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Title: The "Adventurers of England" on Hudson Bay - A Chronicle of the Fur Trade in the North (Volume 18 of the Chronicles of Canada)
Author: Laut, Agnes C. (Agnes Christina), 1871-1936
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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HUDSON BAY***


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THE 'ADVENTURERS OF ENGLAND' ON HUDSON BAY

       *       *       *       *       *

Chronicles of Canada Series

Thirty-Two Volumes Illustrated

Edited by George M. Wrong and H. H. Langton


Chronicles of Canada Series


PART I THE FIRST EUROPEAN VISITORS

1. THE DAWN OF CANADIAN HISTORY
          By Stephen Leacock.

2. THE MARINER OF ST MALO
          By Stephen Leacock.


PART II THE RISE OF NEW FRANCE

3. THE FOUNDER OF NEW FRANCE*
          By Charles W. Colby.

4. THE BLACKROBES*
          By J. Edgar Middleton.

5. THE SEIGNEURS OF OLD CANADA
          By W. Bennett Munro.

6. THE GREAT INTENDANT
          By Thomas Chapais.

7. THE FIGHTING GOVERNOR*
          By Charles W. Colby.


PART III THE ENGLISH INVASION

8. THE GREAT FORTRESS*
          By William Wood.

9. THE ACADIAN EXILES*
          By Arthur G. Doughty.

10. THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE
          By William Wood.

11. THE WINNING OF CANADA
          By William Wood.


PART IV THE AMERICAN INVASIONS

12. THE INVASION OF 1775*
          By C. Frederick Hamilton.

13. BATTLEFIELDS OF 1812-14*
          By William Wood.


PART V THE RED MAN IN CANADA

14. PONTIAC: THE WAR CHIEF OF THE OTTAWAS*
          By Thomas Guthrie Marquis.

15. BRANT: THE WAR CHIEF OF THE SIX NATIONS
          By Louis Aubrey Wood.

16. TECUMSEH: THE LAST GREAT LEADER OF HIS PEOPLE*
          By Ethel T. Raymond.


PART VI PATHFINDERS AND PIONEERS

17. THE 'ADVENTURERS OF ENGLAND' ON HUDSON BAY
          By Agnes C. Laut.

18. PATHFINDERS OF THE GREAT PLAINS
          By Lawrence J. Burpee.

19. PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST*
          By Agnes C. Laut.

20. ADVENTURERS OF THE FAR NORTH
          By Stephen Leacock.

21. THE UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS
          By W. Stewart Wallace.

22. THE RED RIVER COLONY*
          By Louis Aubrey Wood.

23. THE CARIBOO TRAIL*
          By Agnes C. Laut.


PART VII POLITICAL FREEDOM AND NATIONALITY

24. THE 'FAMILY COMPACT'*
          By W. Stewart Wallace.

25. THE REBELLION IN LOWER CANADA*
          By A. D. DeCelles.

26. THE TRIBUNE OF NOVA SCOTIA*
          By William L. Grant.

27. THE WINNING OF POPULAR GOVERNMENT*
          By Archibald MacMechan.

28. THE FATHERS OF CONFEDERATION*
          By Sir Joseph Pope.

29. THE DAY OF SIR JOHN MACDONALD*
          By Sir Joseph Pope.

30. THE DAY OF SIR WILFRED LAURIER*
          By Oscar D. Skelton.


PART VIII NATIONAL HIGHWAYS

31. ALL AFLOAT
          By William Wood.

32. THE RAILROAD BUILDERS*
          By Oscar D. Skelton.


TORONTO: GLASGOW, BROOK & COMPANY

Note: The volumes marked with an asterisk are in preparation. The others
are published.

       *       *       *       *       *


[Illustration: PRINCE RUPERT From the painting in the National Portrait
 Gallery]


THE 'ADVENTURERS OF ENGLAND' ON HUDSON BAY

A Chronicle of the Fur Trade in the North

by

Agnes C. Laut



[Illustration: Printers mark]


Toronto
Glasgow, Brook & Company
1914

Copyright in all Countries subscribing to
 the Berne Convention



CONTENTS

                                         Page

      I. THE FUR HUNTERS                    1

     II. THE TRAGEDY OF HENRY HUDSON        9

    III. OTHER EXPLORERS ON THE BAY        23

     IV. THE 'ADVENTURERS OF ENGLAND'      34

      V. FRENCH AND ENGLISH ON THE BAY     51

     VI. THE GREAT OVERLAND RAID           73

    VII. YEARS OF DISASTER                 89

   VIII. EXPANSION AND EXPLORATION        103

         BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE             125

         INDEX                            129



ILLUSTRATIONS


   PRINCE RUPERT                         _Frontispiece_
     From the painting in the
     National Portrait Gallery.

                                                 _Page_

   A VIEW OF THE INTERIOR OF OLD FORT                 2
   GARRY
     Drawn by H. A. Strong.

   TRACK SURVEY OF THE SASKATCHEWAN                   4
   BETWEEN CEDAR LAKE AND LAKE
   WINNIPEG

   THE PRINCIPAL POSTS OF THE HUDSON'S                6
   BAY COMPANY
     Map by Bartholomew.

   THE ROUTES OF HUDSON AND MUNCK                    10
     Map by Bartholomew.

   THE LAST HOURS OF HUDSON                          18
     From the painting by Collier.

   JOHN CHURCHILL, FIRST DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH         42
     From the painting in the
     National Portrait Gallery.

   ON THE HAYES RIVER                                58
     From photograph by R. W. Brock.

   ENTRANCE TO THE NELSON AND HAYES                  60
   RIVERS
     Map by Bartholomew.

   A CAMP IN THE SWAMP COUNTRY                      120
     From a photograph.



CHAPTER I

THE FUR HUNTERS


Thirty or more years ago, one who stood at the foot of Main Street,
Winnipeg, in front of the stone gate leading to the inner court of Fort
Garry, and looked up across the river flats, would have seen a
procession as picturesque as ever graced the streets of old Quebec--the
dog brigades of the Hudson's Bay Company coming in from the winter's
hunt.

Against the rolling snowdrifts appeared a line, at first grotesquely
dwarfed under the mock suns of the eastern sky veiled in a soft frost
fog. Then a husky-dog in bells and harness bounced up over the drifts,
followed by another and yet another--eight or ten dogs to each long, low
toboggan that slid along loaded and heaped with peltry. Beside each
sleigh emerged out of the haze the form of the driver--a swarthy fellow,
on snow-shoes, with hair bound back by a red scarf, and corduroy
trousers belted in by another red scarf, and fur gauntlets to his
elbows--flourishing his whip and yelling, in a high, snarling falsetto,
'marche! marche!'--the rallying-cry of the French wood-runner since
first he set out from Quebec in the sixteen-hundreds to thread his way
westward through the wilds of the continent.

Behind at a sort of dog-trot came women, clothed in skirts and shawls
made of red and green blankets; papooses in moss bags on their mothers'
backs, their little heads wobbling under the fur flaps and capotes.
Then, as the dog teams sped from a trot to a gallop with whoops and
jingling of bells, there whipped past a long, low, toboggan-shaped
sleigh with the fastest dogs and the finest robes--the equipage of the
chief factor or trader. Before the spectator could take in any more of
the scene, dogs and sleighs, runners and women, had swept inside the
gate.

[Illustration: A VIEW OF THE INTERIOR OF OLD FORT GARRY Drawn by H. A.
Strong]

At a still earlier period, say in the seventies, one who in summer
chanced to be on Lake Winnipeg at the mouth of the great Saskatchewan
river--which, by countless portages and interlinking lakes, is connected
with all the vast water systems of the North--would have seen the fur
traders sweeping down in huge flotillas of canoes and flat-bottomed
Mackinaw boats--exultant after running the Grand Rapids, where the
waters of the Great Plains converge to a width of some hundred rods and
rush nine miles over rocks the size of a house in a furious cataract.

Summer or winter, it was a life of wild adventure and daily romance.

Here on the Saskatchewan every paddle-dip, every twist and turn of the
supple canoes, revealed some new caprice of the river's moods. In places
the current would be shallow and the canoes would lag. Then the paddlers
must catch the veer of the flow or they would presently be out
waist-deep shoving cargo and craft off sand bars. Again, as at Grand
Rapids, where the banks were rock-faced and sheer, the canoes would run
merrily in swift-flowing waters. No wonder the Indian voyageurs regarded
all rivers as living personalities and made the River Goddess offerings
of tobacco for fair wind and good voyage. And it is to be kept in mind
that no river like the Saskatchewan can be permanently mapped. No map or
chart of such a river could serve its purpose for more than a year.
Chart it to-day, and perhaps to-morrow it jumps its river bed; and
where was a current is now a swampy lake in which the paddlemen may lose
their way.

When the waters chanced to be low at Grand Rapids, showing huge rocks
through the white spray, cargoes would be unloaded and the peltry sent
across the nine-mile portage by tramway; but when the river was high--as
in June after the melting of the mountain snows--the voyageurs were
always keen for the excitement of making the descent by canoe. Lestang,
M'Kay, Mackenzie, a dozen famous guides, could boast two trips a day
down the rapids, without so much as grazing a paddle on the rocks.
Indeed, the different crews would race each other into the very vortex
of the wildest water; and woe betide the old voyageur whose crew failed
of the strong pull into the right current just when the craft took the
plunge! Here, where the waters of the vast prairie region are descending
over huge boulders and rocky islets between banks not a third of a mile
apart, there is a wild river scene. Far ahead the paddlers can hear the
roar of the swirl. Now the surface of the river rounds and rises in the
eddies of an undertow, and the canoe leaps forward; then, a swifter
plunge through the middle of a furious overfall. The steersman rises
at the stern and leans forward like a runner.

[Illustration: TRACK SURVEY of the SASKATCHEWAN between CEDAR LAKE &
LAKE WINNIPEG]

'Pull!' shouts the steersman; and the canoe shoots past one rock to
catch the current that will whirl it past the next, every man bending to
his paddle and almost lifted to his feet. The canoe catches the right
current and is catapulted past the roaring place where rocks make the
water white. Instantly all but the steersman drop down, flat in the
bottom of the canoe, paddles rigid athwart. No need to pull now! The
waters do the work; and motion on the part of the men would be fatal.
Here the strongest swimmer would be as a chip on a cataract. The task
now is not to paddle, but to steer--to keep the craft away from the
rocks. This is the part of the steersman, who stands braced to his
paddle used rudder-wise astern; and the canoe rides the wildest plunge
like a sea-gull. One after another the brigades disappear in a white
trough of spray and roaring waters. They are gone! No human power can
bring them out of that maelstrom! But look! like corks on a wave,
mounting and climbing and riding the highest billows, there they are
again, one after another, sidling and lifting and falling and finally
gliding out to calm water, where the men fall to their paddles and
strike up one of their lusty voyageur songs!

The Company would not venture its peltry on the lower rapid where the
river rushes down almost like a waterfall. Above this the cargoes were
transferred to the portage, and prosaically sent over the hill on a
tram-car pulled by a horse. The men, however, would not be robbed of the
glee of running that last rapid, and, with just enough weight for
ballast in their canoes and boats, they would make the furious descent.

At the head of the tramway on the Grand Rapids portage stands the Great
House, facing old warehouses through which have passed millions of
dollars' worth of furs. The Great House is gambrel-roofed and is built
of heavily timbered logs whitewashed. Round it is a picket fence; below
are wine cellars. It is dismantled and empty now; but here no doubt good
wines abounded and big oaths rolled in the days when the lords of an
unmapped empire held sway.

[Illustration: THE PRINCIPAL POSTS OF THE HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY
Map by Bartholomew.]

A glance at the map of the Hudson's Bay Company's posts will show the
extent of the fur traders' empire. To the Athabaska warehouses at Fort
Chipewyan came the furs of Mackenzie river and the Arctic; to Fort
Edmonton came the furs of the Athabaska and of the Rockies; to Fort Pitt
came the peltry of the Barren Lands; and all passed down the broad
highway of the Saskatchewan to Lake Winnipeg, whence they were sent out
to York Factory on Hudson Bay, there to be loaded on ships and taken to
the Company's warehouses in London.

       *       *       *       *       *

Incidentally, the fur hunters were explorers who had blazed a trail
across a continent and penetrated to the uttermost reaches of a northern
empire the size of Europe. But it was fur these explorers were seeking
when they pushed their canoes up the Saskatchewan, crossed the Rocky
Mountains, went down the Columbia. Fur, not glory, was the quest when
the dog bells went ringing over the wintry wastes from Saskatchewan to
Athabaska, across the Barren Lands, and north to the Arctic. Beaver, not
empire, was the object in view when the horse brigades of one hundred
and two hundred and three hundred hunters, led by Ogden, or Ross, or
M'Kay or Ermatinger went winding south over the mountains from New
Caledonia through the country that now comprises the states of
Washington and Oregon and Idaho, across the deserts of Utah and Nevada,
to the Spanish forts at San Francisco and Monterey. It is a question
whether La Salle could have found his way to the Mississippi, or
Radisson to the North Sea, or Mackenzie to the Pacific, if the little
beaver had not inspired the search and paid the toll.



CHAPTER II

THE TRAGEDY OF HENRY HUDSON


Though the adventurers to Hudson Bay turned to fur trading and won
wealth, and discovered an empire while pursuing the little beaver across
a continent, the beginning of all this was not the beaver, but a
myth--the North-West Passage--a short way round the world to bring back
the spices and silks and teas of India and Japan. It was this quest, not
the lure of the beaver, that first brought men into the heart of New
World wilds by way of Hudson Bay.

In this search Henry Hudson led the way when he sent his little
high-decked oak craft, the _Discovery_, butting through the ice-drive of
Hudson Strait in July of 1610; 'worming a way' through the floes by
anchor out to the fore and a pull on the rope from behind. Smith,
Wolstenholme, and Digges, the English merchant adventurers who had
supplied him with money for his brig and crew, cared for nothing but
the short route to those spices and silks of the orient. They thought,
since Hudson's progress had been blocked the year before in the same
search up the bay of Chesapeake and up the Hudson river, that the only
remaining way must lie through these northern straits. So now thought
Hudson, as the ice jams closed behind him and a clear way opened before
him to the west on a great inland sea that rocked to an ocean tide.

Was that tide from the Pacific? How easily does a wish become father to
the thought! Ice lay north, open water south and west; and so south-west
steered Hudson, standing by the wheel, though Juet, the old mate, raged
in open mutiny because not enough provisions remained to warrant further
voyaging, much less the wintering of a crew of twenty in an ice-locked
world. Henry Greene, a gutter-snipe picked off the streets of London, as
the most of the sailors of that day were, went whispering from man to
man of the crew that the master's commands to go on ought not to be
obeyed. But we must not forget two things when we sit in judgment on
Henry Hudson's crew. First, nearly all sailors of that period were
unwilling men seized forcibly and put on board. Secondly, in those days
nearly all seamen, masters as well as men, were apt to turn pirate at
the sight of an alien sail. The ships of all foreign nations were
considered lawful prey to the mariner with the stronger crew or fleeter
sail.

[Illustration: THE ROUTES OF HUDSON AND MUNCK
Map by Bartholomew.]

The waters that we know to-day as the Pacific were known to Hudson as
the South Sea. And now the tide rolled south over shelving, sandy
shores, past countless islands yellowing to the touch of September
frosts, and silent as death but for the cries of gull, tern, bittern,
the hooting piebald loon, match-legged phalaropes, and geese and ducks
of every hue, collected for the autumnal flight south. It was a
yellowish sea under a sky blue as turquoise; and it may be that Hudson
recalled sailor yarns of China's seas, lying yellow under skies blue as
a robin's egg. At any rate he continued to steer south in spite of the
old mate's mutterings. Men in unwilling service at a few shillings a
month do not court death for the sake of glory. The shore line of rocks
and pine turned westward. So did Hudson, sounding the ship's line as he
crept forward one sail up, the others rattling against the bare masts in
the autumn wind--doleful music to the thoughts of the coward crew. The
shore line at the south end of Hudson Bay, as the world now knows, is
cut sharply by a ridge of swampy land that shoals to muddy flats in
what is known as Hannah Bay.

