of the river is of the richest vegetable mould, and of so great
a depth that crops of wheat are produced for several years without the
application of manure. The banks produce oak, elm, maple, and ash; the
woods extend rather more than a mile inland. The farms of the first
settlers are now nearly clear of wood; an open plain succeeds of from
four to six miles in breadth, affording excellent pasture. Woods and
plains alternate afterwards until you reach the boundless prairie.
The woods produce a variety of delicious fruits, delighting the
eye and gratifying the taste of the inhabitants; cherries, plums,
gooseberries, currants, grapes, and sasgatum berries in great
abundance. Coal has been discovered in several places, and also salt

Lord Selkirk having been made acquainted with the natural advantages
of this favoured country by his North-West hosts in Montreal,
determined forthwith on adopting such measures as might ensure to
himself and heirs the possession of it for ever. Accordingly, on his
return to England, he purchased Hudson's Bay Company's stock to an
amount that enabled him to control the decisions of the Committee;
and thus, covered by the shield of the charter, he could carry on his
premeditated schemes of aggression against the North-West Company,
with some appearance of justice on his side.

With the view of carrying out these schemes, he proceeded to the North
of Scotland, and prevailed on a body of Highlanders to emigrate to Red
River. To induce them to quit their native land, the most flattering
prospects were held out to them; the moment they set their foot in
this land of promise, the hardships and privations to which they had
hitherto been subject, would disappear; the poor man would exchange
his "potato patch" for a fine estate; the gentleman would become a
ruler and a judge in--Assineboine! Who could doubt the fulfilment
of the promises of a British peer? His Lordship, therefore, soon
collected the required number of emigrants--for the Highlander of the
present day gladly embraces any opportunity of quitting a country that
no longer affords him bread.

At the period in question, Red River district furnished the principal
part of the provisions required by the North-West Company, and was a
wilderness, inhabited only by wandering Indians, and abounding in the
larger animals--elk and rein-deer in the woods, and buffalo in the

As Red River flows into Lake Winnipeg, which discharges itself by
Neilson's river into Hudson's Bay, and could therefore be included
within the territory granted by the charter, our noble trader
concluded that, by taking formal possession of the country, he would
obtain the right of expelling other adventurers, merely by warning
them off the Company's grounds; and that, if the warning were
disregarded, he could claim the aid of Government to enforce his
rights, and thus ruin the North-West Company at a blow. His Lordship's
Governor was therefore instructed to issue a proclamation, prohibiting
the North-West Company by name, and all others, from carrying on
any species of trade within Red River district, and ordering such
establishments as had been formed to be abandoned.

The North-Westers read the proclamation, and--prosecuted their
business as before. In such circumstances quarrels were unavoidable,
but they were generally settled with _ink_; a collision ultimately
took place that led to the shedding of blood. The North-Westers had
collected a large supply of provisions at their dépôt, and were
about to forward it to the place of embarkation, when they were
informed--falsely, as it afterwards appeared,--that the Governor
intended to waylay and seize the provisions. A report, equally false,
was brought to the Governor, that the North-Westers had assembled a
strong force of half-breeds to attack the fort. These lying rumours
led to an unhappy catastrophe.

The Governor sent out scouts to watch the North-West party;
and ascertaining that they were on their march with an unusual
force,--which they had brought in order to repel the attack which they
supposed was to be made upon them,--he seized his arms, and marched
with his whole party to meet them. The North-Westers seeing them
approach, halted, and standing to their arms, sent forward one of
their number to demand whether Mr. Semple and his party were for peace
or war.

During the interview a shot was fired--it is a matter in dispute to
this day who fired it--the half-breeds immediately poured a volley
into the ranks of their opponents, and brought down nearly all the
gentlemen of the party, including the unfortunate Governor; the
remainder fled to the fort, so closely pursued, that friend and foe
entered together. Thus the poor settlers found themselves suddenly
surrounded by all the horrors of war; their anticipated paradise
converted into a field of blood; husbands and brothers killed; their
little property pillaged, and their persons in the power of their

An arrangement, however, was entered into by the rival Companies,
that allowed the emigrants to take possession of the lands allotted
to them, and in the course of a few years their labour had made a
sensible impression on the forest. Cattle were sent out from England;
pigs and poultry followed, and honest Donald was beginning to find
himself at his ease, when, lo! all his dreams of future wealth and
happiness vanished in a moment. Red River overflowed its banks,
and inundated the whole settlement. This extraordinary flood caused
immense loss; it overthrew houses, swept away the cattle, and utterly
ruined the crops of the season. The buffaloes, however, proved
abundant, and afforded a supply of provisions enough to prevent
starvation, and the settlers soon recovered from the effects of this
misfortune. Another calamity followed--the caterpillar appeared--at
first in small numbers, afterwards in myriads, covering the whole
land, and eating up "every green thing," and thus the crops were
destroyed a second time; but the consequences were not so severely
felt as formerly; the preceding season had proved extremely abundant,
and a sufficient quantity remained to supply the failure of this year.
Since that time the colony has advanced rapidly, enjoying undisturbed
peace; industry has its sure reward in the abundance of all the
necessaries of life which it procures.

Since the coalition took place, Red River has become the favourite
retreat of the Company's servants, especially of those who have
families; here they obtain lands almost at a nominal price. A lot of
one mile in length and six chains in breadth, costs only 18l.; and
they find themselves surrounded by people of congenial habits with
themselves, the companions of their youth, and fellow-adventurers;
those with whom they tugged at the oar, and shared the toil of the
winter march; and when they meet together to smoke the social pipe,
and talk of the scenes of earlier days, "nor prince nor prelate" can
enjoy more happiness.