Hudson's hopes must have been dimmed if not dashed as he saw the western
shore turn north and bar his way. He must suddenly have understood the
force of the fear that his provisions would not last him to England if
this course did not open towards China. It was now October; and the
furious equinoctial gales lashed the shallow sea to mountainous waves
that swept clear over the decks of the _Discovery_, knocking the sailors
from the capstan bars and setting all the lee scuppers spouting. In a
rage Juet threw down his pole and declared that he would serve no
longer. Hudson was compelled to arrest his old mate for mutiny and
depose him with loss of wages. The trial brought out the fact that the
crew had been plotting to break open the lockers and seize firearms. It
must be remembered that most of Hudson's sailors were ragged, under-fed,
under-clothed fellows, ill fitted for the rigorous climate of the north
and unmoved by the glorious aims that, like a star of hope, led Hudson
on. They saw no star of hope, and felt only hunger and cold and that
dislike of the hardships of life which is the birthright of the
weakling, as well as his Nemesis.

What with the north wind driving water back up the shallows, and with
tamarac swamps on the landward side, Hudson deemed it unwise to anchor
for the winter in the western corner of the Bay, and came back to the
waters that, from the description of the hills, may now be identified as
Rupert Bay, in the south-east corner. The furious autumn winds bobbled
the little high-decked ship about on the water like a chip in a
maelstrom, and finally, with a ripping crash that tore timbers asunder,
sent her on the rocks, in the blackness of a November night. The
starving crew dashed up the hatchway to decks glassed with ice and
wrapped in the gloom of a snow-storm thick as wool. To any who have been
on that shore in a storm it is quite unnecessary to explain why it was
impossible to seek safety ashore by lowering a boat. Shallow seas always
beat to wilder turbulence in storm than do the great deeps. Even so do
shallow natures, and one can guess how the mutinous crew, stung into
unwonted fury by cold and despair, railed at Hudson with the rage of
panic-stricken hysteria. But in daylight and calm, presumably on the
morning of November 11, drenched and cold, they reached shore safely,
and knocked together, out of the tamarac and pines and rocks, some
semblance of winter cabins.

Of game there was abundance then, as now--rabbit and deer and grouse
enough to provision an army; and Hudson offered reward for all
provisions brought in. But the leaven of rebellion had worked its
mischief. The men would not hunt. Probably they did not know how.
Certainly none of them had ever before felt such cold as this--cold that
left the naked hand sticking to any metal that it touched, that filled
the air with frost fog and mock suns, that set the wet ship's timbers
crackling every night like musket shots, that left a lining of
hoar-frost and snow on the under side of the berth-beds, that burst the
great pines and fir trees ashore in loud nightly explosions, and set the
air whipping in lights of unearthly splendour that passed them moving
and rustling in curtains of blood and fire.[1] As anyone who has lived
in the region knows, the cowardly incompetents should have been up and
out hunting and wresting from nature the one means of protection against
northern cold--fur clothing. That is the one demand the North makes of
man--that he shall fight and strive for mastery; but these whimpering
weaklings, convulsed with the poison of self-pity, sat inside shivering
over the little pans and braziers of coal, cursing and cursing Hudson.

In the midst of the smouldering mutiny the ship's gunner died, and
probably because the gutter boy, Greene, was the most poorly clad of
all, Hudson gave the dead man's overcoat to the London lad. Instantly
there was wild outcry from the other men. It was customary to auction a
dead seaman's clothes from the mainmast. Why had the commander shown
favour? In disgust Hudson turned the coat over to the new mate--thereby
adding fresh fuel to the crew's wrath and making Greene a real source of
danger. Greene was, to be sure, only a youth, but small snakes sometimes
secrete deadly venom.

How the winter passed there is no record, except that it was 'void of
hope'; and one may guess the tension of the sulky atmosphere. The old
captain, with his young son, stood his ground against the mutineers,
like a bear baited by snapping curs. If they had hunted half as
diligently as they snarled and complained, there would have been ample
provisions and absolute security; and this statement holds good of more
complainants against life than Henry Hudson's mutinous crew. It holds
good of nearly all mutineers against life.

Spring came, as it always comes in that snow-washed northern land, with
a ramp of the ice loosening its grip from the turbulent waters, and a
whirr of the birds winging north in long, high, wedge-shaped lines, and
a crunching of the icefloes riding turbulently out to sea, and a piping
of the odorous spring winds through the resinous balsam-scented woods.
Hudson and the loyal members of the crew attempted to replenish
provisions by fishing. Then a brilliant thought penetrated the wooden
brains of the idle and incompetent crew--a thought that still works its
poison in like brains of to-day--namely, if there were half as many
people there would be twice as much provisions for each.

Ice out, anchor up, the gulls and wild geese winging northward
again--all was ready for sail on June 18, 1611. With the tattered canvas
and the seams tarred and the mends in the hull caulked, Hudson handed
out all the bread that was left--a pound to each man.

He had failed to find the North-West Passage. He was going home a
failure, balked, beaten, thrown back by the waves that had been beating
the icefloes to the mournful call of the desolate wind all winter.
There were tears in the eyes of the old captain as he handed out the
last of the bread. Any one who has watched what snapping mongrels do
when the big dog goes down, need not be told what happened now. There
were whisperings that night as the ship slipped before the wind,
whisperings and tale-bearings from berth to berth, threats uttered in
shrill scared falsetto 'to end it or to mend it; better hang at home for
mutiny than starve at sea.' Prickett, the agent for the merchant
adventurers, pleaded for Hudson's life; the mutineers, led by Juet and
Greene, roughly bade him look to his own. Prickett was ill in bed with
scurvy, and the tremor of self-fear came into his plea. Then the
mutineers swore on the Bible that what they planned was to sacrifice the
lives of the few to save the many. When the destroyer profanes the Cross
with unclean perjury, 'tis well to use the Cross for firewood and
unsheath a sword. Peevish with sickness, Prickett punily acquiesced.

When Hudson stepped from the wheel-house or cabin next morning, they
leaped upon him like a pack of wolves. No oaths on Scripture and Holy
Cross this break of day! Oaths of another sort--oaths and blows and
railings--all pretence of clean motives thrown off--malice with its
teeth out snapping! Somewhere north of Rupert, probably off Charlton
Island, Hudson, his son, and eight loyal members of the crew were thrown
into one of the boats on the davits. The boat was lowered on its pulleys
and touched sea. The _Discovery_ then spread sail and sped through open
water to the wind. The little boat with the marooned crew came climbing
after. Somebody threw into it some implements and ammunition, and some
one cut the painter. The abandoned boat slacked and fell back in the
wave wash; and that is all we know of the end of Henry Hudson, who had
discovered a northern sea, the size of a Mediterranean, that was to be a
future arena of nations warring for an empire, and who had before
discovered a river that was to be a path of world commerce.

[Illustration: THE LAST HOURS OF HUDSON From the painting by Collier]

What became of Hudson? A famous painting represents him, with his little
son and the castaway crew, huddling among the engulfing icebergs. That
may have been; but it is improbable that the dauntless old pathfinder
would have succumbed so supinely. Three traditions, more or less
reasonable, exist about his end. When Captain James came out twenty
years later seeking the North-West Passage he found on a little
island (Danby), south-east from Charlton Island, a number of sticks
standing in the ground, with the chip marks of a steel blade. Did the
old timbers mark some winter house of Hudson and his castaways? When
Radisson came cruising among these islands fifty years later, he
discovered an old house 'all marked and battered with bullets'; and the
Indians told Radisson stories of 'canoes with sails' having come to the
Bay. Had Indians, supplied with firearms overland from Quebec traders,
assailed that house where nine white men, standing at bay between
starvation and their enemies, took their last stand? The third tradition
is of a later day. A few years ago a resident of Fort Frances, who had
spent the summer at the foot of James Bay, and who understood the Indian
language, wrote that the Indians had told him legends of white men who
had come to the Bay long long ago, before ever 'the Big Company came,'
and who had been cast away by their fellows, and who came ashore and
lived among the Indians and took Indian wives and left red-haired
descendants. It is probable that fur traders had told the Indians the
story of Hudson; and this would explain the origin of this tradition. On
the other hand, in a race utterly isolated from the outside world,
among whom neither printing nor telegraph ever existed, traditions
handed down from father to son acquire peculiar value; and in them we
can often find a germ of truth. The legends are given for what they are
worth.

There is no need to relate the fate of the mutineers. The fate of
mutineers is the same the world over. They quarrelled among themselves.
They lost themselves among the icefloes. When they found their way back
through the straits all provisions were exhausted. While they were
prisoners in the icefloes, scurvy assailed the crew. Landing to gather
sorrel grass as an antidote to scurvy, they were attacked by Eskimos.
Only four men were left to man the ship home, and they were reduced to a
diet of sea moss and offal before reaching Ireland. Greene perished
miserably among the Indians, and his body was thrown into the sea. Old
Juet died of starvation in sight of Ireland, raving impotent curses. But
however dire Nemesis may be, or however deep may be repentance, neither
undoes the wrong; and Hudson had gone to his unknown grave, sent thither
by imbeciles, who would not work that they might eat, nor strive that
they might win, but sat crouching, as their prototypes sit, ready to
spring at the throat of Endeavour.

Thomas Button, afterwards knighted for his effort, came out the very
next year at the expense of the merchant adventurers--Walstenholme,
Smith, and Digges--to search for Hudson. He wintered (1612-13) at Port
Nelson, which he explored and named after his mate, who died there of
scurvy; but the sea gave up no secret of its dead. Prickett and Bylot,
of Hudson's former crew, were there also with the old ship _Discovery_
and a large frigate called _Resolution_, an appropriate name. Button's
crew became infected with scurvy, and Port Nelson a camp for the dead.
Then came Captain Gibbon in 1614; but the ice caught him at Labrador and
turned him back. The merchant adventurers then fitted out Bylot,
Hudson's second mate, and in 1615-16 he searched the desolate, lonely
northern waters. He found no trace of Hudson, nor a passage to the South
Sea; but he gave his mate's name--Baffin--to the lonely land that lines
the northern side of the straits. Novelists are frequently accused of
sensationalism and exaggeration, but if, as tradition seems to suggest,
Hudson were still alive seven hundred miles south at the lower end of
the Bay, straining vain eyes for a sail at sea, like Alexander Selkirk
of a later day--with a Button and a Gibbon and a Bylot and a Baffin
searching for him with echoing cannon roll and useless call in the
north--then the life and death of the old pathfinder are more like a
tale from Defoe than a story of real life.

The English merchant adventurers then gave up--possibly for the very
good reason that they had emptied their purses. This brings us to the
year 1617 with no North-West Passage discovered, and very little other
reward for the toll of life and heroism during seven years.

Superficially, when we contemplate such failure, it looks like the
broken arc of a circle; but when we find the whole circle we see that it
is made up very largely of broken endeavour, and that Destiny has shaped
the wheel to roll to undreamed ends. There was no practicable North-West
Passage, as we know; but the search for such a passage gave to the world
a new empire.



CHAPTER III

OTHER EXPLORERS ON THE BAY


Little Denmark, whose conquering Vikings on their 'sea horses' had
scoured the coasts of Europe, now comes on the scene. Hudson, an
Englishman, had discovered the Bay, but the port of Churchill, later to
become an important post of the fur trade, was discovered by Jens Munck,
the Dane. In the autumn of 1619 Munck came across the Bay with two
vessels--the UNICORN, a warship with sea horses on its carved prow, and
the LAMPREY, a companion sloop--scudding before an equinoctial squall.
Through a hurricane of sleet he saw what appeared to be an inlet between
breakers lashing against the rocky west shore. Steering the UNICORN for
the opening, he found himself in a land-locked haven, protected from the
tidal bore by a ridge of sunken rock. The LAMPREY had fallen behind, but
fires of driftwood built on the shore guided her into the harbour, and
Munck constructed an ice-break round the keels of his ships. Piles of
rocks sunk as a coffer-dam protected the boats from the indrive of tidal
ice; and the Danes prepared to winter in the new harbour. To-day there
are no forests within miles of Churchill, but at that time pine woods
crowded to the water's edge, and the crews laid up a great store of
firewood. With rocks, they built fireplaces on the decks--a paltry
protection against the northern cold. Later explorers wintering at
Churchill boarded up their decks completely and against the boarding
banked snow, but this method of preparation against an Arctic winter was
evidently unknown to the Danes.

By November every glass vessel on the ships had been broken to splinters
by the frost. In the lurid mock suns and mock moons of the frost fog the
superstitious sailors fancied that they saw the ominous sign of the
Cross, portending disaster. One of the surgeons died of exposure, and
within a month all the crew were prostrate with scurvy. With the
exception, perhaps, of Bering's voyage a hundred years later, the record
of Munck's wintering is one of the most lamentable in all American
exploration. 'Died this day my Nephew, Eric Munck,' wrote the captain on
April 1 of 1620, 'and was buried in the same grave as my second mate.
Great difficulty to get coffins made. May 6--The bodies of the dead lie
uncovered because none of us has strength to bury them.'

By June the ships had become charnel-houses. Two men only, besides
Munck, had survived the winter. When the ice went out with a rush and a
grinding, and the ebb tide left the flats bare, wolves came nightly,
sniffing the air and prowling round the ships' exposed keels. 'As I have
no more hope of life in this world,' wrote Jens Munck, 'herewith
good-night to all the world and my soul to God.' His two companions had
managed to crawl down the ship's ladder and across the flats, where they
fell ravenously on the green sprouting sorrel grass and sea nettles. As
all northerners know, they could have eaten nothing better for scurvy.
Forthwith their malady was allayed. In a few days they came back for
their commander. By June 26 all three had recovered.

The putrid dead were thrown into the river. Ballast and cargo were then
cast out. It thus happened that when the tide came in, the little sloop
_Lamprey_ lifted and floated out to sea. Munck had drilled holes in the
hull of the _Unicorn_ and sunk her with all her freight till he could
come back with an adequate crew; but he never returned. War broke out in
Europe, and Munck went to his place in the Danish Navy.

Meanwhile Indians had come down to what they henceforth called the River
of the Strangers. When the tide went out they mounted the _Unicorn_ and
plundered her of all the water-soaked cargo. In the cargo were
quantities of powder. A fire was kindled to dry the booty. At once a
consuming flame shot into the air, followed by a terrific explosion; and
when the smoke cleared neither plunder nor plunderers nor ship remained.
Eighty years afterwards the fur traders dug from these river flats a
sunken cannon stamped C 4--Christian IV--and thus established the
identity of Munck's winter quarters as Churchill harbour.

Munck was not the last soldier of fortune to essay passage to China
through the ice-bound North Sea. Captain Fox of Hull and Captain James
of Bristol came out in 1631 on separate expeditions, 'itching,' as Fox
expressed it, to find the North-West Passage. Private individuals had
fitted out both expeditions. Fox claimed the immediate patronage of the
king; James came out under the auspices of the city of Bristol. Sailing
the same week, they did not again meet till they were south of Port
Nelson in the autumn, when Fox dined with James and chaffed him about
his hopes to 'meet the Emperor of Japan.' But there was no need of
rivalry; both went back disappointed men. James wintered on Charlton
Island, and towards the end of 1632, after a summer's futile cruising,
returned to England with a terrible tale of bootless suffering.

       *       *       *       *       *

While England sought a short route to China by Hudson Bay, and the
Spaniards were still hoping to find a way to the orient by the Gulf of
Mexico and California, New France had been founded, and, as we may learn
from other narratives in this series, her explorers had not been idle.