The last census, taken in 1836, gave the population at 5,000 souls; it
may now (1845) amount to 7,000. Of this number a very small proportion
is Scotch, about forty families, and perhaps 300 souls. The Scotch
carried with them the frugal and industrious habits of their country;
the same qualities characterise their children, who are far in advance
of their neighbours in all that constitutes the comforts of life.
These advantages they owe, under the blessing of Providence, to their
own good management; yet, notwithstanding this, and notwithstanding
that they are a quiet and a moral people, they are objects of envy and
hatred to their hybrid neighbours; and thus my industrious and worthy
countrymen, in the possession of almost every other blessing which
they could desire, are still unhappy from the malice and ill-will they
meet with on every side; and being so inferior in numbers, they must
submit to the insults and abuse they are daily exposed to, while the
blood boils in their veins to resent them. Thus situated, many of them
have abandoned the settlement and gone to the United States, where
they enjoy the fruits of their industry in peace.

The French half-breeds and retired Canadian voyageurs occupy the upper
part of the settlement. The half-breeds are strongly attached to the
roving life of the hunter; the greater part of them depend entirely on
the chase for a living, and even the few who attend to farming take a
trip to the plains, to feast on buffalo humps and marrow fat. They sow
their little patches of ground early in spring, and then set out for
the chase, taking wives and children along with them, and leaving only
the aged and infirm at home to attend to the crops.

When they set out for the plains, they observe all the order and
regularity of a military march; officers being chosen for the
enforcement of discipline, who are subject to the orders of a chief,
whom they style "M. le Commandant." They take their departure from the
settlement about the latter end of June, to the number of from 1,200
to 1,500 souls; each hunter possesses at least six carts, and some
twelve; the whole number may amount to 5,000 carts. Besides his riding
nag and cart horses, he has also at least one buffalo runner, which he
never mounts until he is about to charge the buffalo. The "runner" is
tended with all the care which the cavalier of old bestowed on his
war steed; his housing and trappings are garnished with beads and
porcupine quills, exhibiting all the skill which the hunter's wife or
belle can exercise; while head and tail display all the colours of the
rainbow in the variety of ribbon attached to them.

The "Commandant" directs the movements of the whole cavalcade: at a
signal given in the morning by sound of trumpet--_alias_, by blowing
a horn,--the hunters start together for their horses; while the women
and servants strike the tents, and pack up and load the baggage. The
horses being all collected, a second blast forms the order of march;
the carts fall in, four abreast; the hunters mount; and dividing into
their different bodies, one precedes the baggage, another closes
the line, and a third divides in both flanks. The third blast is
the signal for marching. They halt about two hours at noon, for the
purpose of allowing their cattle time to feed; and the same order is
observed as in starting in the morning. When they encamp at night,
the carts are placed in a circle; and the tents are pitched within
the enclosed space, so as to form regular streets; the horses are
"hobbled" and turned loose to graze.

All the arrangements for the night being completed, guards are
appointed to watch over the safety of the camp, who are relieved
at fixed hours. In this manner they proceed until they approach the
buffalo grounds, when scouts are sent out to ascertain the spot where
the herd may be found. The joyful discovery being made, the scouts
apprise the main body by galloping backwards and forwards, when a halt
is immediately ordered. The camp is pitched; the hunters mount their
runners; and the whole being formed into an extended line, with the
utmost regularity, they set forward at a hand gallop; not a soul
advances an inch in front of the line, until within gun-shot of the
herd, when they rein up for a moment. The whole body then, as if with
one voice, shout the war whoop, and rush on the herd at full gallop;
each hunter, singling out an animal, pursues it until he finds an
opportunity of taking sure aim; the animal being dispatched, some
article is dropped upon it that can be afterwards recognised. The
hunter immediately sets off in chase of another, priming, loading, and
taking aim at full speed. A first-rate runner not unfrequently secures
ten buffaloes at a "course;" from four to eight is the usual number.
He who draws the first blood claims the animal, and each individual
hunter is allowed whatever he kills.

The moment the firing commences, the women set out with the carts, and
cut up and convey the meat to the camp; where it is dried by means of
bones and fat. Two or three days are required for the operation, when
they set out again; and the same herd, perhaps, yields a sufficient
quantity to load all the carts, each carrying about one thousand
pounds,--an enormous quantity in the aggregate; yet the herd is
sometimes so numerous that all this slaughter does not seem to
diminish it.

The buffalo hunt affords much of the excitement, and some of the
dangers, of the battle-field. The horses are often gored by the
infuriated bulls, to the great peril--sometimes to the loss--of the
rider's life; serious accidents too happen from falls. There are no
better horsemen in the world than the Red River "brulés;" and so long
as the horse keeps on his legs, the rider sticks to him. The falls
are chiefly occasioned by the deep holes the badger digs all over the
prairies; if the horse plunges into one of these, both horse and man
roll on the ground. Fatal accidents, also, occasionally happen from
gun shots in the _melée_; and it is said, I know not with what truth,
that a wronged husband, or a supplanted lover, sometimes avails
himself of the opportunity presented by the _melée_ to miss the
buffalo, and hit a friend--by _accident_.

A priest generally accompanies the camp, and mass is celebrated with
becoming solemnity on Sundays. The "brulés" attend, looking very
serious and grave until a herd of buffaloes appear; when the cry of
"La vache! la vache!" scatters the congregation in an instant; away
they scamper, old and young, leaving the priest to preach to the
winds, or perhaps to a few women and children. Two trips in the year
are generally made to the prairie; the latter in August. The buffalo
hunter's life assimilates more to that of the savage than of the
civilized man; it is a life of alternate plenty and want--a life
also of danger and inquietude. The Indians of the plain view the
encroachment of the strange race on their hunting grounds, with
feelings of jealousy and enmity. They are, accordingly, continually on
the alert; they attack detached parties and stragglers; they also set
fire to the prairies about the time the "brulés" set out for the hunt,
and by this means drive the game beyond their reach. Owing to this
circumstance, the "brulés" have returned with empty carts for these
two years past; and their only resource has been to betake themselves
to the woods, and live after the manner of the Indians. Could they
find a sure market for the produce of the soil, so as to remunerate
their labour, there can be little doubt but that they might be
gradually detached from the half-savage life they lead, and become as
steady and industrious as their neighbours.

The English half-breeds, as the mixed progeny of the British are
designated, possess many of the characteristics of their fathers; they
generally prefer the more certain pursuit of husbandry to the chase,
and follow close on the heels of the Scotch in the path of industry
and moral rectitude. Very few of them resort to the plains, unless for
the purpose of trafficking the produce of their farms for the produce
of the chase; and it is said that they frequently return home better
supplied with meat than the hunters themselves.

The Indians who have been converted to the Protestant religion, are
settled around their respected pastor at the lower extremity of
the settlement, within twenty miles of the mouth of the river. The
Sauteux, of all other tribes, are the most tenacious of their own
superstitions; and it would require all the zeal and patience and
perseverance of the primitive teachers of Christianity to wean them
from them. But when convinced of his errors, the Sauteux convert is
the more steadfast in his faith; and his steadfastness and sincerity
prove an ample reward to his spiritual father for his pains and
anxiety on his behalf.

The Indian converts are entirely guided by their Missionary in
temporal as well as in spiritual things. When he first came among
them, he found their habits of indolence so deep-rooted, that
something more than advice was necessary to produce the desired
change. Like Oberlin, therefore, he set before them the example of a
laborious and industrious life; he tilled, he sowed, he planted, he
reaped with his own hands, and afterwards shared his produce with
them. By persevering in this, he succeeded in finally gaining them
to his views; and, at the present moment, their settlement is in as
forward a state of improvement as any of the neighbouring settlements.

They have their mills, and barns, and dwelling-houses; their horses,
and cattle, and well-cultivated fields:--a happy change! A few years
ago, these same Indians were a wretched, vagabond race; "hewers of
wood and drawers of water" for the other settlers, as their pagan
brethren still are; they wandered about from house to house,
half-starved, and half-naked; and even in this state of abject misery,
preferring a glass of "fire-water" to food and raiment for themselves
or their children.

There are at present three ministers of the episcopal communion at Red
River. The Scotch inhabitants attend the church regularly, although
they sigh after the form of worship to which they had been accustomed
in early youth; they, however, assemble afterwards in their own houses
to read the Scriptures, and worship God after the manner of their
fathers. There are also three Roman Catholic clergymen, including
a bishop;--good, exemplary men, whose "constant care" is not "to
increase their store," but to guide and direct their flocks in the
paths of piety and virtue. But, alas! they have a stiff-necked people
to deal with;--the French half-breed, who follows the hunter's life,
possesses all the worst vices of his European and Indian progenitors,
and is indifferent alike to the laws of God and man. There are,
in all, seven places of worship, three Roman Catholic, and four
Protestant, including two for the Indians.

The education of the more respectable families, particularly those
of the Company's officers, is well provided for at an institution
of great merit; the gentleman who presides over it being every
way qualified for the important trust. The different branches of
mathematical and classical learning are taught in it; and the school
has already produced some excellent scholars. In addition to the more
useful branches of female education, the young ladies are taught music
and drawing by a respectable person of their own sex. Thus we have,
in the midst of this remote wilderness of the North-West, all the
elements of civilized life; and there are there many young persons of
both sexes, well educated and accomplished, who have never seen the
civilized world. There are also thirteen schools for the children of
the lower class, supported entirely by the parents themselves.

The Company have here two shops (or stores), well supplied with every
description of goods the inhabitants can require; there are besides
several merchants scattered through the settlement, some of whom are
said to be in easy circumstances. The Company's bills constitute the
circulating medium, and are issued for the value of from one to twenty
shillings. Of late years, a considerable amount of American specie
has found its way into the settlement, probably in exchange for furs
clandestinely disposed of by the merchants beyond the line. The petty
merchants import their goods from England by the Company's ships; an
_ad valorem_ duty is imposed on these goods, the proceeds of which are
applied to the payment of the constabulary force of the colony. The
Company's charter invests it with the entire jurisdiction, executive
and judicial, of the colony. The local Governor and Council enact such
simple statutes as the primitive condition of the settlement requires;
and those enactments have hitherto proved equal to the maintenance
of good order. A court of quarter sessions is regularly held for the
administration of justice, and the Company have lately appointed a
Recorder to preside over it. It is gratifying to learn, that this
functionary has had occasion to pass judgment on no very flagitious
crime since his appointment.

In the work to which I have so frequently referred, it is mentioned,
that a "certain market is secured to the inhabitants by the demand
for provisions for the other settlements." If by "settlements" the
miserable trading posts be meant, as it must be, I know not on what
grounds such an affirmation is made. A sure market, forsooth! A single
Scotch farmer could be found in the colony, able alone to supply the
greater part of the produce the Company require; there is one, in
fact, who offered to do it. If a sure market were secured to the
colonists of Red River, they would speedily become the wealthiest
yeomanry in the world. Their barns and granaries are always full to
overflowing; so abundant are the crops, that many of the farmers could
subsist for a period of two or even three years, without putting a
grain of seed in the ground. The Company purchase from six to eight
bushels of wheat from each farmer, at the rate of three shillings per
bushel; and the sum total of their yearly purchases from the whole
settlement amounts to--

  600 cwt. flour, first and second quality.
  35 bushels rough barley.
  10 half-firkins butter, 28 lbs. each.
  10 bushels Indian corn.
  200 cwt. best kiln-dried flour.
  60 firkins butter, 56 lbs. each.
  240 lbs. cheese.
  60 hams.

Thus it happens that the Red River farmer finds a "sure market" for
six or eight bushels of wheat--and no more. Where he finds a sure
market for the remainder of his produce, Heaven only knows--I do not.
This much, however, I do know,--that the incomparable advantages this
delightful country possesses are not only in a great measure lost to
the inhabitants, but also to the world, so long as it remains under
the domination of its fur-trading rulers. In the possession of, and
subject to the immediate jurisdiction of the Crown, Assineboine would
become a great and a flourishing colony--the centre of civilization
and Christianity to the surrounding tribes, who would be converted
from hostile barbarians into a civilized and loyal people;--and thus
Great Britain would extend and establish her dominion in a portion
of her empire that may be said to have been hitherto unknown to her,
while she would open a new field for the enterprise and industry of
her sons.