In the year 1660 two French pathfinders and fur traders, Medard Chouart
des Groseilliers and Pierre Esprit Radisson, men of Three Rivers, came
back from the region west of Lake Superior telling wondrous tales of a
tribe of Indians they had met--a Cree nation that passed each summer on
the salt waters of the Sea of the North. The two fur traders were
related, Radisson's sister having married Groseilliers, who was a
veteran of one of the Jesuit missions on Lake Huron. Radisson himself,
although the hero of many exploits, was not yet twenty-six years of age.
Did that Sea of the North of which they had heard find western outlet by
the long-sought passage? So ran rumour and conjecture concerning the two
explorers in Three Rivers and Quebec; but Radisson himself writes: 'We
considered whether to reveal what we had learned, for we had not yet
been to the Bay of the North, knowing only what the Crees told us. We
wished to discover it ourselves before revealing anything.'

In the execution of their bold design to journey to the North Sea,
Radisson and Groseilliers had to meet the opposition of the Jesuits and
the governor--the two most powerful influences in New France. The
Jesuits were themselves preparing for an expedition overland to Hudson
Bay and had invited Radisson to join their company going by way of the
Saguenay; but he declined, and they left without him. In June 1661 the
Jesuits--Fathers Dreuilletes and Dablon--ascended the Saguenay, but they
penetrated no farther than a short distance north of Lake St John, where
they established a mission.

The fur trade of New France was strictly regulated, and severe
punishments were meted out to those who traded without a licence.
Radisson and Groseilliers made formal application to the governor for
permission to trade on the Sea of the North. The governor's answer was
that he would give the explorers a licence if they would take with them
two of his servants and give them half the profits of the undertaking.
The two explorers were not content with this proposal and were forbidden
to depart; but in defiance of the governor's orders they slipped out
from the gates of Three Rivers by night and joined a band of Indians
bound for the northern wilds.

The two Frenchmen spent the summer and winter of 1661-62 in hunting with
the Crees west of Lake Superior, where they met another tribe of
Indians--the Stone Boilers, or Assiniboines--who also told them of the
great salt water, or Sea of the North. In the spring of 1662, with some
Crees of the hinterland, they set out in canoes down one of the
rivers--Moose or Abitibi--leading to Hudson Bay. Radisson had sprained
his ankle; and the long portages by the banks of the ice-laden,
rain-swollen rivers were terrible. The rocks were slippery as glass with
ice and moss. The forests of this region are full of dank heavy
windfall that obstructs the streams and causes an endless succession of
swamps. In these the paddlers had to wade to mid-waist, 'tracking' their
canoes through perilous passage-way, where the rip of an upturned branch
might tear the birch from the bottom of the canoe. When the swamps
finally narrowed to swift rivers, blankets were hoisted as sails, and
the brigade of canoes swept out to the sandy sea of Hudson Bay. 'We were
in danger to perish a thousand times from the ice,' Radisson writes,
'but at last we came full sail from a deep bay to the seaside, where we
found an old house all demolished and battered with bullets. The Crees
told us about Europeans. We went from isle to isle all that summer in
the Bay of the North. We passed the summer coasting the seaside.'

Had Radisson found Hudson Bay? Some historians dispute his claims; but
even if his assertion that he sailed 'from isle to isle' during the
summer of 1662 be challenged, the fact that his companion, Groseilliers,
knew enough of the Bay to enable him six years later to guide a ship
round by sea to 'a rendezvous' on the Rupert river must be accepted.

The only immediate results of the discovery to Radisson and Groseilliers
were condign punishment, disgrace, and almost utter ruin. When they came
back to the St Lawrence in the summer of 1663 with several hundred
Indians and a flotilla of canoes swarming over the surface of the river
below the heights of Quebec, and conveying a great cargo of beaver
skins, the avaricious old governor affected furious rage because the two
traders had broken the law by going to the woods without his permission.
The explorers were heavily fined, and a large quantity of their beaver
was seized to satisfy the revenue tax. Of the immense cargo brought
down, Radisson and Groseilliers were permitted to keep only a small
remainder.

Groseilliers sailed for France to appeal to the home authorities for
redress, but the friends of the governor at the French court proved too
strong for him and nothing was done. He then tried to interest merchants
of Rochelle in an expedition to Hudson Bay by sea, and from one of them
he obtained a vague promise of a ship for the following year. It was
agreed that in the following spring Radisson and Groseilliers should
join this ship at Isle Percé at the mouth of the St Lawrence. So it
happened that, in the spring of 1664, the two explorers, having
returned to Three Rivers, secretly took passage in a fishing schooner
bound for Anticosti, whence they went south to Isle Percé to meet the
ship they expected from Rochelle. But again they were to be
disappointed; a Jesuit just out from France informed them that no ship
would come. What now should the explorers do? They could not go back to
Three Rivers, for their attempt to make another journey without a
licence rendered them liable to punishment. They went to Cape Breton,
and from there to the English at Port Royal in Nova Scotia.

At Port Royal they found a Boston captain, Zachariah Gillam, who plied
in vessels to and fro from the American Plantations to England. Gillam
offered his vessel for a voyage to Hudson Bay; but the season was late,
and when the vessel reached the rocky walls of Labrador the captain lost
heart and refused to enter the driving straits. The ship returned and
landed the explorers in Boston. They then clubbed the last of their
fortunes together and entered into an agreement with shipowners of
Boston to take two ships to Hudson Bay on their own account in the
following spring. But, while fishing to obtain provisions for the
voyage, one of the vessels was wrecked, and, instead of sailing for the
North Sea, Radisson and Groseilliers found themselves in Boston involved
in a lawsuit for the value of the lost ship. When they emerged from this
they were destitute.



CHAPTER IV

THE 'ADVENTURERS OF ENGLAND'


In Boston the commissioners of His Majesty King Charles II were
reviewing the affairs of the American Plantations. One of the
commissioners was Sir George Carteret, and when he sailed for England in
August 1665 he was accompanied by the two French explorers. It gives one
a curiously graphic insight into the conditions of ocean travel in those
days to learn that the royal commissioner's ship was attacked, boarded,
and sunk by a Dutch filibuster. Carteret and his two companions landed
penniless in Spain, but, by pawning clothes and showing letters of
credit, they reached England early in 1666. At this time London was in
the ravages of the Great Plague, and King Charles had sought safety from
infection at Oxford. Thither Radisson and Groseilliers were taken and
presented to the king; and we may imagine how their amazing stories of
adventure beguiled his weary hours. The jaded king listened and
marvelled, and ordered that forty shillings a week should be paid to the
two explorers during that year.

As soon as it was safe to return to London--some time in the winter of
1667-68--a group of courtiers became interested in the two Frenchmen,
and forgathered with them frequently at the Goldsmiths' hall, or at
Whitehall, or over a sumptuous feast at the Tun tavern or the Sun
coffee-house. John Portman, a goldsmith and alderman, is ordered to pay
Radisson and Groseilliers £2 to £4 a month for maintenance from December
1667. When Portman is absent the money is paid by Sir John Robinson,
governor of the Tower, or Sir John Kirke--with whose family young
Radisson seems to have resided and whose daughter Mary he married a few
years later--or Sir Robert Viner, the lord mayor, or Mr Young, a
fashionable man about town. No formal organization or charter yet
exists, but it is evident that the gentlemen are bent on some
enterprise, for Peter Romulus is engaged as surgeon and Thomas Gorst as
secretary. Gillam of Boston is hired as captain, along with a Captain
Stannard. At a merry dinner of the gay gentlemen at the Exchange,
Captain Gillam presents a bill of five shillings for 'a rat-catcher'
for the ships. Wages of seamen are set down at £20 per voyage; and His
Most Gracious Majesty, King Charles, gives a gold chain and medal to the
two Frenchmen and recommends them to 'the Gentlemen Adventurers of
Hudson's Bay.' Moreover, there is a stock-book dated this year showing
amounts paid in by or credited to sundry persons, among whom are: Prince
Rupert, James, Duke of York, the Duke of Albemarle, the Earl of Craven,
the Earl of Arlington, the Earl of Shaftesbury, Sir John Robinson, Sir
Robert Viner, Sir Peter Colleton, Sir James Hayes, Sir John Kirke, and
Lady Margaret Drax. Who was the fair and adventurous Lady Margaret Drax?
Did she sip wines with the gay adventurers over 'the roasted pullets' of
the Tun tavern, or at the banquet table at Whitehall?

Then His Majesty the King writes to his 'trusty and Well Beloved
Brother,' James, Duke of York, recommending the loan of the Admiralty
ship, the _Eaglet_, to the two Frenchmen to search for a North-West
Passage by way of Hudson Bay, the ship 'to be rigged and victualled' at
the charge of 'Dear Cousin Rupert' and his friends Carteret and
Albemarle and Craven _et al_. The 'Well Beloved Brother' passes the
order on to Prince Rupert, 'our Dear Cousin'; and the 'Dear Cousin'
transmits instructions to Sir James Hayes, his secretary. Sir James
badgers the Admiralty Board, and in due time the _Eaglet_ is handed over
to Captain Stannard, acting under Radisson. Gillam takes his own
plantation ship, the _Nonsuch_, under orders from Groseilliers.

The instructions to the captains are signed by Prince Rupert, Craven,
Hayes, Albemarle, Carteret, Colleton, and Portman. These instructions
bid the captains convey the vessels to the place where 'the rendezvous
was set up as Mr Gooseberry and Mr Radisson direct, there to raise
fortifications,' having 'in thought the discovery of a passage to the
South Sea under direction of Mr Gooseberry and Radisson,' and to
prosecute trade always under directions of Mr Gooseberry and Mr
Radisson, and to have 'a particular [_sic_] respect unto them with all
manner of civility and courtesy.'

Dear old Company! From its very origin it conformed to the canons of
gentlemanly conduct and laid more emphasis on courtesy than on spelling.
Those curious instructions were indicative of its character in later
times. But we quite understand that there was other object in that
voyage than the North-West Passage.

The two ships sailed for Hudson Bay in the spring of 1668. In mid-ocean
they were driven apart by storms. Gillam's _Nonsuch_ with Groseilliers
went on, but the _Eaglet_ with Radisson was disabled and forced to
return, and the season was now too late to permit Radisson to set sail
again until the following spring.

During the interval of enforced idleness Radisson seems to have
diligently courted Mary Kirke, the daughter of Sir John, and to have
written the account of his journeys through the wilds of America. It is
possible that Radisson was inspired to write these journals by Pepys,
the celebrated diarist, who was at this time chief clerk of the
Admiralty, and who lived next door to the Kirkes on Tower Hill. At any
rate it is clear that the journals fell into Pepys' hands, for they were
found two hundred years later in the Pepys collection at the Bodleian
Library.

In the spring of 1669, on the recommendation of the king, the Admiralty
lent the ship _Wavero_ to the adventurers that Radisson might sail to
Hudson Bay. In his eagerness Radisson set out too early. For a second
time he was driven back by storm, but, on coming in to harbour at
Gravesend, what was his delight to find the _Nonsuch_ back from Hudson
Bay with Groseilliers and Gillam and such a cargo of furs from the
Rupert river as English merchants had never before dreamed!

The _Nonsuch_ had reached Hudson Strait in August of the year before,
and the captain, guided by Groseilliers, had steered south for 'the
rendezvous' at the lower end of the Bay, where the two French explorers
had set up their marks six years before. There, at the mouth of the
river named Rupert in honour of their patron prince, the traders cast
anchor on September 25. At high tide they beached the ship and piled
logs round her to protect her timbers from ice jams. Then they built a
fort, consisting of two or three log huts for winter quarters, enclosed
in a log palisade. This they named Fort Charles. The winter that
followed must have been full of hardship for the Englishmen, but a
winter on the Bay had no terrors for Groseilliers. While Gillam and the
Englishmen kept house at the fort, he coursed the woods on snow-shoes,
found the Indian camps, and persuaded the hunters to bring down their
furs to trade with him in the spring. Then, when the wild geese darkened
the sky and the ice went out with a rush, preparations were made for
the homeward voyage. In June the ship sailed out of the Bay and, as we
have seen, had docked at Gravesend on the Thames while the _Wavero_ with
Radisson was coming back.

The adventurers lost no time. That winter they applied for a charter,
and in May 1670 the charter was granted by King Charles to '_The
Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's
Bay_.' The ostensible object was to find the North-West Passage; and to
defray the cost of that finding a monopoly in trade for all time was
given.

Whereas, declares the old charter, these have at their own great cost
and charge undertaken an expedition to Hudson Bay for the discovery of a
new passage to the South Sea and for trade, and have humbly besought the
king to grant them and their successors the whole trade and commerce of
all those seas, straits, bays, rivers, creeks, and sounds in whatever
latitude that lie within the entrance of the straits, together with all
the lands, countries, and territories upon the coasts and confines of
the seas, straits, bays, lakes, rivers, creeks, and sounds not now
actually possessed by any other Christian state, be it known by these
presents that the king has given, granted, ratified, and confirmed the
said grant. The adventurers are free to build forts, employ a navy, use
firearms, pass and enforce laws, hold power of life and death over their
subjects. They are granted, not only the whole, entire, and only liberty
of trade to and from the territories aforesaid, but also the whole and
entire trade to and from nations adjacent to the said territories, and
entrance by water or land in and out of the said territories.

The monopoly could hardly have been made more sweeping. If the
adventurers found other territory westward, such territory was to be
theirs. Other traders were forbidden to encroach on the region. People
were forbidden to inhabit the countries without the consent of the
Company. The Company was empowered to make war for the benefit of trade.
The charter meant, in a word, the establishment of pure feudalism over a
vast region in America. But in the light of the Company's record it may
be questioned whether feudalism was not, after all, the best system for
dealing with the Indian races. For two centuries under the Company's
rule the Indians were peaceable; while in other parts of America, under
a system the opposite of feudalism--the come-who-may-and-take-who-can
policy of the United States--every step forward taken by the white race
was marked by 'bloody ground.'

Absolutism, pomp, formality, and, let it be added, a sense of personal
responsibility for retainers--all characteristics of feudalism--marked
the rule of the Hudson's Bay Company from the beginning. The adventurers
were not merely merchants and traders; they were courtiers and princes
as well. Rupert, a prince of royal blood, was the first governor; James,
Duke of York, afterwards king, was the second, and Lord Churchill,
afterwards the Duke of Marlborough, the third. The annual meetings of
shareholders in November and the periodic meetings of the Governing
Committee were held at Whitehall, or at the Tower, or wherever the court
chanced to be residing. All shareholders had to take an oath of fidelity
and secrecy: _'I doe sweare to bee True and faithful to ye Comp'y of
Adventurers: ye secrets of ye said Comp'y I will not disclose, nor trade
to ye limitts of ye said Comp'y's charter. So help me God.'_ Oaths of
fidelity and bonds were required from all captains, traders, and
servants. Presents of 'catt skin counterpanes for his bedd,' 'pairs of
beaver stockings for ye King.' 'gold in a faire embroidered purse,'
'silver tankards,' 'a hogshead of claret,' were presented to
courtiers and friends who did the Company a good turn. Servants were
treated with a paternal care. Did a man lose a toe on some frosty
snow-shoe tramp, the Governing Committee solemnly voted him '£4 smart
money,' or '£1 for a periwig,' or '£10 a year pension for life.' No
matter to what desperate straits the Company was reduced, it never
forgot a captain who had saved a cargo from raid, or the hero of a
fight, or a wood-runner who had carried trade inland. For those who died
in harness, 'funeral by torch-light and linkmen [torchbearers] to St
Paul's, Company and crew marching in procession, cost not to exceed
£20'; and though the cost might run up higher, it was duly paid, as in
one instance on record when the good gentlemen at the funeral had '2
pullets and a dozen bottles of sack' over it at the Three Tuns.

[Illustration: JOHN CHURCHILL, FIRST DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH From the
painting in the National Portrait Gallery]

Perhaps the gay gentlemen of the Governing Committee made merry too long
at times, for it appears to have been necessary to impose a fine on all
committee men who did not attend 'yt one hour after ye deputy-governor
turns up ye hour glass,' the fines to go to the Poor Box as 'token of
gratitude for God's so great a blessing to ye Comp'y.'

In February the Governing Committee was always in a great bustle
chartering or buying frigates for the year's voyages. Then the goods for
trade, to be exchanged with the Indians for furs, were chosen and
stored. In the list for 1672 are found '200 fowling pieces and 400
powder horns and 500 hatchets.' Gewgaws, beads, ribbons, and blankets
innumerable were taken on the voyages, and always more or less liquor;
but the latter, it should be remarked, was not traded to the Indians
except in times of keen competition, when the Company had to fight
rivals who used it in trade. Secret orders were given to the captains
before sailing. These orders contained the harbour signals. Ships not
displaying these signals were to be fired on by the forts of Hudson Bay
or lured to wreck by false lights. The sailing orders were always signed
'a God speede, a good wind, a faire saile, y'r loving friends'; and the
gentlemen of the Committee usually went down to the docks at Gravesend
to search lockers for illicit trade, to shake hands and toss a sovereign
and quaff drinks. From the point where a returning ship was 'bespoken'
the chief trader would take horse and ride post-haste to London with the
bills and journals of the voyage. These would be used to check
unlading. Next, the sorting of the furs, the payment of the seamen's
wages--about £20 per year to each man; then the public auction of the
furs. A pin would be stuck in a lighted candle and bids received till
the light burnt below the pin. Sack and canary and claret were served
freely at the sales. Money accruing from sales was kept in an iron box
at the Goldsmiths' exchange, and later in the warehouse in Fenchurch
Street.

Trading in the early days was conducted with a ceremony such as kings
might have practised in international treaty. Dressed in regimentals,
with coloured velvet capes lined with silk, swords clanking, buglers and
drummers rattling a tattoo, the white trader walked out to meet the
Indian chief. The Indian prostrated himself and presented the kingly
white man with priceless furs. The white man kneeled and whiffed pipes
and thanked the Sun for the privilege of meeting so great warriors, and
through his interpreters begged to present the Great Chief with what
would render him invincible among all foes--firearms. Then with much
parleying the little furs such as rabbit and muskrat were exchanged for
the gewgaws.

Later, the coming of rival traders compelled the Company to change its
methods and to fix a standard of trade. This standard varied with the
supply of furs and the caprice of fashion; but at first in respect to
beaver it stood thus:

  1/2 lb.    beads        1  beaver.
    1        kettle       1    "
    1 lb.    shot         1    "
    5 lbs.   sugar        1    "
    1 lb.    tobacco      1    "
    1 gal.   brandy       4    "
    2        awls         1    "
   12        buttons      1    "
   20        fish-hooks   1    "
   20        flints       1    "
    1        gun         12    "
    1        pistol       4    "
    8        balls        1    "

A wicket would be opened at the side of the main gate of the fort. Up to
this wicket the Indians would file with their furs and exchange them
according to the standard. Tally was kept at first with wampum shells or
little sticks; then with bits of lead melted from teachests and stamped
with the initials of the fort. Finally these devices were supplanted by
modern money. We may suppose that the red man was amply able to take
care of himself in the trade, especially when rivals at other points
were bidding for the furs. If the white man's terms were exorbitant and
no rival trader was within reach, the Indian's remedy was a scalping
foray. Oftener than not the Indian was in debt for provisions advanced
before the hunt. If the Indian forgot his debt or carried his fur to a
competitor, as he often did in whole flotillas, the white man would have
his revenge some season when food was scarce; or, if his physical
prowess permitted, he would take his revenge on the spot by
administering a sound thrashing to the transgressor. It is on record
that one trader, in the early days of Moose Factory, broke an oar while
chastising an Indian who had failed in his duty.

Many of the lonely bachelors at the forts contracted marriage with
native women. These marriages were entered on the books of the Company,
and were considered as valid as if bound by clergy. Sometimes they led
to unhappy results. When men returned from the service, the Indian wife,
transplanted to England, lived in wretched loneliness; and the
children--'les petits,' as they are entered in the books--were still
less at home amid English civilization. Gradually it became customary to
leave the Indian women in their native land and to support them with a
pension deducted from the wages of the retired husband and father. This
pension was assured by the Company's system of holding back one-third of
its servants' wages for a retiring fund. If a servant had left any
'petits' behind him, a sum of money was withheld from his wages to
provide a pension for them, and a record of it was kept on the books.
This rule applied even to men who were distinguished in the service.

       *       *       *       *       *

In June 1670, one month after the charter was granted, three ships--the
_Wavero_, the _Shaftesbury Pink_, and the _Prince Rupert_--conveying
forty men and a cargo of supplies, sailed for Hudson Bay. Gillam
commanded the _Prince Rupert_, Radisson went as general superintendent
of trade, and Charles Bayly as governor of the fort at the Rupert river.
Gorst the secretary, Romulus the surgeon, and Groseilliers accompanied
the expedition. The ships duly arrived at Fort Charles, and, while Bayly
and his men prepared the fort for residence and Groseilliers plied trade
with the Indians, Radisson cruised the west coast of the Bay on the
_Wavero_. He made observations at Moose and Albany rivers, and passed
north to Nelson harbour, where Button had wintered half a century
before. Here, on the projection of land between two great rivers--the
future site of York Factory--Radisson erected the arms of the English
king. The southern river he named Hayes, after Sir James Hayes, Prince
Rupert's secretary. The mouth of this river was a good place to get
furs, for down its broad tide came the canoes of the Assiniboines, the
'Stone Boilers' whom Radisson had met near Lake Superior long ago, and
of the Crees, who had first told him of the Sea of the North.

Radisson returned to England with Gillam on the _Prince Rupert_, while
Groseilliers wintered on the Bay; and it appears that, during the next
three years, Radisson spent the winters in London advising the Company,
and the summers on the Bay, cruising and trading on the west coast. In
1672 he married Mary Kirke. Sir James Hayes said afterwards that he
'misled her into marrying him,' but there is nothing to show that the
wife herself ever thought so. Perhaps Radisson hoped that his marriage
to the daughter of one of the leading directors of the Company would
strengthen his position. He received £100 a year for his services, but,
although his efforts had turned a visionary search for the North-West
Passage into a prosperous trading enterprise, he was not a shareholder
in the Company.



CHAPTER V

FRENCH AND ENGLISH ON THE BAY


Every year three ships were sailing to the Bay and returning to England
laden with peltry; but in 1672 it was observed by the traders at the
fort that fewer Indians than usual came down the river with furs. In the
next year there were still fewer. For some reason the trade was falling
off. Radisson urged Bayly to establish new forts on the west coast, and
at length the governor consented to go with him on his regular summer
cruise to Nelson. When they came back to Rupert in August they were
surprised to find the fort tenanted by a Jesuit from Quebec, Father
Albanel, who handed letters to Radisson and Groseilliers, and passports
from the governor of New France to Bayly. The sudden decrease of trade
was explained. French traders coming overland from the St Lawrence had
been intercepting the Indians. But France and England were at peace and
bound in closest amity by secret treaty, and Bayly was compelled to
receive the passports and to welcome the Jesuit, as the representative
of a friendly nation, to the hospitality of Fort Charles. What the
letters to Radisson and Groseilliers contained we can only guess, but we
do know that their contents, made the French explorers thoroughly
dissatisfied with their position in the Hudson's Bay Company. Bayly
accused the two Frenchmen of being in collusion with the Company's
rivals. A quarrel followed and at this juncture Captain Gillam arrived
on one of the Company's ships. The Frenchmen were suspected of
treachery, and Gillam suggested that they should return to England and
explain what seemed to need explaining.

The Admiralty records for 1674 contain mention of Captain Gillam's
arrival from Hudson Bay on the _Shaftesbury Pink_ with 'a French Jesuit,
a little ould man, and an Indian, a very lusty man.' This Jesuit could
not have been Albanel, for in the French archives is conclusive proof
that Albanel returned to Quebec. The 'little ould man' must have been
another Jesuit found by Gillam at the Bay.

The winter of 1673-74 found Radisson and Groseilliers back in England
pressing the directors of the Company for better terms. The Governing
Committee first required oaths of fealty. Conferences were multiplied
and prolonged; but still Radisson and Groseilliers refused to go back to
the Bay until something was done. On June 29, 1674, the Governing
Committee unanimously voted that 'there be allowed to Mr Radisson £100
per annum in consideration of services, out of which shall be deducted
what hath already been paid him; and if it pleases God to bless the
Company with good success, hereafter that they come to be in a
prosperous condition, then they will reassume consideration.'
'Prosperous condition!' At this time the shareholders were receiving
dividends of fifty and one hundred per cent.

Now, in Radisson's pockets were offers from Colbert, the great minister
at the French Court, for service in the French Navy at three times this
salary. Abruptly, in the fall of 1674, the two Frenchmen left London and
took service under Colbert. But now another difficulty blocked
Radisson's advance. Colbert insisted that Radisson's wife should come to
France to live. He thought that as long as Madame Radisson remained in
England her husband's loyalty could not be trusted. Besides, her
father, Sir John Kirke, was a claimant against France for £40,000
damages arising out of the capture of Quebec in 1629 by his relatives
and its restoration to France in 1632 without recognition of the
family's rights. If Sir John's daughter was residing in Paris as the
wife of a French naval officer, the minister saw that this dispute might
be more easily adjusted; and so he declined to promote the two Frenchmen
until Madame Radisson came to France.

In 1679, during shore leave from the navy, Radisson met one of his old
cronies of Quebec--Aubert de la Chesnaye, a fur trader. 'He proposed to
me,' Radisson says, 'to undertake to establish the beaver trade in the
great Bay where I had been some years before on account of the English.'
It may be supposed that naval discipline ill-suited these wild
wood-wanderers, and after this it is not surprising that we find
Radisson and Groseilliers again in New France at a conference of fur
traders and explorers, among whom were La Salle, Jolliet, Charles Le
Moyne, the soldier with the famous sons, and La Chesnaye. No doubt
Radisson told those couriers of the wilderness tales of profit on the
sea in the north that brought great curses down on the authorities of
New France who forbade the people of the colony free access to that rich
fur field. La Chesnaye had introduced the brothers-in-law to Frontenac,
the governor of New France, and had laid before him their plans for a
trading company to operate on the great bay; but Frontenac 'did not
approve the business.' He could not give a commission to invade the
territory of a friendly power; still, if La Chesnaye and his associates
chose to assume risks, he could wink at an invasion of rival traders'
domains. A bargain was made. La Chesnaye would find the capital and
equip two ships, and Radisson and Groseilliers would make the voyage.
The brothers-in-law would sail at once for Acadia, there to spend the
winter, and in the spring they would come with the fishing fleets to
Isle Percé, where La Chesnaye would send their ships.

During the winter of 1681-82 La Chesnaye persuaded some of his friends
to advance money for provisions and ships to go to the North Sea. Among
these friends were Jean Chouart, Groseilliers' son, and a Dame Sorrel,
who, like the English Lady Drax, was prepared to give solid support to a
venture that promised profit. Thus was begun the Company of the
North[2] (_la Compagnie du Nord_) that was to be a thorn in the side of
the 'Adventurers of England' for over thirty years. Frontenac granted
permission for two unseaworthy vessels, the _St Anne_ and the _St
Pierre_, to fish off Isle Percé. Strange bait for cod lay in the
lockers.

[2] While there are earlier records referring to the Company of the
North, this year (1682) is generally given as the date of its founding.
Similarly 1670 is taken as the date of the founding of the Hudson's Bay
Company, although, as we have seen, it was practically begun three years
earlier.

With profound disappointment Radisson and Groseilliers saw at Isle Percé
in July the boats which they were to have. The _St Pierre_, outfitted
for Radisson, was a craft of only fifty tons and boasted a crew of only
twelve men. Groseilliers' vessel, the _St Anne_, which carried his son,
Jean Chouart, was still smaller and had fifteen men. Both crews
consisted of freshwater sailors who tossed with woe and threatened
mutiny when the boats rolled past the tidal bore of Belle Isle Strait
and began threading their way in and out of the 'tickles' and fiords of
the ribbed, desolate, rocky coast of Labrador. Indeed, when the ships
stopped to take on water at a lonely 'hole in the wall' on the Labrador
coast, the mutiny would have flamed into open revolt but for the sail of
a pirate ship that appeared on the horizon. Thereupon Radisson's ships
crowded sail to the wind and sped on up the coast. What pirate ship this
was may be guessed from what happened three weeks later.

Early in September the two vessels reached the Hayes river, which
Radisson had named twelve years before and where he had set up the arms
of the English king. Advancing fifteen miles up-stream, they chose a
winter harbour. Leaving Groseilliers to beach the boats and erect
cabins, Radisson and young Jean Chouart canoed farther up to the
rendezvous of the Cree and Assiniboine Indians. The Indians were
overjoyed to meet their trader friend of long past years. The white
man's coming meant firearms, and firearms ensured invincible might over
all foes. 'Ho, young men, be not afraid. The Sun is favourable to us.
Our enemies shall fear us. This is the man we have wished for since the
days of our fathers,' shouted the chief of the Assiniboines as he danced
and tossed arrows of thanks to the gods.

When the voyageurs glided back down-stream on the glassy current, other
sounds than those of Indian chants greeted them. The Hayes river, as we
have seen, is divided from the Nelson on the north by a swampy stretch of
brushwood. Across the swamp boomed and rolled to their astonished ears the
reverberation of cannon. Was it the pirate ship seen off Labrador? or was
it the coming of the English Company's traders? Radisson's canoe slipped
past the crude fort that Groseilliers had erected and entered the open Bay.
Nothing was visible but the yellow sea, chopped to white caps by the autumn
wind. When he returned to the fort he learned that cannonading had been
heard from farther inland. Evidently the ships had sailed up the Nelson
river. Now, across the marsh between the two rivers lay a creek by which
Indian canoes from time immemorial had crossed. Taking a canoe and three of
his best men, Radisson paddled and portaged over this route to the Nelson.
There, on what is now known as Seal or Gillam Island, stood a crude new
fort; and anchored by the island lay a stout ship--the _Bachelor's
Delight_--cannons pointing from every porthole. Was it the pirate ship seen
off Labrador? It took very little parleying to ascertain that the ship was
a poacher, commanded by young Ben Gillam of Boston, son of the Company's
captain, come here on illicit trade, with John Outlaw and Mike
Grimmington, who later became famed seamen, as first and second mates.
Radisson took fate by the beard, introduced himself to young Gillam, went
on board the ship--not, however, without first seeing that two New
Englanders remained as hostages with his three Frenchmen--quaffed drinks,
observed that the ship was stout and well manned, advised Ben not to risk
his men too far from the fort among the Indians, and laughed with joyous
contempt when Ben fired cannon by way of testing the Frenchman's courage.

[Illustration: ON THE HAYES RIVER From a photograph by R. W. Brock]

There was enough to try Radisson's courage the very next day. While
gliding leisurely down the current of the Nelson, he saw at a bend in
the river the Hudson's Bay Company's ship _Prince Rupert_, commanded by
his quondam enemy, Captain Gillam, sailing straight for the rendezvous
already occupied by Ben Gillam. At any cost the two English ships must
be kept apart; and at once! Singly, perhaps they could be mastered by
the French. Together, they would surely overpower Radisson. It was
nightfall. Landing and concealing his comrades, Radisson kindled such a
bonfire as Indians used to signal trade. The ship immediately anchored.
There was a comical meeting on the _Prince Rupert_ the next morning, at
which Radisson represented to the new governor, John Bridgar, who was on
the ship with Gillam, that each of his three paddlers was a captain of
large ambushed forces. Charity will, perhaps, excuse Radisson for his
fabulous tales of a powerful French fort on the Nelson and his
disinterested observation that this river had a dangerous current higher
up. It appears that Radisson succeeded completely in deceiving the
Englishmen. Had they known how helpless he was, with only a few rude
'shacks' on the Hayes river garrisoned by twenty or thirty mutinous
sailors, surely they would have clapped him under hatches. But he was
permitted to leave the ship, and Bridgar began the preparation of his
winter quarters on the shore.