In describing the advantages of this country, candour requires that I
should also point out its disadvantages. The chief disadvantage is the
difficulty of the communication with the sea, interrupted as it is by
shoals, rapids, and falls, which in their present state can only be
surmounted with incredible toil and labour. Yet there cannot be a
doubt that the skill of the engineer could effect such improvements as
would obviate the most, if not the whole, of this labour, and that at
no very great cost. The distance from the mouth of Red River to York
Factory is about 550 miles; 300 miles of this distance is formed of
lakes--(Lake Winnipeg, 250 miles in length, is navigable for vessels
of forty and fifty tons burden). The greater part of the river
communication might be rendered passable by Durham boats, merely
by damming up the rivers. Along the line of communication, many
situations may be found suitable for farming operations.



Sir George Simpson commenced his career as a clerk in a respectable
counting-house in London, where his talents soon advanced him to the
first seat at the desk. He was in this situation when first introduced
to the notice of a member of the Committee of the Hudson's Bay
Company, who were at that time engaged in the ruinous competition with
the North-West Company already referred to. While the contest was
at its height, the Company sent out Mr. Simpson as Governor of the
Northern department;--an appointment for which, by his abilities
natural and acquired, he was well qualified. Mr. Simpson combined with
the prepossessing manners of a gentleman all the craft and subtlety of
an intriguing courtier; while his cold and callous heart was incapable
of sympathising with the woes and pains of his fellow-men. On his
first arrival, he carefully concealed from those whom he was about
to supersede, the powers with which he was invested; he studied
the characters of individuals, scrutinized in secret their mode of
managing affairs, and when he had made himself fully acquainted with
every particular he desired to know, he produced his commission;--a
circumstance that proved as unexpected as it was unsatisfactory to
those whose interests it affected.

Making every allowance for Sir George's abilities, he is evidently
one of those men whom the blind goddess "delighteth to honour." Soon
after assuming the supreme command, the North-West wintering partners
undertook the mission to England, already mentioned, which led to
the coalition; and thus Sir George found himself, by a concurrence of
circumstances quite independent of his merits, placed at the head of
both parties; from being Governor of Rupert's Land his jurisdiction
now included the whole of the Indian territory from Hudson's Bay to
the shores of the Pacific Ocean; and the Southern department, at that
time a separate command, was soon after added to his government. Here,
then, was a field worthy of his talents; and that he did every manner
of justice to it, no one can deny. Yet he owes much of his success
to the valuable assistance rendered him by Mr. McTavish; at his
suggestion, the whole business was re-organized, a thousand abuses
in the management of affairs were reformed, and a strict system
of economy was introduced where formerly boundless extravagance
prevailed. To effect these salutary measures, however, much tact
was required: and here Sir George's abilities shone conspicuous.
The long-continued strife between the two companies had engendered
feelings of envy and animosity, which could not subside in a day; and
the steps that had been taken to bring about the coalition, created
much ill-will even among the North-West partners themselves. Nor were
the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company without their dissensions
also. To harmonize these elements of discord, to reconcile the
different parties thus brought so suddenly and unexpectedly together
into one fold, was a task of the utmost difficulty to accomplish; but
Sir George was equal to it. He soon discovered that the North-West
partners possessed both the will and the ability to thwart and defeat
such of his plans as were not satisfactory to themselves; that
they were by far the most numerous in the Council--at that time
an independent body--and the best acquainted with the trade of the
Northern department, the most important in the territory; and finding,
after some experience, that while those gentlemen continued united,
their power was beyond his control, and that to resist them openly
would only bring ruin on himself, without any benefit to the concern,
he prudently gave way to their influence; and instead of forcing
himself against the stream, allowed himself apparently to be carried
along with it.

For a time, he seemed to promote all the views of his late
adversaries; he yielded a ready and gracious acquiescence in their
wishes; he lavished his bows, and smiles, and honied words on them
all; and played his part so well, that the North-Westers thought they
had actually gained him over to their own side; while the gentlemen of
the Hudson's Bay Company branded him as a traitor, who had abandoned
his own party and gone over to the enemy.

The Committee received several hints of the Governor's "strange
management," but they only smiled at the insinuations, as they
perfectly understood the policy. His well-digested schemes had, in due
time, all the success he anticipated.

Having thus completely gained the confidence of the North-West
partners, his policy began gradually to unfold itself. One
obstreperous North-Wester was sent to the Columbia; another to the
Montreal department, where "their able services could not be dispensed
with;" and thus in the course of a few years he got rid of all those
refractory spirits who dared to tell him their minds.

The North-West nonconformists being in this manner disposed of, Sir
George deemed it no longer necessary to wear the mask. His old friends
of the Hudson's Bay, or "sky-blue" party, were gradually received into
favour; his power daily gained the ascendant, and at this moment Sir
George Simpson's rule is more absolute than that of any governor under
the British crown, as his influence with the Committee enables him to
carry into effect any measure he may recommend. That one possessed
of an authority so unbounded should often abuse his power is not to
be wondered at; and that the abuse of power thus tolerated should
degenerate into tyranny is but the natural consequence of human
weakness and depravity. The question is--Is it consistent with
prudence to allow an _individual_ to assume and retain such power?
Most of the Company's officers enter the service while yet very young;
none are so young, however, as not to be aware of the privileges to
which they are entitled as British subjects, and that they have a
right to enjoy those privileges while they tread on British soil.
The oft repeated acts of tyranny of which the autocrat of "all Prince
Rupert's Land and its dependencies" has lately been guilty, have
accordingly created a feeling of discontent which, if it could be
freely expressed, would be heard from the shores of the Pacific to

Unfortunately, the Company's servants are so situated, that they dare
not express their sentiments freely. The clerk knows that if he is
heard to utter a word of disapprobation, it is carried to the ears of
his sovereign lord, and his prospects of advancement are marred for
ever; he therefore submits to his grievances in silence. The chief
trader has probably a large family to support, has been thirty or
forty years in the service, and is daily looking forward to the other
step: he too is silent. The chief factor has a situation of importance
in which his vanity is gratified and his comfort secured; to
express his opinion freely might risk the sacrifice of some of these
advantages; so he also swallows the pill without daring to complain of
its bitterness, and is silent.