Some days later Radisson came back. His old enemy Gillam was suspicious
and ordered him away; but Radisson came again, and this time he brought
with him the captain's son, young Ben, dressed as a wood-runner. This
was enough to intimidate the old captain, for he knew that if his son
was caught poaching on the Bay both father and son would be ruined. One
day two of Bridgar's men who had been ranging for game dashed in with
the news that they had seen a strange fort up the Nelson a few miles
away. This, of course, Bridgar thought, was Radisson's fort, and Captain
Gillam did not dare to undeceive him. Then a calamity befell the English
winterers. A storm rose and set the tidal ice driving against the
_Prince Rupert_. The ship was jammed and sunk with loss of provisions
and fourteen men, including the captain himself. So perished Captain
Zachariah Gillam, whom we first met as master of the _Nonsuch_, the
pioneer of all the ships that have since sailed into the Bay in the
service of the Hudson's Bay Company.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO NELSON and HAYES RIVERS
Map by Bartholomew]

The wreck of the ship left Bridgar helpless in his rude fort without
either food or ammunition, and he at once began to console himself for
loss of ship and provisions by deep drinking. Then Radisson knew that he
had nothing further to fear from that quarter and he sent food to the
starving Englishmen.

Ben Gillam was outwitted through defiantly accepting an invitation to
visit the French fort. Gillam visited his rivals to spy on their
weakness, and openly taunted them at the banquet table about their
helpless condition. When he tried to depart he was coolly told that he
was a prisoner, and that, with the aid of any nine Frenchmen Ben chose
to pick out from 'the helpless French,' Radisson purposed capturing the
poacher's fort and ship. The young captain had fallen into a trap.
Radisson had left French hostages at Gillam's fort for his safe return,
but these had been instructed to place firearms at convenient places and
to post themselves so that they could prevent the sudden closing of the
gates. Such precautions proved unnecessary. Radisson walked into the New
England poacher's fort and quietly took possession.

A few days later Bridgar, who had learned too late that the fort on the
Nelson was not French but English, marched his men up-stream to contrive
a junction with young Gillam's forces. When the Hudson's Bay men knocked
on the gate of the New Englanders' fort for admission, the sentinel
opened without question. The gates clapped shut with a slamming of
bolts, and the Englishmen found themselves quietly and bloodlessly
captured by the intrepid Radisson.

Meanwhile Groseilliers and his son, Jean Chouart, had been plying a
thriving trade. To be sure, the ice jam of spring in the Hayes river had
made Radisson's two cockle-shell craft look more like staved-in barrels
than merchant ships. But in the spring, when the Assiniboines and Crees
came riding down the river flood in vast brigades of birch canoes laden
to the waterline with peltry, the Frenchmen had in store goods to barter
with them and carried on a profitable trade.

Radisson now had more prisoners than he could conveniently carry to
Quebec. Rigging up the remnants of his rickety ships for a convoy, he
placed in them the majority of the Hudson's Bay Company and New England
crews and sent them south to Rupert and Moose. Taking possession of Ben
Gillam's ship, the _Bachelor's Delight_, he loaded it with a cargo of
precious furs, and set out for Quebec with Bridgar and young Gillam as
prisoners. Jean Chouart and a dozen Frenchmen remained on the Hayes
river to trade. Twenty miles out from port, Bridgar and young Gillam
were caught conspiring to cut the throats of the Frenchmen, and
henceforth both Englishmen were kept under lock and key in their cabins.

But once again Radisson had to encounter the governing bodies of Quebec.
The authorities of New France were enraged when they learned that La
Chesnaye had sent an expedition to the North Sea. In the meantime
Frontenac had been replaced by another governor, La Barre. Tax
collectors beset the ships like rats long before Quebec was sighted,
and practically confiscated the cargo in fines and charges. La Barre no
doubt supposed that the treaty of peace existing between England and
France gave him an excuse for seizing the cargo of furs. At all events
he ordered Radisson and Groseilliers to report at once to Colbert in
France. He restored the _Bachelor's Delight_ forthwith to Ben Gillam and
gave him full clearance papers. He released Bridgar, the Company's
trader. His stroke of statesmanship left the two French explorers
literally beggared, and when they reached Paris in January 1684 Colbert
was dead.

But, though Ben Gillam secured his release from the governor of New
France, he did not escape the long hand of the Hudson's Bay Company, who
had written from London to Mr Randolph of the American Plantations to
effect the arrest of Ben Gillam at any cost. At the same time they sent
Randolph a £10 present of silver plate. On reaching Boston, Ben Gillam
was duly arrested. He afterwards became a pirate, and his ultimate fate
was involved with that of the famous Captain Kidd. Both were sent to
England to be tried for crimes on the high seas; and it is supposed
that, like Kidd, Ben suffered execution. Bridgar, suddenly freed from
all danger, as suddenly regained a sense of his own importance. He made
drafts on the Company and set out from Quebec in such state as befitted
his dignity, with secretary and interpreter and valet. He rode hurriedly
along the old post-road between Boston and New York, filling the
countryside with the story of his adventures. Then he took ship to
England; but there his valour suffered a sudden chill. The Company had
refused to honour his bills. They repudiated his drafts, reprimanded him
severely, and suspended him from service for several years. Mike
Grimmington and Outlaw and the others, who had been shipped down from
Nelson to Moose and Rupert, promptly took passage home to England on the
Company's yearly ship. By the time Radisson and Groseilliers reached
Paris, Europe was ringing with the outrage involved in their exploits.

Radisson found small comfort in Paris. Possibly Colbert's death had
deprived him of a sympathetic protector, and the French court was as
reluctant now to interfere with the actions of the colonial authorities
at Quebec as it had been twenty years before. After petitioning vainly
for consideration, Groseilliers seems to have given up the contest and
retired for the remainder of his life to a small patrimony near Three
Rivers. Not so Radisson! He was bound to the Old World by marriage; and
now international complications came to bind him yet more completely.
'It is impossible,' wrote Louis XIV to Governor La Barre, 'to imagine
what you mean by releasing Gillam's boat and relinquishing claim to the
North Sea,' At the same time Louis was in a quandary. He would not
relinquish the French claim to the North Sea; but he dared not risk a
rupture of his secret treaty with England by openly countenancing
Radisson's exploit on the Nelson river. Radisson was secretly ordered to
go back to the Bay and, unofficially, in his private capacity, restore
the Nelson river fur posts to the Hudson's Bay Company. The words of the
order in part are: 'To put an end to the differences between the two
Nations touching the settlements made by Messrs Groseilliers and
Radisson on Hudson's Bay, the said Groseilliers and Radisson shall
return and withdraw the French with all effects belonging to them and
shall restore to the English Company the Habitation by them settled to
be enjoyed by the English without molestation.'

At the very same time that these royal orders sent Radisson to restore
the forts, a privateering frigate was dispatched from France to Quebec
with equally secret orders to attack and sink English vessels on the
Bay. The 'Adventurers of England,' too, were involved in a game of
international duplicity. While Mr Young, the fashionable man about town,
wrote letters imploring Radisson to come back to England, Sir James
Hayes bombarded the French court with demands that the Frenchman be
punished. 'I am confirmed,' he wrote, 'in our worst fears. M. Radisson,
who was at the head of the action at Port Nelson, is arrived in France
the 8th of this month and is in all post haste to undermine us on the
Bay. Nothing can mend but to cause ye French King to have exemplary
justice done on ye said Radisson.'

On May 10, 1684, Radisson arrived in London. He was met by Mr Young and
Sir James Hayes and welcomed and forthwith carried to Windsor, where he
took the oath of fidelity as a British subject. The Company, sunk a
month before in the depths of despair, were transported with joy and
generous rejoicings, and the Governing Committee voted Mr Young thanks
for bringing Mr Radisson from France. Two days after Radisson's
arrival, Sir James Hayes and Mr Young reported to the Company that Mr
Radisson had tendered his services to the Company, that they 'have
presented him to our Governor, His Royal Highness, who was pleased to
advise he should again be received in service, under wage of £50 per
annum and benefit of dividends on £200 capital stock during life, to
receive £25 to set him out for this present expedition.' On May 21 Sir
James Hayes reported that he had presented Mr Radisson with 'a silver
tankard, charged to the Company at £10 14. 0.'

Radisson returned to the Bay on the _Happy Return_, sailed by Captain
Bond. On the same ship went the new governor, William Phipps, who had
been appointed to succeed Bridgar, and a boy named Henry Kelsey, of whom
we shall hear more later. Outlaw, who had been with Ben Gillam, had a
commission for the Company and sailed the _Success_. His mate was Mike
Grimmington, also of the old poacher crew. There was a sloop, too, the
_Adventure_--Captain Geyer--for inland waters.

When Radisson arrived at the Hayes river and told Jean Chouart--who, as
we have seen, had been left in charge of the French trade there--of the
looting of the fur cargoes at Quebec and of the order from the French
king to transfer everything to the English, the young Frenchman's rage
may be imagined. He had risked his entire fortune on the expedition from
Quebec; but what account did this back-stairs trick of courtiers take of
his ruin? Radisson told him that he had been commissioned to offer him
£100 a year for service under the English, and £50 each to his underling
traders. Jean listened in sullen silence. The furs gathered by the
Frenchmen were transferred to the holds of the English vessels, but Jean
and his companions evinced no eagerness to go aboard for England. On
September 4, just as the sailors were heaving up anchors to the
sing-song of a running chant, Phipps, the governor, summoned the French
to a final council on board the _Happy Return_. Young Jean looked out
through the ports of the captain's cabin. The sea was slipping past. The
_Happy Return_ had set sail. The Frenchmen were trapped and were being
carried to England. In an instant, hands were on swords and the ship was
in an uproar. Radisson besought his countrymen to bethink themselves
before striking. What could five men do against an armed English crew?
Once in England, they could listen to what the Company had to offer:
meanwhile they were suffering no harm. The Frenchmen sullenly put back
their swords. The boat reached Portsmouth in the last week of October.
Radisson took horse and rode furiously for London.

If the adventurers had been exultant over his return from France, they
were doubly jubilant at his victorious return from the Bay. He was
publicly thanked, presented with a hundred guineas, and became the lion
of the hour. The Governing Committee on November 14, 1684, three weeks
after Radisson's return, voted that he had 'done extraordinary service
to the great liking and satisfaction of the Company...the committee are
resolved to bestow some mark of respect to the son of Mr Groseilliers
and order 20s. a week paid him beginning October 30.' A present of seven
musquash skins was now given Mr Young for having induced Radisson to
resume his services.

Radisson was requested to make terms with the young Frenchman, but this
was not such an easy matter. Some one suggested that Jean Chouart should
follow the example of his uncle and marry an English wife. Jean shrugged
his shoulders. In a letter to his mother at Three Rivers he wrote: 'I am
offered proposals of marriage to which I will not listen. I would
leave, but they hold back my pay, and orders have been given to arrest
me in case I try. Cause it to be well known that I never intended to
follow the English. I have been forced to this by my uncle's subterfuge.
Assure M. Du Lhut of my humble services. I will have the honour of
seeing him as soon as I can. Tell the same to M. Péré and all our good
friends.' To M. Comporte he writes: 'I will be at the place you desire
me to go, or perish.' As M. Du Lhut had been dispatched by the Company
of the North with the knowledge of the governor of Quebec to intercept
Indians going down to the English on Hudson Bay, and M. Péré and M.
Comporte were suave diplomats and spies in his service, it may be
guessed that the French passed secret messages into the hands of young
Jean Chouart in London, and that he passed messages back to them. At all
events, from being doggedly resistant to all overtures, he suddenly
became complaisant in March of 1685, and took out papers of
'deninization,' or naturalization, in preference to the oath of
fidelity, and engaged with the English Company at £100 a year. He was
given another £100 to fit him out, and his four comrades were engaged
at from £45 to £80 a year. How could the gentlemen of the Company guess
that young Jean was betraying them to the Company of the North in
Canada, where a mine was being laid to blow up their prosperity?

The Hudson's Bay Company declared dividends of fifty per cent, and
chartered seven vessels for the season of 1685--some from a goldsmith,
Sir Stephen Evance; and bespoke my Lord Churchill as next governor in
place of James, Duke of York, who had become King James II.



CHAPTER VI

THE GREAT OVERLAND RAID


The Company now had permanent forts at Rupert, Albany, and Moose rivers
on James Bay, and at the mouth of the Hayes river on the west coast. The
very year that Churchill was appointed governor and took his place at
the board of the Governing Committee, a small sloop had sailed as far
north as Churchill, or the River of the Strangers, to reconnoitre and
fix a site for a post. The fleet of trading vessels had increased even
faster than the forts. Seven ships--four frigates and three sloops--were
dispatched for the Bay in 1685. Radisson, young Jean, and the four
Frenchmen went on the _Happy Return_ with Captain Bond bound for Nelson.
Richard Lucas commanded the _Owner's Good Will_. Captain Outlaw, with
Mike Grimmington as mate, took the big ship _Success_, destined for
Albany. Captain Hume, with Smithsend for mate, took his cargo boat, the
_Merchant Perpetuana_. The Company did not own any of these vessels.
They were chartered from Sir Stephen Evance and others, for sums running
from £400 to £600 for the voyage, with £100 extra for the impress money.
The large vessels carried crews of twenty men; the smaller, of twelve;
and each craft boasted at least six great guns. In March, after violent
debate over old Bridgar's case, the Committee reinstated him at £100 a
year as governor at Rupert. Phipps went as governor to Port Nelson. One
Nixon was already stationed at Moose. Bluff old Henry Sargeant, as true
a Viking as ever rode the north seas, had been at Albany for a year with
his family--the first white family known to have resided on the Bay.
Radisson had been reappointed superintendent of trade over the entire
Bay; and he recommended for this year 20,500 extra flints, 500 extra
ice-chisels for trapping beaver above the waterfalls, and several
thousand extra yards of tobacco--thereby showing the judgment of an
experienced trader. This spring the curious oaths of secrecy, already
mentioned, were administered to all servants. It may be inferred that
the _Happy Return_ and the _Perpetuana_ were the heaviest laden, for
they fell behind the rest of the fleet on the way out, and were
embayed, along with Outlaw's _Success_, in the icefields off Digges
Island in July. It was the realm of almost continuous light in summer;
but there must have been fogs or thick weather, for candles were lighted
in the binnacles and cabins, and the gloom outside was so heavy that it
was impossible to see ten feet away from the decks in the woolly night
mist.

Meanwhile the governor at Albany, Henry Sargeant, awaited the coming of
the yearly ships. It may be guessed that he waited chuckling. He and
Nixon, who seem to have been the only governors resident on the Bay that
summer, must have felt great satisfaction. They had out-tricked the
French interlopers. One La Martinière of the Company of the North had
sailed into the Bay with two ships laden with cargo from Quebec for the
fur trade; and the two Hudson's Bay traders had manipulated matters so
craftily that not an Indian could the French find. Not a pelt did La
Martinière obtain. The French captain then inquired very particularly
for his compatriot--M. Radisson. M. Radisson was safe in England. One
can see old Sargeant's eyes twinkle beneath his shaggy brows. La
Martinière swears softly; a price is on M. Radisson's head. The French
king had sent orders to M. de Denonville, the governor of New France, to
arrest Radisson and 'to pay fifty pistoles' to anyone who seized him.
Has His Excellency, M. Sargeant, seen one Jean Péré, or one M. Comporte?
No, M. Sargeant has seen neither 'Parry'--as his report has it--nor 'a
Comporte.'