A very valuable piece of plate was, some years ago, presented to
Sir George by the commissioned gentlemen in the service, as a mark
of respect and esteem; and this circumstance may be adduced by Sir
George's friends, with every appearance of reason, as a proof of his
popularity; but the matter is easily explained. Some two or three
persons who share Sir George's favour, determine among themselves
to present him with some token of their gratitude. They address a
circular on the subject to all the Company's officers, well knowing
that none dare refuse in the face of the whole country to subscribe
their name. The same cogent reasons that suppress the utterance of
discontent compelled the Company's servants to subscribe to this
testimonial; and the subscription list accordingly exhibits, with few
exceptions, the names of every commissioned gentleman in the service;
while two-thirds of them would much rather have withheld their

Sir George owes his ribbon to the successful issue of the Arctic
expedition conducted by Messrs. Dease and Simpson. His share of the
merit consisted in drawing out instructions for those gentlemen,
which occupied about half-an-hour of his time at the desk. It is
quite certain that the expedition owed none of its success to those
instructions. The chief of the party, Mr. Dease, was at least as well
qualified to give as to receive instructions; and Sir George is well
aware of the fact. He knows, too, that Mr. Dease was engaged in
the Arctic expedition under Sir J. Franklin, where he acquired that
experience which brought this important yet hazardous undertaking to
a successful issue; he knows also that in an enterprise of this kind
a thousand contingencies may arise, which must be left entirely to the
judgment of those engaged in it to provide against.

Sir George, nevertheless, obtained the chief honours; but the bauble
perishes with him; while the courage, the energy and the perseverance
of Mr. Dease and his colleague will ever be a subject of admiration to
those who peruse the narrative of their adventures.

Sir George's administration, it is granted, has been a successful
one; yet his own friends will admit that much of this success must
be ascribed to his good fortune rather than to his talents. The
North-West Company had previously reduced the business to a perfect
system, which he had only to follow. It is true he introduced great
economy into every department; but the North-West Company had done
so before him, and the wasteful extravagance which preceded his
appointment was entirely the result of the rivalry between the two
companies, and under any governor whatever would have ceased when the
coalition was effected.

Not a little, too, of Sir George's economy was of "the penny-wise and
pound-foolish" kind. Thus it has been already observed, that the lives
of the Company's servants, and the property of an entire district,
were placed in extreme jeopardy by his false economy; and a
contingency, which no prudent man would have calculated upon,
alone prevented a catastrophe which involved the destruction of the
Company's property to a large amount, as well as of the lives of its
servants. But independently of this, he has committed several errors
of a most serious kind. Of these the chief is the Ungava adventure,
an enterprise which was begun in opposition to the opinion of every
gentleman in the country whose experience enabled him to form a
correct judgment in the matter; and this undertaking was persisted in,
year after year, at an enormous loss to the Company. Finally, he has
not even the merit of correcting his own blunders. It was not till
after a mass of evidence of the strongest kind was laid before the
Committee, that they, in his absence, gave orders for the abandonment
of the hopeless project.

His caprice, his favouritism, his disregard of merit in granting
promotion, it will be allowed, could not have a favourable effect on
the Company's interests. His want of feeling has been mentioned: a
single example of this will close these remarks. A gentleman of high
rank in the service, whose wife was dangerously ill, received orders
to proceed on a journey of nearly 5,000 miles. Aware that his duty
required a prompt obedience to these orders, he set off, taking her
along with him. On arriving at the end of the first stage, she became
worse; and medical assistance being procured, the physicians were of
opinion that in all probability death would be the consequence if he
continued his journey. A certificate to this effect was forwarded to
Sir George. The answer was, that Madame's health must not interfere
with the Company's service; and that he must continue his journey, or
abide the consequences.

In consequence of this delay, he only reached Montreal on the day when
the boats were to leave Lachine for the interior. He hurried to the
office, where he met Sir George, and was received by him with the cool

"You are late, Sir; but if you use expedition you may yet be in time
for the boats."

He earnestly begged for some delay, but in vain. No regard was paid to
his entreaties; and he was obliged to hurry his wife off to Lachine,
and put her on board a common canoe, where there is no accommodation
for a sick person, and where no assistance could be procured, even in
the last extremity.


 |           | SAUTEU, or    |             | BEAVER       |              |
 | ENGLISH.  |  OGIBOIS.     | CREE.       | INDIAN.      | CHIPPEWAYAN. |
 | One       | Pejik         | Pay ak      | It la day    | Ittla h[=e]  |
 | Two       | Neesh         | Neesho      | Onk shay day | Nank hay     |
 | Three     | Nisway        | Nisto       | Ta day       | Ta he        |
 | Four      | Neowin        | Neo         | Dini day     | Dunk he      |
 | Five      | N[=a] nan     | Nay n[=a]   | Tlat zoon e  | Sa soot      |
 |           |               |   nan       |   de ay      |   la he      |
 | Six       | Ni got as way | Nigotwassik | Int zud ha   | L'goot ha hé |
 | Seven     | Nish was      | Tay pa      | Ta e wayt    | Tluz ud      |
 |           |   way         |   goop      |   zay        |   dunk he    |
 | Eight     | Shwas way     | Ea naneo    | Etzud een    | L'goot dung  |
 |           |               |             |   tay        |   he         |
 | Nine      | Sang          | Kay gat me  | Kala gay ne  | Itla ud ha   |
 |           |               |   t[=a] tat |   ad ay      |              |
 | Ten       | Quaitch       | Me ta tat   | Kay nay day  | Hona         |
 | Eleven    | Aji pay jik   | Payak ai    | Tlad ay      | Itla, ja     |
 |           |               |   wak       |   may day    |   idel       |
 | Twelve    | Aji neesh     | Neesh way   | Ong shay day | Nank hay,    |
 |           |               |   ai wok    |   may day    |   ja idel    |
 | Twenty    | Neej ta na    | Neesh       | Ong ka gay   | Ta he, ja    |
 |           |               |   tan ao    |   nay day    |   idel       |
 | Thirty    | Nisway        | Neo         | Tao gay      |              |
 |           |   mittana     |   meatanao  |   nay day    |              |
 | Forty     | Neo mittana   | &c.         | Deo gay      |              |
 |           |               |             |   nay day    |              |
 | Fifty     | Nanan mittana | &c.         |              |              |
 | Sixty     | Nigot asway   |             |              |              |
 |           |   mittana     |             |              |              |
 | Seventy   | Nish was way  |             |              |              |
 |           |   mittana     |             |              |              |
 | Eighty    | Shwas way     |             |              |              |
 |           |   mittana     |             |              |              |
 | Ninety    | Sang mittana  |             |              |              |
 | One       | Ni goot wack  | Me ta tin   | Kay nay tay  | Itla honan   |
 |   hundred |               |   mittanao  |              |   nanana.    |
 | How often | Anin. tas     | Tan mat     | Tan ay tien  | Itla hon     |
 |           |   ink         |   ta to     |              |   eeltay.    |
 | How many  | Anin ain      | Tan ay      | Tan ay       | Itla elday.  |
 |           |   tas ink     |   ta tik    |   tien       |              |
 | How long  | Anapé apin    | Ta ispi     | A shay       | Itla hon     |
 |   since   |   aijo        |   aspin     |   doo yay    |   il tao.    |
 | When      | Anapé         | Ta is pi    | Dee ad       | Itlao.       |
 |           |               |             |   doo yay    |              |
 | To-day    | Nongum        | Anootch kee | Doo jay      | Deerd sin    |
 |           |   kajigack    |   je gak    |   nee ay     |   o gay.     |
 | To-morrow | Wabunk        | Wa bakay    | Ghad ay zay  | Campay.      |
 | Yesterday | Chen[=a]ngo   | Ta goosh    | Ghagh ganno  | Hozud        |
 |           |               |   ick       |              |   singay.    |
 | This year | Nongum egee   | Anootch     | Doo la       | Do uz sin e  |
 |           |   wang        |   egee      |              |   gay.       |
 |           |               |   kee wang  |              |              |
 | This      | Wà á.         | Awa pee     | Teeay tee    | Dirius       |
 |   month   |   Ke[=e]sis   |   shum      |   za         |   a gay.     |
 | A man     | Ininé         | N[=a] bay o | Taz eu       | Dinnay you.  |
 | A woman   | Ikway         | Isk way o   | Iay quay     | Tzay quay.   |
 | A girl    | Ikway says    | Isk way     | Id az oo     | Ed dinna     |
 |           |               |   shish     |              |   gay.       |
 | A boy     | Quee we says  | Na bay      | Taz yuz é    | Dinnay yoo   |
 |           |               |   shish     |              |   azay.      |
 | Inter-    | Oten way ta   | On tway ta  | Nao day ay   | Dinnay tee   |
 |   preter  |   ma gay      |   ma gay o  |              |   ghaltay.   |
 | Trader    | Ata way       | Ataway      | Meeoo tay    | Ma kad ray.  |
 |           |   ini niu     |   ininiu    |              |              |
 | Moose-    | Moze          | Mozwa       | Tlay tchin   | Tunnehee     |
 |   Deer    |               |             |   tay        |   hee.       |
 | Rein-Deer | Attick        | Attick      | May tzee     | Ed hun.      |
 | Beaver    | Amick         | Amisk       | Tza          | Tza.         |
 | Dog       | Ani moosh     | Attim       | Tlee         | Tlee.        |
 | Rabbit    | Waboose       | Waboose     | Kagh         | Kagh.        |
 | Bear      | Maqua         | Masqua      | Zus          | Zus.         |
 | Wolf      | Ma ing an     | Mahigan     | Tshee o nay  | Noo nee yay. |
 | Fox       | Wa goosh      | Ma kay      | E. yay thay  | Nag hee      |
 |           |               |   shish     |              |   dthay.     |
 | I hunt    | Ni ge oz      | Ni m[=a]    | Na o zed     | Naz uz ay.   |
 |           |   ay          |   tchin     |              |              |
 | Thou      | Ki ge oz      | Ki ma tchin | Nodzed       | Nan ul zay.  |
 |   huntest |   ay          |             |              |              |
 | He hunts  | Ge oz ay      | Ma tchio    | Nazin zed    | Nal zay.     |
 | We hunt   | Ni ge oz      | Ni ma       | Naze zedeo   | Na il zay.   |