La Martinière sailed away, and old Sargeant sent his sentinel to the
crow's nest--a sort of loft or lighthouse built on a high hill behind
the fort--to hoist the signals for incoming boats and to run up the
flag. He had dispatched Sandford or 'Red Cap,' one of his men, a little
way up the Albany to bring him word of the coming of the Indian canoes;
but this was not Sandford coming back, and these were not Indian canoes
coming down the Albany river from the Up-Country. This was the long slow
dip of white voyageurs, not the quick choppy stroke of the Indian; and
before Sargeant could rub the amazement out of his eyes, three white
men, with a blanket for sail, came swirling down the current, beached
their canoe, and, doffing caps in a debonair manner, presented
themselves before the Hudson's Bay man dourly sitting on a cannon in the
gateway. The nonchalant gentleman who introduced the others was Jean
Péré, dressed as a wood-runner, voyaging and hunting in this
back-of-beyond for pleasure. A long way to come for pleasure, thought
Sargeant--all the leagues and leagues from French camps on Lake
Superior. But England and France were at peace. The gentlemen bore
passports. They were welcomed to a fort breakfast and passed pretty
compliments to Madame Sargeant, and asked blandly after M. Radisson's
health, and had the honour to express their most affectionate regard for
friend Jean Chouart. Now where might Jean Chouart be? Sargeant did not
satisfy their curiosity, nor did he urge them to stay overnight. They
sailed gaily on down-stream to hunt in the cedar swamps south of Albany.
That night while they slept the tide carried off their canoe. Back they
had to come to the fort. But meanwhile some one else had arrived there.
With a fluttering of the ensign above the mainmast and a clatter as the
big sails came flopping down, Captain Outlaw had come to anchor on the
_Success_; and the tale that he told--one can see the anger mount to old
Sargeant's eyes and the fear to Jean Péré's--was that the _Merchant
Perpetuana_, off Digges Island, had been boarded and scuttled in the
midnight gloom of July 27 by two French ships. Hume and Smithsend had
been overpowered, fettered, and carried off prisoners to Quebec. Mike
Grimmington too, who seems to have been on Hume's ship, was a prisoner.
Fourteen of the crew had been bayoneted to death and thrown overboard.
Outlaw did not know the later details of the raid--how Hume was to be
sent home to France for ransom, and Mike Grimmington was to be tortured
to betray the secret signals of the Bay, and Smithsend and the other
English seamen to be sold into slavery in Martinique. Ultimately, all
three were ransomed or escaped back to England; but they heard strange
threats of raid and overland foray as they lay imprisoned beneath the
Château St Louis in Quebec. Fortunately Radisson and the five Frenchmen,
being on board the _Happy Return_, had succeeded in escaping from the
ice jam and were safe in Nelson.

What Jean Péré remarked on hearing this recital is not known--possibly
something not very complimentary about the plans of the French raiders
going awry; but the next thing is that Mr Jan Parry--as Sargeant
persists in describing him--finds himself in 'the butter vat' or prison
of Albany with fetters on his feet and handcuffs on his wrists. On
October 29 he is sent prisoner to England on the home-bound ships of
Bond and Lucas. His two companion spies are marooned for the winter on
Charlton Island. As well try, however, to maroon a bird on the wing as a
French wood-runner. The men fished and snared game so diligently that by
September they had full store of provisions for escape. Then they made
themselves a raft or canoe and crossed to the mainland. By Christmas
they had reached the French camps of Michilimackinac. In another month
they were in Quebec with wild tales of Péré, held prisoner in the
dungeons of Albany. France and England were at peace; but the Chevalier
de Troyes, a French army officer, and the brothers Le Moyne, dare-devil
young adventurers of New France, asked permission of the governor of
Quebec to lead a band of wood-runners overland to rescue Péré on the
Bay, fire the English forts, and massacre the English. Rumours of these
raids Smithsend heard in his dungeon below Château St Louis; and he
contrived to send a secret letter to England, warning the Company.

In England the adventurers had lodged 'Parry' in jail on a charge of
having 'damnified the Company.' Smithsend's letter of warning had come;
but how could the Company reach their forts before the ice cleared?
Meanwhile they hired twenty extra men for each fort. They presented
Radisson with a hogshead of claret. At the same time they had him and
his wife, 'dwelling at the end of Seething Lane on Tower Hill,' sign a
bond for £2000 by way of ensuring fidelity. 'Ye two journals of Mr
Radisson's last expedition to ye Bay' were delivered into the hands of
the Company, where they have rested to this day.

The ransom demanded for Hume was paid by the Company at secret sessions
of the Governing Committee, and the captain came post-haste from France
with word of La Martinière's raid. My Lord Churchill being England's
champion against 'those varmint' the French, 'My Lord Churchill was
presented with a catt skin counter pane for his bedd' and was asked to
bespeak the favour of the king that France should make restitution. My
Lord Churchill brought back word that the king said: 'Gentlemen, I
understand your business! On my honour, I assure you I will take
particular care on it to see that you are righted.' In all, eighty-nine
men were on the Bay at this time. It proved not easy to charter ships
that year. Sir Stephen Evance advanced his price on the _Happy Return_
from £400 to £750. Knight, of whom we shall hear anon, and Red Cap
Sandford, of whom the minutes do not tell enough to inform us whether
the name refers to his hair or his hat, urged the Governing Committee to
send at least eighteen more men to Albany, twelve more to Moose, six
more to Rupert, and to open a trading post at Severn between Nelson and
Albany. They advised against attempting to go up the rivers while French
interlopers were active. Radisson bought nine hundred muskets for
Nelson, and ordered two great guns to be mounted on the walls. When
Smithsend arrived from imprisonment in Quebec, war fever against the
French rose to white-heat.

But, while all this preparation was in course at home, sixty-six swarthy
Indians and thirty-three French wood-runners, led by the Chevalier de
Troyes, the Le Moyne brothers, and La Chesnaye, the fur trader, were
threading the deeply-forested, wild hinterland between Quebec and Hudson
Bay. On June 18, 1686, Moose Fort had shut all its gates; but the sleepy
sentry, lying in his blanket across the entrance, had not troubled to
load the cannon. He slept heavily outside the high palisade made of
pickets eighteen feet long, secure in the thought that twelve soldiers
lay in one of the corner bastions and that three thousand pounds of
powder were stored in another. With all lights out and seemingly in
absolute security, the chief factor's store and house, built of
whitewashed stone, stood in the centre of the inner courtyard.

Two white men dressed as Indians--the young Le Moyne brothers, not yet
twenty-six years of age--slipped noiselessly from the woods behind the
fort, careful not to crunch their moccasins on dead branches, took a
look at the sleeping sentry and the plugged mouths of the unloaded
cannon, and as noiselessly slipped back to their comrades in hiding.
Each man was armed with musket, sword, dagger, and pistol. He carried no
haversack, but a single blanket rolled on his back with dried meat and
biscuit enclosed. The raiders slipped off their blankets and coats, and
knelt and prayed for blessing on their raid.

The next time the Le Moynes came back to the sentinel sleeping heavily
at the fort gate, one quick, sure sabre-stroke cleft the sluggard's head
to the collar-bone. A moment later the whole hundred raiders were
sweeping over the walls. A gunner sprang up with a shout from his
sleep. A single blow on the head, and one of the Le Moynes had put the
fellow to sleep for ever. In less than five minutes the French were
masters of Moose Fort at a cost of only two lives, with booty of twelve
cannon and three thousand pounds of powder and with a dozen prisoners.

While the old Chevalier de Troyes paused to rig up a sailing sloop for
the voyage across the bottom of James Bay to the Rupert river, Pierre Le
Moyne--known in history as d'Iberville--with eight men, set out in
canoes on June 27 for the Hudson's Bay fort on the south-east corner of
the inland sea. Crossing the first gulf or Hannah Bay, he portaged with
his men across the swampy flats into Rupert Bay, thus saving a day's
detour, and came on poor old Bridgar's sloop near the fort at Rupert,
sails reefed, anchor out, rocking gently to the night tide. D'Iberville
was up the hull and over the deck with the quiet stealth and quickness
of a cat. One sword-blow severed the sleeping sentinel's head from his
body. Then, with a stamp of his moccasined feet and a ramp of the butt
of his musket, d'Iberville awakened the sleeping crew below decks. By
way of putting the fear of God and of France into English hearts, he
sabred the first three sailors who came floundering up the hatches. Poor
old Bridgar came up in his nightshirt, hardly awake, both hands up in
surrender--his second surrender in four years. To wake up to bloody
decks, with the heads of dead men rolling to the scuppers, was enough to
excuse any man's surrender.

The noise on the ship had forewarned the fort, and the French had to
gain entrance thereto by ladders. With these they ascended to the roofs
of the houses and hurled down bombs--hand-grenades--through the
chimneys, 'with,' says the historian of the occasion, 'an effect most
admirable.' Most admirable, indeed! for an Englishwoman, hiding in a
room closet, fell screaming with a broken hip. The fort surrendered, and
the French were masters of Rupert with thirty prisoners and a ship to
the good. What all this had to do with the rescue of Jean Péré would
puzzle any one but a raiding fur trader.

With prisoners, ship, cannon, and ammunition, but with few provisions
for food, the French now set sail westward across the Bay for Albany, La
Chesnaye no doubt bearing in mind that a large quantity of beaver stored
there would compensate him for his losses at Nelson two years before
when the furs collected by Jean Chouart on behalf of the Company of the
North had been seized by the English. The wind proved perverse.
Icefloes, driving towards the south end of the Bay, delayed the sloops.
Again Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville could not constrain patience to await
the favour of wind and weather. With crews of voyageurs he pushed off
from the ship in two canoes. Fog fell. The ice proved brashy, soft to
each step, and the men slithered through the water up to the armpits as
they carried the canoes. D'Iberville could keep his men together only by
firing guns through the fog and holding hands in a chain as the two
crews portaged across the soft ice.

By August 1 the French voyageurs were in camp before Albany, and a few
days later de Troyes arrived with the prisoners and the big sloop.
Before Albany, Captain Outlaw's ship, the _Success_, stood anchored; but
the ship seemed deserted, and the fort was fast sealed, like an oyster
in a shell. Indians had evidently carried warning of the raid to
Sargeant, and Captain Outlaw had withdrawn his crew inside the fort. The
Le Moynes, acting as scouts, soon discovered that Albany boasted
forty-three guns. If Jean Péré were prisoner here in durance vile, his
rescue would be a harder matter than the capture of Moose or Rupert. If
the French had but known it, bedlam reigned inside the fort. While the
English had guns, they had very little ammunition. Gunners threw down
their fuses and refused to stand up behind the cannon till old Sargeant
drove them back with his sword hilt. Men on the walls threw down muskets
and declared that while they had signed to serve, they had not signed to
fight, 'and if any of us lost a leg, the Company could not make it
good.' The Chevalier de Troyes, with banner flying and fifes shrilling,
marched forward, and under flag of truce pompously demanded, in the name
of the Most Christian Monarch, Louis XIV, King of France, the instant
release of Monsieur Jean Péré. Old Sargeant sent out word that Mister
Parry had long since sailed for France by way of England. This, however,
did not abate the demands of the Most Christian King of France. Bombs
began to sing overhead. Bridgar came under flag of truce to Sargeant and
told him the French were desperate. It was a matter of life and death.
They must take the fort to obtain provisions for the return to Quebec.
If it were surrendered, mercy would be exercised. If taken forcibly, no
power could restrain the Indians from massacre. Sargeant, as has been
explained before, had his family in the fort. Just at this moment one of
the gunners committed suicide from sheer terror, and Captain Outlaw came
from the powder magazine with the report that there was not another ball
to fire. Before Sargeant could prevent it, an underling had waved a
white sheet from one of the upper windows in surrender. The old trader
took two bottles of port, opened the fort gates, walked out and sat down
on a French cannon while he parleyed with de Troyes for the best terms
obtainable. The English officers and their families were allowed to
retire on one of the small ships to Charlton Island to await the coming
of the Company's yearly boats. When the hungry French rushed into the
fort, they found small store of food, but an enormous loot of furs. The
season was advancing. The Chevalier de Troyes bade his men disband and
find their way as best they could to Quebec. Only enough English
prisoners were retained to carry the loot of furs back overland. The
rest were turned adrift in the woods. Of fifty prisoners, only twenty
survived the winter of 1686-87. Some perished while trying to tramp
northward to Nelson, and some died in the woods, after a vain endeavour
to save their miserable lives by cannibalism.

The English flag still flew at Nelson; but the French were masters of
every other post on the Bay.



CHAPTER VII

YEARS OF DISASTER


In spite of French raid and foray, the Governing Committee in London
pursued the even tenor of its way. Strict measures were enforced to stop
illicit and clandestine trading on the part of the Company's servants.
In a minute of November 2, 1687, the Committee 'taking notice that
several of the officers and servants have brought home in their coats
and other garments severall pieces of furrs to the great prejudice of
the Co'y, do order that such as have any garments lined with furrs shall
forthwith bring the same to the warehouse and there leave all the same
furrs, or in default shall forfeit and loose all salary and be liable to
such prosecution as the Co'y think fitt.'

Silent anger and resentment grew against Radisson; for was it not he who
had revealed the secrets of the great Bay to marauding Frenchmen?
Sargeant was sued in £20,000 damages for surrendering Albany; but on
second thought, the case was settled by arbitration, and the doughty old
trader was awarded £350. Jean Chouart and the other Frenchmen came back
to London in 1689, and Jean was awarded £202 for all arrears. Also,
about this time, the Company began trade with North Russia in whale
blubber, which, like the furs, was auctioned by light of candle.

William of Orange was welcomed to the throne, in 1688, with an address
from the adventurers that would have put Henry VIII's parliament to the
blush: 'that in all yr. undertakings Yr. Majesty may bee as victorious
as Caesar, as beloved as Titus, and have the glorious long reign and
peaceful end of His Majesty Augustus.' Three hundred guineas were
presented along with this address in 'a faire embroidered purse by the
Hon. the Deputy Gov'r. upon his humble knees.' For pushing claims of
damages against France, Sir Edward Dering, the deputy-governor, was
voted two hundred guineas. Stock forfeited for breaking oaths of secrecy
was voted to a fund for the wounded and widows of the service. The
Company's servants were put on the same pensions as soldiers in the
national service. Henceforth 'one pipe of brandy' was to go on each
vessel for use during war; but, in spite of 'pipes of brandy,' the
seamen were now very mutinous about going aboard, and demanded pay in
advance, which with 'faire words doth allay anger.' It was a difficult
matter now to charter ships. The Company had to buy vessels; and it
seems there was a scarcity of ready money, for one minute records that
'the tradesmen are very importunate for their bills.'

Many new shareholders had come into the Company, and 'Esquire Young' had
great ado to convince them that Radisson had any rightful claim on them
at all. Radisson, for his part, went to law; and the arrears of
dividends were ordered to be paid. But when the war waxed hotter there
were no dividends. Then Esquire Young's petitions set forth that 'M.
Radisson is living in a mean and poor condition.' When the Frenchman
came asking for consideration, he was not invited into the committee
room, but was left cooling his heels in the outer hall. But the years
rolled on, and when, during the negotiation of the Treaty of Ryswick in
1697, the Company pressed a claim of £200,000 damages against France,
'the Committee considering Mr Peter Radisson may be very useful at this
time, as to affairs between the French and this Co'y, the Sec. is
ordered to take coach and fetch him to the Committee'; 'on wh. the
Committee had discourse with him till dinner.' The discourse--given in
full in the minutes--was the setting forth, on affidavit, of that secret
royal order from the king of France in 1684 to restore the forts on the
Bay to England. Meanwhile amounts of £250 were voted widows of captains
killed in the war; and the deputy-governor went to Hamburg and Amsterdam
to borrow money; for the governor, Sir Stephen Evance, was wellnigh
bankrupt.

A treaty of neutrality, in 1686, had provided that the Bay should be
held in common by France and England, but the fur traders of New France
were not content to honour such an ambiguous arrangement. D'Iberville
came overland again to Rupert river in 1687, promptly seized the English
sloop there, and sent four men across to Charlton Island to spy on
Captain Bond, who was wintering on the ship _Churchill_. Bond clapped
the French spies under hatches; but in the spring one was permitted
above decks to help the English sailors launch the _Churchill_ from her
skids. The Frenchman waited till six of the English were up the masts.
Then, seizing an ax, he brained two sailors near by, opened the
hatches, called up his comrades, and, keeping the other Englishmen up
the mast poles at pistol point, steered the vessel across to d'Iberville
at Rupert.