 |           |   ay min      |   tchinan   |              |              |
 | Ye hunt   | Ki ge         | Ki ma       | Nazin zedeo  | Nal zin      |
 |           |   oz aim      |   tchinawao |              |   al day.    |
 | They hunt | Ge oz ay      | Matchiwog   | Owadié tzed  | Na hal zay.  |
 |           |   wok         |             |              |              |
 | I kill    | Ni ne ta      | Ni mi na    | Uz éay gha   | Zil tir.     |
 |           |   gay         |   hon       |              |              |
 | Thou      | Ki ne ta      | Ki mi na    | Uz éay ghan  | Zil nil tir. |
 |   killest |   gay         |   hon       |              |              |
 | He kills  | Ne ta gay     | Minaho      | Ud zeay gha  | Tla in il    |
 |           |               |             |              |   tir.       |
 | We kill   | Ni ne ta      | Ni mina     | Uz ugho-ghay | Tla in il    |
 |           |   gay min     |   honan     |   uzin       |   dir.       |
 | Ye kill   | Ki ne ta      | Kim in a    | Uz ugho ghay | Zee ool dir. |
 |           |   gaim        |   honawa    |   uzin       |              |
 | They kill | Ne ta         | Minahowog   | Utza ghay    | Tla in       |
 |           |   gay wok     |             |   agho       |   il tay.    |
 | I laugh   | Ni baap       | Ni baap in  | Utzay rad    | Naz-lo.      |
 |           |               |             |   lotsh      |              |
 | Thou      | Ki baap       | Ki baap in  | Utlint lotsh | Na-id-lo.    |
 |  laughest |               |             |              |              |
 | He laughs | Baapé         | Baapio      | Utroz lotsh  | Nad-lo.      |
 | We laugh  | Ni baap       | Ni baap     | Utlo wod     | Tlo          |
 |           |   imin        |   in an     |   lotshay    |  a-ee-el-tee.|
 | Ye laugh  | Ki baapim     | Ki baapin   | Tlodzud      | Tlo gha      |
 |           |               |   a wao     |   udzee      |   ee-ol-tee. |
 | They      | Baap ewog     | Baapiwog    | Tlodzud      | Tlo-gha-     |
 |   laugh   |               |             |   udzee      |   ee-el-tee. |
 | I trade   | Ni da ta      | Ni da d[=a] | Mata oz lay  | Naz nee.     |
 |           |   way         |   wan       |              |              |
 | Thou      | Ki da ta      | Ki da d[=a] | Mata an      | Na el nee.   |
 |   tradest |   way         |   wan       |   eelay      |              |
 | He trades | Ataway        | Atawayo     | Kita od      | Na el nee.   |
 |           |               |             |   eenla      |              |
 | We trade  | Ni da ta      | Nin da t[=a]| Mata ad oz   | Na-da-ell    |
 |           |   way min     |   wan an    |   id la      |   nee.       |
 | Ye trade  | Ki da ta      | Ki da t[=a] | Mata a la    | Na ool nee.  |
 |           |   way min     |   wan o wa  |   ozayo      |              |
 | They trade| A ta way      | Ata way wok | Ma t[=a] a   | Eghon a el   |
 |           |   wok         |             |   leeay la   |   nee.       |
 | I fight   | Ni me gaz     | Ni no ti    | Magad ay a   | Din[=i] gun  |
 |           |               |   ni gan    |              |   as tir.    |
 | Thou      | Ki me gaz     | Ki no ti    | Magad osee   | Dini gun a   |
 |  fightest |               |   ni gan    |   ya la      |   ee dthir   |
 | He fights | Mi gazo       | No ti ni    |  --          |  --          |
 |           |               |   gay o     |              |              |
 | We fight  | Ni me         | Nino ti ni  |  --          |  --          |
 |           |   gazomin     |   g[=a]n an |              |              |
 | Ye fight  | Ki me gazom   | Ki no ti ni |  --          |  --          |
 |           |               |   gan a wao |              |              |
 | They      | Mi guz        | Notini gay  |  --          |  --          |
 |   fight   |   o wog       |   wok       |              |              |
 | I set     | Ni bug-é      | Ni bug-e    | Zoo meet la  | Tloo e       |
 |   a net   |   ta wa       |     ta wan  |   uz loo     |   kanistan.  |
 | Thou      | Ki bug-e      | Ki bug-e    | Too meet     | Tloo é kan   |
 |   settest |   ta wa       |   ta wan    |   lan itlo   |   e than.    |
 |   a net   |               |             |              |              |
 | He sets   | Bug-e ta wa   | Bug-e ta    | Ta eet loon  | Tloo e kan   |
 |   a net   |               |   wao       |              |   ethan loay.|
 | We set    | Ni bug-e ta   | Ni bug-e ta | Ta ghoo loo  | Tloo e kan   |
 |   a net   |   wa min      |   w[=a]nan  |   hoon       |   oodthan.   |
 | Ye set    | Ni bug-é      | Ki bug-e    | Ta ghoo loo  | Tloo e kan   |
 |   a net   |   ta wam      |   ta-wan a  |   uz éo      |   eehtan.    |
 |           |               |   wao       |              |              |
 | They set  | Bug-e ta      | Bug-e-ta-wa | Too milt at  |  --          |
 |   a net   |   w[=a] wog   |   wog       |   la oozoon  |              |
 | I sail    | Ni be mash    | Ni be       |  --          |  --          |
 |           |               |   mashin    |              |              |
 | Thou      | Ki be mash    | Ki be       |  --          |  --          |
 |   sailest |               |   mashin    |              |              |
 | He sails  | Bi mash é     | Be mash eo  |  --          |  --          |
 | We sail   | Ni bi         | Ni bi       |  --          |  --          |
 |           |   mishimin    |   mashinan  |              |              |
 | Ye sail   | Ki bi         | Ki bi mashin|  --          |  --          |
 |           |   mash im     |   a wao     |              |              |
 | They sail | Bi mash       | Be mash     |  --          |  --          |
 |           |   i wog       |   i wog     |              |              |
 | I sleep   | Ni ni b[=a]   | Ni ni ban   | Zus tee ay   | Thee id ghee.|
 | Thou      | Ki ni ba      | Ki ni ban   | Zin tee ay   | Theend ghee. |
 |   sleepest|               |             |              |              |
 | He sleeps | Ni ba         | Ni ba o     | Na gho tee   | Thad ghee.   |
 |           |               |             |   azay       |              |
 | We sleep  | Ni ni b[=a]   | Ni ni b[=a]n| Zut ié tsho  | Theed        |
 |           |   min         |   an        |              |   gh[=a]z    |
 | Ye sleep  | Ki ni bam     | Ki ni ban   | Tsuz ié      | Thood ghaz   |
 |           |               |   [=a] wao  |   tsho       |              |
 | They      | Ni ba wog     | Ni ba wog   | Tsugh ien    | Hay ud       |
 |   sleep   |               |             |   tiez       |   ghaz       |
 | I drink   | Ni minik way  | Ni minik wan| Uzto         | Haysta       |
 | Thou      | Ki minik way  | Ki minik    | Nadho        | Nad-ha       |
 |  drinkest |               |   wan       |              |              |
 | He drinks | Minik way     | Minik way o | Ughiehedo    | Ee ed ha     |
 | We drink  | Ni minik      | Ni minik    | May ee ta    | Heel tell    |
 |           |   way min     |   w[=a]nan  |              |              |
 | Ye drink  | Ki mink waim  | Ki minik    | May lee      | Hool tell    |
 |           |               |   wan[=a]wao|   ta la      |              |
 | They      | Minikway wog  | Minikway wok| May atta     | He el tell   |
 |   drink   |               |             |              |              |
 | I want to | Ni we         | Ni we       | O ghoz to    | Oz ta in     |
 |   drink   |   miniquay    |   miniquan  |              |   is tan     |
 | Drink     | Minik quaine  | Minik quay  | Llhad ho     | Ned ha       |
 | Eat       | Wiss in       | Mee tisso   | In tzits     | Zinhud hee   |
 | Sleep     | Ni b[=a]n     | Ni ba       | Njuz ti ay   | Dthin ghee   |
 | Go away   | Eko k[=a]n    | Awiss tay   | E yow é      | E you        |
 |           |               |             |   tshay      |   issay      |
 | Come here | Undass is     | Ass-tum     | Tee ad zay   | E youk       |
 |           |   han         |             |              |   uz ay      |
 | Tell him  | Win da ma o   | Wi da ma o  | Tee ay tin   | Hal in nee   |
 |           |               |             |   day        |              |
 | Trade     | At[=a]waine   | Ataway      | Tee ay gho   | Na il nee    |
 |           |               |             |   tsho       |              |
 | Whence    | Andé          | Tanté way   | Tee ay ghay  | Ed luzeet    |
 |  do you   |  wentchipai   |    to tay   |   dzin aghon |  gho adzee   |
 |   come?   |  an           |             |   dee ay     |  an adee     |
 | Where     | Andé aish     | Tanté ay to | Tee ay ghay  | Ed luzeet    |
 |  are you  |   [=a]e an    |   tay an    |   de [=a]za  |   hee hee    |
 |   going?  |               |             |              |   ya         |
 | Be quick  | Wee weep é    | Kee-ee pee  | Dzag ghay    | Ee-gha       |
 |           |   tan         |             |              |              |
 | I shoot   | Ni bas giss   | Ni bas giss | A jes tee o  | A yous       |
 |           |   é gay       |   é gan     |              |   kay        |
 | Thou      | Ki bas giss   | Ki bas giss | A tee tshe   | Ahil kay     |
 |   shootest|   é gay       |   é gan     |   etsh       |              |
 | He shoots | B[=a]s giss   | Bas giss    | Agha tee et  | Ahil guth    |
 |           |   e gay       |   e gay-o   |   yetsh      |              |
 | We shoot  | Ni bas gisse  | Ni bas gisse| Ateed yetsh  | Ahel keeth   |
 |           |   gay min     |   g[=a]n an |              |              |
 | Ye        | Ki bas gisse  | Ki bas giss | Atad yetsh   | Er. ool      |
 |   shoot   |   game        |   é gan [=a]|              |   keeth.     |
 |           |               |    wao      |              |              |
 | They      | B[=a]s gisse  | Bas giss é  | Aza du ghad  | Tay ar el    |
 |   shoot   |   gay wog     |   gay wog   |   yetsh      |   keeth.     |
 | A Gun     | B[=a]s gisse  | Bas giss é  | Tié yaz o o  | Tel git      |
 |           |   gan         |   gan       |              |   hay.       |
 | Powder    | Makatay       | Kas. ki tay | Al aizay     | Tel ge       |
 |           |               |   o         |              |   gonna.     |
 | Shot      | She shep ass  | Nisk ass in | Noo tay      | Telt hay.    |
 |           |   nin         |   ee a      |   ad-o o     |              |
 | Give me   | Meesh ish in  | Mee an      | Tes yay      | Daz ee.      |
 | I give    | Ki mee nin    | Ki mee      | Nan uz lay   | Na gha on    |
 |   you     |               |   ni tin    |              |   in in nee. |
 | Look      | In [=a] bin   | Et[=a] bi   | Ag gan eetha | Ghon el lee. |
 | Wait      | Pee ton       | Pay ho      | Ad oog-a.    | Gad day.     |
 | Tobacco   | Na say ma     | Na stay mao | Aday ka yazé | Sel tooe.    |
 | Pipe      | Poagan        | Os poagan   | Tsee ay      | Dthay.       |
 | Net       | Assup         | A he apee   | Too me       | Dtka bill.   |
 | Fish      | Kee k[=o]     | Kee no      | Tloo         | Tloo-ay.     |
 |           |               |   shay o    |              |              |
 | Flesh     | Wee-ass       | Wee ass     | Ad zun       | Berr.        |
 | River     | See pé        | See pé      | Za ghay      | D[=a]z.      |
 | Lake      | Sa ka i gan   | Sa ka i gan | Meet hay     | Nad koo al   |
 |           |               |             |              |   ta.        |
 | Water     | Nee pee       | Nee pee     | Too          | Too.         |
 | Summer    | Nee been      | Nee been    |Ad o lay      | Seen nay.    |
 | Winter    | Pay poon      | Pay pun     | Ealk hay ay  | Gh[=a] e     |
 |           |               |             |              |   yay.       |
 | Spring    | See goan      | Me as gamin | Do o         | Tloo guth.   |
 | Autumn    | Tag w[=a] gin | Tag w[=a]   | Edoo         | Ghao ud      |
 |           |               |   gin       |   aidlosin   |   azay.      |


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