The English on their side, like the French, were not disposed to remain
inert under the terms of the treaty. Captain Moon sailed down from
Nelson, with two strongly-manned ships, to attempt the recapture of
Albany. At the moment when he had loaded a cargo of furs from the
half-abandoned fort on one of his vessels, d'Iberville came paddling
across the open sea with a force of painted Indian warriors. The English
dashed for hiding inside the fort, and d'Iberville gaily mounted to the
decks of the fur-laden ship, raised sail, and steered off for Quebec.
Meeting the incoming fleet of English vessels, he threw them off guard
by hoisting an English flag, and sailed on in safety.

When France and England were again openly at war, Le Moyne d'Iberville
was occupied with raids on New England; and during his absence from the
Bay, Mike Grimmington, who had been promoted to a captaincy, came
sailing down from Nelson to find Albany in the possession of four
Frenchmen under Captain Le Meux. He sacked the fort, clapped Le Meux and
his men in the hold of his English vessel, carried them off to England,
and presented them before the Governing Committee. Captain Mike was
given a tankard valued at £36 for his services. At the same time Captain
Edgecombe brought home a cargo of 22,000 beavers from Nelson, and was
rewarded with £20 worth of silver plate and £100 in cash. Meanwhile our
friend Jean Péré, who had escaped to France, was writing letters to
Radisson, trying to tempt him to leave England, or perhaps to involve
him in a parley that would undermine his standing with the English.

Grimmington's successful foray encouraged the 'Adventurers of England'
to make a desperate effort to recapture all the forts on the Bay. James
Knight, who had started as an apprentice under Sargeant, was sent to
Albany as governor, and three trusted men, Walsh, Bailey, and Kelsey,
were sent to Nelson, whence came the largest cargoes of furs.

But d'Iberville was not the man to let his winnings slip. Once more he
turned his attention to Hudson Bay, and on September 24, 1694, the
French frigates _Poli_ and _Salamander_ were unloading cannon, under his
direction, beneath the ramparts of Nelson. For three weeks, without
ceasing day or night, bombs were singing over the eighteen-foot
palisades of the fort. From within Walsh, Kelsey, and Bailey made a
brave defence. They poured scalding water on the heads of the Frenchmen
and Indians who ventured too near the walls. From the sugar-loaf tower
roofs of the corner bastions their sharpshooters were able to pick off
the French assailants, while keeping in safety themselves. They killed
Chateauguay, d'Iberville's brother, as he tried to force his way into
the fort through a rear wall. But the wooden towers could not withstand
the bombs, and at length both sides were ready to parley for terms. With
the hope that they might save their furs, the English hung out a
tablecloth as a flag of truce, and the exhausted fighters seized the
opportunity to eat and sleep. The weather had turned bitterly cold. No
ship could come from England till spring. Under these conditions, Walsh
made the best bargain he could. It was agreed that the English officers
should be lodged in the fort and should share the provisions during the
winter. D'Iberville took possession; and again, only one post on the
Bay--Albany, in charge of James Knight--remained in English hands.

On the miseries of the English prisoners that winter there is no time to
dwell. D'Iberville had departed, leaving La Forest, one of his men, in
command. The terms of the surrender were ignored. Only four officers
were maintained in the fort and given provisions. The rest of the
English were driven to the woods. Those who hung round the fort were
treated as slaves. Out of the fifty-three only twenty-five survived. No
English ship came to Nelson in the following summer--1695. The ship that
anchored there that summer was a French privateer, and in her hold some
of the English survivors were stowed and carried to France for ransom.

In August 1696, however, two English warships--the _Bonaventure_ and the
_Seaforth_--commanded by Captain Allen, anchored before Nelson. La
Forest capitulated almost on demand; and, again, the English with Nelson
in their hands were virtually in possession of the Bay. Allen made
prisoners of the whole garrison and seized twenty thousand beaver pelts.
While the _Bonaventure_ and the _Seaforth_ lay in front of the fort, two
ships of France, in command of Serigny, one of d'Iberville's brothers,
with provisions for La Forest, sailed in, and on sight of the English
ships sailed out again to the open sea--so hurriedly, indeed, that one
of the craft struck an icefloe, split, and sank. As Allen's two English
vessels, on their return journey, passed into the straits during a fog,
a volley of shot poured across the deck and laid the captain dead on the
spot. The ship whence this volley came was not seen; there is no further
record of the incident, and we can only surmise that the shot came from
Serigny's remaining ship. What is certain is that Allen was killed and
that the English ships arrived in England with an immense cargo of furs,
which went to the Company's warehouse, and with French captives from
Nelson, who were lodged in prison at Portsmouth.

The French prisoners were finally set free and made their way to France,
where the story of their wrongs aroused great indignation. D'Iberville,
who was now in Newfoundland, carrying havoc from hamlet to hamlet, was
the man best fitted to revenge the outrage. Five French warships were
made ready--the _Pelican_, the _Palmier_, the _Profond_, the _Violent_,
and the _Wasp_. In April 1697 these were dispatched from France to
Placentia, Newfoundland, there to be taken in command by d'Iberville,
with orders to proceed to Hudson Bay and leave not a vestige remaining
of the English fur trade in the North.

Meanwhile preparations were being made in England to dispatch a mighty
fleet to drive the French for ever from the Bay. Three frigates were
bought and fitted out--the _Dering_, Captain Grimmington; the _Hudson's
Bay_, Captain Smithsend; and the _Hampshire_, Captain Fletcher--each
with guns and sixty fighting men in addition to the regular crew. These
ships were to meet the enemy sooner than was expected. In the last week
of August 1697 the English fleet lay at the west end of Hudson Strait,
befogged and surrounded by ice. Suddenly the fog lifted and revealed to
the astonished Englishmen d'Iberville's fleet of five French warships:
the _Palmier_ to the rear, back in the straits; the _Wasp_ and the
_Violent_, out in open water to the west; the _Pelican_, flying the flag
of the Admiral, to the fore and free from the ice; and the _Profond_,
ice-jammed and within easy shooting range. The Hudson's Bay ships at
once opened fire on the _Profond_, but this only loosened the ice and
let the French ship escape.

D'Iberville's aim was not to fight a naval battle but to secure the fort
at Nelson. Accordingly, spreading the _Pelican's_ sails to the wind, he
steered south-west, leaving the other ships to follow his example. Ice
must have obstructed him, for he did not anchor before Nelson till
September 3. The place was held by the English and he could find no sign
of his other ships. He waited two days, loading cannon, furbishing
muskets, drilling his men, of whom a great many were French wood-runners
sick with scurvy. On the morning of the 5th the lookout called down 'A
sail.' Never doubting but that the sail belonged to one of his own
ships, d'Iberville hoisted anchor and fired cannon in welcome. No
answering shot signalled back. There were sails of three ships now, and
d'Iberville saw three English men-of-war racing over the waves to meet
him, while shouts of wild welcome came thundering from the hostile fort
to his rear.

D'Iberville did not swerve in his course, nor waste ammunition by firing
shots at targets out of range. Forty of his soldiers lay in their berths
disabled by scurvy; but he quickly mustered one hundred and fifty
able-bodied men and ordered ropes to be stretched, for hand hold, across
the slippery decks. The gunners below stripped naked behind the great
cannon. Men were marshalled ready to board and rush the enemy when the
ships locked.

The _Hampshire_, under Captain Fletcher, with fifty-two guns and sixty
fighting men, first came up within range and sent two roaring cannonades
that mowed the masts and wheel-house from the _Pelican_ down to bare
decks. At the same time Grimmington's _Dering_ and Smithsend's _Hudson's
Bay_ circled to the other side of the French ship and poured forth a
pepper of musketry.

D'Iberville shouted orders to the gunners to fire straight into the
_Hampshire's_ hull; sharpshooters were to rake the decks of the two
off-standing English ships, and the Indians were to stand ready to
board. Two hours passed in sidling and shifting; then the death grapple
began. Ninety dead and wounded Frenchmen rolled on the _Pelican's_
blood-stained decks. The fallen sails were blazing. The mast poles were
splintered. Railings went smashing into the sea. The bridge crumbled.
The _Pelican's_ prow had been shop away. D'Iberville was still shouting
to his gunners to fire low, when suddenly the _Hampshire_ ceased firing
and tilted. D'Iberville had barely time to unlock the _Pelican_ from the
death grapple, when the English frigate lurched and, amid hiss and roar
of flame in a wild sea, sank like a stone, engulfing her panic-stricken
crew almost before the French could realize what had happened. Smithsend
at once surrendered the _Hudson's Bay_, and Mike Grimmington fled for
Nelson on the _Dering_.

A fierce hurricane now rose and the English garrison at Nelson had one
hope left--that the wild storm might wreck d'Iberville's ship and its
absent convoys. Smashing billows and ice completed the wreck of the
_Pelican_; nevertheless the French commander succeeded in landing his
men. When the storm cleared, his other ships came limping to his aid.
Nelson stood back four miles from the sea, but by September 11 the
French had their cannon placed under the walls. A messenger was sent to
demand surrender, and he was conveyed with bandaged eyes into the fort.
Grimmington,[3] Smithsend, Bailey, Kelsey--all were for holding out; but
d'Iberville's brother, Serigny, came in under flag of truce and bade
them think well what would happen if the hundred Indians were turned
loose on the fort. Finally the English surrendered and marched out with
the honours of war. Grimmington sailed for England with as many of the
refugees as his ship, the _Dering_, could convey. The rest, led by
Bailey and Smithsend, marched overland south to the fort at Albany.

[3] Grimmington, with the _Dering_, had reached the fort in safety.
Smithsend's captive ship, the _Hudson's Bay_, had been wrecked with the
_Pelican_, but he himself had escaped to the fort.

The loss of Nelson fell heavily on the Hudson's Bay Company. Their ships
were not paid for; dividends stopped; stock dropped in value. But still
they borrowed money to pay £20 each to the sailors. The Treaty of
Ryswick, which halted the war with France, provided that possession on
the Bay should remain as at the time of the treaty, and England held
only Albany.



CHAPTER VIII

EXPANSION AND EXPLORATION


When the House of Orange came to the throne, it was deemed necessary
that the Company's monopoly, originally granted by the Stuarts, should
be confirmed. Nearly all the old shareholders, who had been friends of
the Stuarts, sold out, and in 1697, the year of the disaster related in
the last chapter, the Company applied for an extension of its royal
charter by act of parliament. The fur buyers of London opposed the
application on the grounds that:

(1) The charter conferred arbitrary powers to which a private company
had no right;

(2) The Company was a mere stock-jobbing concern of no benefit to the
public;

(3) Beaver was sold at an extortionate advance; bought at 6d. and sold
for 6s.

(4) The English claim to a monopoly drove the Indians to the French;

(5) Nothing was done to carry out the terms of the charter in finding a
North-West Passage.

All this, however, did not answer the great question: if the Company
retired from the Bay, who or what was to resist the encroachments of the
French? This consideration saved the situation for the adventurers.
Their charter was confirmed.

The opposition to the extension of the charter compelled the Company to
show what it had been doing in the way of exploration; and the journey
of Henry Kelsey, the London apprentice boy, to the country of the
Assiniboines, was put on file in the Company records. Kelsey had not at
first fitted in very well with the martinet rules of fort life at
Nelson, and in 1690, after a switching for some breach of discipline, he
had jumped over the walls and run away with the Indians. Where he went
on this first trip is not known. Some time before the spring of the next
year an Indian runner brought word back to the fort from Kelsey: on
condition of pardon he was willing to make a journey of exploration
inland. The pardon was readily granted and the youth was supplied with
equipment. Accordingly, on July 15, 1691, Kelsey left the camping-place
of the Assiniboines--thought to be the modern Split Lake--and with some
Indian hunters set off overland on foot. It is difficult to follow his
itinerary, for he employs only Indian names in his narrative. He
travelled five hundred miles west of Split Lake presumably without
touching on the Saskatchewan or the Churchill, for his journal gives not
the remotest hint of these rivers. We are therefore led to believe that
he must have traversed the semi-barren country west of Lac du Brochet,
or Reindeer Lake as it is called on the map. He encountered vast herds
of what he called buffalo, though his description reminds us more of the
musk ox of the barren lands than of the buffalo. He describes the summer
as very dry and game as very scarce, on the first part of the trip; and
this also applies to the half-barren lands west of Reindeer Lake.
Hairbreadth escapes were not lacking on the trip of the boy explorer.
Once, completely exhausted from a swift march, Kelsey fell asleep on the
trail. When he awoke, there was not a sign of the straggling hunters.
Kelsey waited for nightfall and by the reflection of the fires in the
sky found his way back to the camp of his companions. At another time he
awoke to find the high dry grass all about him in flames and his musket
stock blazing. Once he met two grizzly bears at close quarters. The
bears had no acquired instinct of danger from powder and stood ground.
The Indians dashed for trees. Kelsey fired twice from behind bunch
willows, wounded both brutes, and won for himself the name of
honour--Little Giant. Joining the main camp of Assiniboines at the end
of August, Kelsey presented the Indian chief with a lace coat, a cap,
guns, knives, and powder, and invited the tribe to go down to the Bay.
The expedition won Kelsey instant promotion.

Our old friend Radisson, from the time we last saw him--when 'the
Committee had discourse with him till dinner'--lived on in London,
receiving a quarterly allowance of £12 10s. from the Company; occasional
gratuities for his services, and presents of furs to Madame Radisson are
also recorded. The last entry of the payment of his quarterly allowance
is dated March 29, 1710. Then, on July 12, comes a momentous entry: 'the
Sec. is ordered to pay Mr Radisson's widow as charity the sum of £6.' At
some time between March 29 and July 12 the old pathfinder had set out on
his last journey. Small profit his heirs reaped for his labours.
Nineteen years later, September 24, 1729, the secretary was again
ordered to pay 'the widow of Peter Radisson £10 as charity, she being
very ill and in great want.'

Meanwhile hostilities had been resumed between France and England; but
the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 brought the game of war again to a pause
and restored Hudson Bay to England. The Company received back all its
forts on the Bay; but the treaty did not define the boundaries to be
observed between the fur traders of Quebec pressing north and the fur
traders of the Bay pressing south, and this unsettled point proved a
source of friction in after years.

After the treaty the adventurers deemed it wise to strengthen all their
forts. Moose, Albany, and Nelson, and two other forts recently
established--Henley House and East Main--were equipped with stone
bastions; and when Churchill was built later, where Munck the Dane had
wintered, its walls of solid stone were made stronger than Quebec's, and
it was mounted with enough large guns to withstand a siege of European
fleets of that day.

The Company now regularly sent ships to Russia; and from Russia the
adventurers must have heard of Peter the Great's plan to find the North
Passage. The finding of the Passage had been one of the reasons for the
granting of the charter, and the fur buyers' petition against the
charter had set forth that small effort had been made in that
direction. Now, at Churchill, Richard Norton and his son Moses, servants
of the Company, had heard strange rumours from the Indians of a region
of rare metals north-west inland. All these things the governor on the
Bay, James Knight, pondered, as he cruised up and down from Albany to
Churchill. Then the gold fever beset the Company. They sent for Knight.
He was commissioned on June 3, 1719, to seek the North-West Passage,
and, incidentally, to look for rare minerals.

Four ships were in the fleet that sailed for Hudson Bay this year.
Knight went on the _Albany_ with Captain Barlow and fifty men. He waited
only long enough at Churchill to leave provisions. Then, with the
_Discovery_, Captain Vaughan, as convoy, he sailed north on the
_Albany_. On his ship were iron-bound caskets to carry back the precious
metals of which he dreamed, and the framework for houses to be erected
for wintering on the South Sea. With him went iron-forgers to work in
the metals, and whalers from Dundee to chase the silver-bottoms of the
Pacific, and a surgeon, to whom was paid the extraordinary salary of £50
on account of the unusual peril of the voyage.

What became of Knight? From the time he left Churchill, his journal
ceases. Another threescore lives paid in toll to the insatiable sea! No
word came back in the summer of 1720, and the adventurers had begun to
look for him to return by way of Asia. Then three years passed, and no
word of Knight or his precious metals. Kelsey cruised north on the
_Prosperous_ in 1719, and Hancock on the _Success_ in 1720; Napper and
Scroggs and Crow on other ships on to 1736, but never a trace did they
find of the argonauts. Norton, whaling in the north in 1726, heard
disquieting rumours from the Indians, but it was not till Hearne went
among the Eskimos almost fifty years later that Knight's fate became
known. His ships had been totally wrecked on the east point of Marble
Island, that white block of granite bare as a gravestone. Out of the
wave-beaten wreckage the Eskimos saw a house arise as if by magic. The
savages fled in terror from such a mystery, and winter--the terrible,
hard, cutting cold of hyperborean storm--raged on the bare, unsheltered
island. When the Eskimos came back in the summer of 1720, a great many
graves had been scooped among the drift sand and boulders. The survivors
were plainly starving, for they fell ravenously on the Eskimos' putrid
whale meat. The next summer only two demented men were alive. They were
clad in rabbit and fox skins. Their hair and beards had grown unkempt,
and they acted like maniacs. Again the superstitious Eskimos fled in
terror. Next summer when the savages came down to the coast no white men
were alive. The wolves had scraped open a score of graves.

It may be stated here that before 1759 the books of the Hudson's Bay
Company show £100,000 spent in bootless searching and voyaging for the
mythical North-West Passage. Nevertheless study-chair explorers who
journeyed round the world on a map, continued to accuse the Company of
purposely refusing to search for the Passage, for fear of disturbing its
monopoly. So violent did the pamphleteers grow that they forced a
parliamentary inquiry in 1749 into the Company's charter and the
Company's record, and what saved the Company then, as in 1713, was the
fact that the adventurers were the great bulwark against French
aggression from Quebec.

Arthur Dobbs, a gentleman and a scholar, had roused the Admiralty to
send two expeditions to search for the North-West Passage. It is
unnecessary for history to concern itself with the 'tempest in a
teapot' that raged round these expeditions. Perhaps the Company did not
behave at all too well when their own captain, Middleton, resigned to
conduct the first one on the _Furnace Bomb_ and the _Discovery_ to the
Bay. Perhaps wrong signals in the harbours did lead the searchers' ships
to bad anchorage. At any rate Arthur Dobbs announced in hysterical fury
that the Company had bribed Middleton with £5000 not to find the
Passage. Middleton had come back in 1742 saying bluntly, in sailor
fashion, that 'there was no passage and never would be.' At once the
Dobbs faction went into a frenzy. Baseless charges were hurled about
with the freedom of bombs in a battle. Parliament was roused to offer a
reward of £20,000 for the discovery of the Passage, and the
indefatigable Dobbs organized an opposition trading company--with a
capital of £10,000--and petitioned parliament for the exclusive trade.
The _Dobbs Galley_, Captain Moon, and the _California_, Captain Smith,
with the _Shark_, under Middleton, as convoy for part of the way, went
out in 1746 with Henry Ellis, agent for Dobbs, aboard. The result of the
voyage need not be told. There was the usual struggle with the ice jam
in the north off Chesterfield Inlet, the usual suffering from scurvy.
Something was accomplished on the exploration of Fox Channel, but no
North-West Passage was found, a fact that told in favour of the Company
when the parliamentary inquiry of 1749 came on.

In the end, an influence stronger than the puerile frenzy of Arthur
Dobbs forced the Company to unwonted activity in inland exploration. La
Vérendrye, the French Canadian, and his sons had come from the St
Lawrence inland and before 1750 had established trading-posts on the Red
river, on the Assiniboine, and on the Saskatchewan. After this fewer
furs came down to the Bay. It was now clear that if the Indians would
not come to the adventurers, the adventurers must go to the Indians. As
a beginning one Anthony Hendry, a boy outlawed from the Isle of Wight
for smuggling, was permitted to go back with the Assiniboines from
Nelson in June 1754.

Hendry's itinerary is not difficult to follow. The Indian place-names
used by him are the Indian place-names used to-day by the Assiniboines.
Four hundred paddlers manned the big brigade of canoes which he
accompanied inland to the modern Oxford Lake and from Oxford to Cross
Lake. The latter name explains itself. Voyageurs could reach the
Saskatchewan by coming on down westward through Playgreen Lake to Lake
Winnipeg, or they could save the long detour round the north end of Lake
Winnipeg--a hundred miles at least, and a dangerous stretch because of
the rocky nature of the coast and the big waves of the shallow lake--by
portaging across to that chain of swamps and nameless lakes, leading
down to the expansion of the Saskatchewan, known under the modern name
of the Pas. It is quite plain from Hendry's narrative that the second
course was followed, for he came to 'the river on which the French have
two forts' without touching Lake Winnipeg; and he gave his distance as
five hundred miles from York,[4] which would bring him by way of Oxford
and Cross Lakes precisely at the Pas.

[4] Nelson. Throughout this narrative Nelson, the name of the port and
river, is generally used instead of York, the name of the fort or
factory.

The Saskatchewan is here best described as an elongated swamp three
hundred miles by seventy, for the current of the river proper loses
itself in countless channels through reed-grown swamps and turquoise
lakes, where the white pelicans stand motionless as rocks and the wild
birds gather together in flocks that darken the sky and have no fear of
man. Between Lake Winnipeg and Cumberland Lake one can literally paddle
for a week and barely find a dry spot big enough for a tent among the
myriad lakes and swamps and river channels overwashing the dank goose
grass. Through these swamps runs the limestone cliff known as the
Pasquia Hills--a blue lift of the swampy sky-line in a wooded ridge. On
this ridge is the Pas fort. All the romance of the most romantic era in
the West clings to the banks of the Saskatchewan--'Kis-sis-kat-chewan
Sepie'--swift angrily-flowing waters, as the Indians call it, with its
countless unmapped lakes and its countless unmapped islands. Up and down
its broad current from time immemorial flitted the war canoes of the
Cree, like birds of prey, to plunder the Blackfeet, or 'Horse Indians.'
Between these high, steep banks came the voyageurs of the old fur
companies--'ti-aing-ti-aing' in monotonous sing-song day and night,
tracking the clumsy York boats up-stream all the way from tide water to
within sight of the Rocky Mountains. Up these waters, with rapids so
numerous that one loses count of them, came doughty traders of the
Company with the swiftest paddlers the West has ever known. The
gentleman in cocked hat and silk-lined overcape, with knee-buckled
breeches and ruffles at wrist and throat, had a habit of tucking his
sleeves up and dipping his hand in the water over the gunnels. If the
ripple did not rise from knuckles to elbows, he forced speed with a
shout of 'Up-up, my men! Up-up!' and gave orders for the regale to go
round, or for the crews to shift, or for the Highland piper to set the
bagpipes skirling.

Hither, then, came Hendry from the Bay, the first Englishman to ascend
the Saskatchewan. 'The mosquitoes are intolerable,' he writes. 'We came
to the French house. Two Frenchmen came to the water side and invited me
into their house. One told me his master and men had gone down to
Montreal with furs and that he must detain me till his return; but
Little Bear, my Indian leader, only smiled and said, "They dare not."'

Somewhere between the north and south branches of the Saskatchewan,
Hendry's Assiniboines met Indians on horseback, the Blackfeet, or
'Archithinues,' as he calls them. The Blackfeet Indians tell us to-day
that the Assiniboines and Crees used to meet the Blackfeet to exchange
the trade of the Bay at Wetaskiwin, 'the Hills of Peace.' This exactly
agrees with the itinerary, described by Hendry, after they crossed the
south branch in September and struck up into the Eagle Hills. Winter was
passed in hunting between the points where Calgary and Edmonton now
stand. Hendry remarks on the outcropping of coal on the north branch.
The same outcroppings can be seen to-day in the high banks below
Edmonton.

It was on October 14 that Hendry was conveyed to the main Blackfeet
camp.

     The leader's tent was large enough to contain fifty persons. He
     received us seated on a buffalo skin, attended by twenty elderly
     men. He made signs for me to sit down on his right hand, which I
     did. Our leaders [the Assiniboines] set several great pipes going
     the rounds and we smoked according to their custom. Not one word
     was spoken. Smoking over, boiled buffalo flesh was served in
     baskets of bent wood. I was presented with ten buffalo tongues. My
     guide informed the leader I was sent by the grand leader who lives
     on the Great Waters to invite his young men down with their furs.
     They would receive in return powder, shot, guns and cloth. He made
     little answer; said it was far off, and his people could not
     paddle. We were then ordered to depart to our tents, which we
     pitched a quarter of a mile outside their lines. The chief told me
     his tribe never wanted food, as they followed the buffalo, but he
     was informed the natives who frequented the settlements often
     starved on their journey, which was exceedingly true.

Hendry gave his position for the winter as eight hundred and ten miles
west of York, or between the sites of modern Edmonton and Battleford.
Everywhere he presented gifts to the Indians to induce them to go down
to the Bay. On the way back to York, the explorers canoed all the way
down the Saskatchewan, and Hendry paused at Fort La Corne, half-way down
to Lake Winnipeg. The banks were high, high as the Hudson river
ramparts, and like those of the Hudson, heavily wooded. Trees and hills
were intensest green, and everywhere through the high banks for a
hundred miles below what is now Edmonton bulged great seams of coal. The
river gradually widened until it was as broad as the Hudson at New York
or the St Lawrence at Quebec. Hawks shrieked from the topmost boughs of
black poplars ashore. Whole colonies of black eagles nodded and babbled
and screamed from the long sand-bars. Wolf tracks dotted the soft mud
of the shore, and sometimes what looked like a group of dogs came down
to the bank, watched the boatmen land, and loped off. These were coyotes
of the prairie. Again and again as the brigades drew in for nooning to
the lee side of some willow-grown island, black-tailed deer leaped out
of the brush almost over their heads, and at one bound were in the midst
of a tangled thicket that opened a magic way for their flight. From
Hendry's winter camp to Lake Winnipeg, a distance of almost a thousand
miles, a good hunter could then, as now, keep himself in food summer and
winter with but small labour.

Most people have a mental picture of the plains country as flat prairie,
with sluggish, winding rivers. Such a picture would not be true of the
Saskatchewan. From end to end of the river, for only one interval is the
course straight enough and are the banks low enough to enable the
traveller to see in a line for eight miles. The river is a continual
succession of half-circles, hills to the right, with the stream curving
into a shadowy lake, or swerving out again in a bend to the low left; or
high-walled sandstone bluffs to the left sending the water wandering out
to the low silt shore on the right. Not river of the Thousand Islands,
like the St Lawrence, but river of Countless Islands, the Saskatchewan
should be called.

More ideal hunting ground could not be found. The hills here are partly
wooded and in the valleys nestle lakes literally black with
wild-fowl--bittern that rise heavy-winged and furry with a boo-m-m; grey
geese holding political caucus with raucous screeching of the honking
ganders; black duck and mallard and teal; inland gulls white as snow and
fearless of hunters; little match-legged phalaropes fishing gnats from
the wet sand.

The wildest of the buffalo hunts used to take place along this section
of the river, or between what are now known as Pitt and Battleford. It
was a common trick of the eternally warring Blackfeet and Cree to lie in
hiding among the woods here and stampede all horses, or for the
Blackfeet to set canoes adrift down the river or scuttle the teepees of
the frightened Cree squaws who waited at this point for their lords'
return from the Bay.

Round that three-hundred mile bend in the river known as 'the Elbow' the
water is wide and shallow, with such numbers of sand-bars and shallows
and islands that one is lost trying to keep the main current. Shallow
water sounds safe and easy for canoeing, but duststorms and wind make
the Elbow the most trying stretch of water in the whole length of the
river. Beyond this great bend, still called the Elbow, the Saskatchewan
takes a swing north-east through the true wilderness primeval. The rough
waters below the Elbow are the first of twenty-two rapids round the same
number of sharp turns in the river. Some are a mere rippling of the
current, more noisy than dangerous; others run swift and strong for
sixteen miles. First are the Squaw Rapids, where the Indian women used
to wait while the men went on down-stream with the furs. Next are the
Cold Rapids, and boats are barely into calm water out of these when a
roar gives warning of more to come, and a tall tree stripped of all
branches but a tufted crest on top--known among Indians as a
'lob-stick,--marks two more rippling rapids. The Crooked Rapids send
canoes twisting round point after point almost to the forks of the South
Saskatchewan. Here, five miles below the modern fur post, at a bend in
the river commanding a great sweep of approach, a gay courtier of France
built Fort La Corne. Who called the bold sand-walls to the right Heart
Hills? And how comes it that here are Cadotte Rapids, named after the
famous voyageur family of Cadottes, whose ancestor gave his life and
his name to one section of the Ottawa?

[Illustration: A CAMP IN THE SWAMP COUNTRY From a photograph]

Forty miles below La Corne is Nepawin, the 'looking-out-place' of the
Indians for the coming trader, where the French had another post. And
still the river widens and widens. Though the country is flat, the level
of the river is ten feet below a crumbling shore worn sheer as a wall,
with not the width of a hand for camping-place below. On a spit of the
north shore was the camping-place known as Devil's Point, where no
voyageur would ever stay because the long point was inhabited by demons.
The bank is steep here, flanked by a swamp of huge spruce trees
criss-crossed by the log-jam of centuries. The reason for the ill omen
of the place is plain enough--a long point running out with three sides
exposed to a bellowing wind.

East of Devil's Point, the Saskatchewan breaks from its river bed and is
lost for a hundred and fifty miles through a country of pure muskeg,
quaking silt soft as sponge, overgrown with reed and goose grass. Here
are not even low banks; there are no banks at all. Canoes are on a level
with the land, and reeds sixteen feet high line the aisled water
channels. One can stand on prow or stern and far as eye can see is
naught but reeds and waterways, waterways and reeds.

Below the muskeg country lies Cumberland Lake. At its widest the lake is
some forty miles across, but by skirting from island to island boatmen
could make a crossing of only twenty-three miles. Far to the south is
the blue rim of the Pas mountain, named from the Indian word Pasquia,
meaning open country.

Hendry's canoes were literally loaded with peltry when he drew in at the
Pas. There he learned a bitter lesson on the meaning of a rival's
suavity. The French plied his Indians with brandy, then picked out a
thousand of his best skins, a trick that cost the Hudson's Bay Company
some of its profit.

On June 1 the canoes once more set out for York. With the rain-swollen
current the paddlers easily made fast time and reached York on June 20.
James Isham, the governor of the fort, realized that his men had brought
down a good cargo of furs, but when Hendry began to talk of Indians on
horseback, he was laughed out of the service. Who had ever heard of
Indians on horseback? The Company voted Hendry £20 reward, and Isham by
discrediting Hendry's report probably thought to save himself the
trouble of going inland.

But the unseen destiny of world movement rudely disturbed the lazy
trader's indolent dream. In four years French power fell at Quebec, and
the wildwood rovers of the St Lawrence, unrestricted by the new
government and soon organized under the leadership of Scottish merchants
at Montreal, invaded the sacred precincts of the Company's inmost
preserve.

In other volumes of this Series we shall learn more of the fur lords and
explorers in the great West and North of Canada; of the fierce warfare
between the rival traders; of the opening up of great rivers to
commerce, and of the founding of colonies that were to grow into
commonwealths. We shall witness the gradual, stubborn, and unwilling
retreat of the fur trade before the onmarching settler, until at last
the Dominion government took over the vast domain known as Rupert's
Land, and the Company, founded by the courtiers of King Charles and
given absolute sway over an empire, fell to the status of an ordinary
commercial organization.



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE


On the era prior to the Cession (1763) very few printed records of the
Hudson's Bay Company exist. Most books on the later period--in which the
conflict with the North-West Company took place--have cursory sketches
of the early era, founded chiefly on data handed down by word of mouth
among the servants and officers of the Company. On this early period the
documents in Hudson's Bay House, London, must always be the prime
authority. These documents consist in the main of the Minute Books of
some two hundred years, the Letter Books, the Stock Books, the Memorial
Books, and the Daily Journals kept from 1670 onwards by chief traders at
every post and forwarded to London. There is also a great mass of
unpublished material bearing on the adventurers in the Public Record
Office, London. Transcripts of a few of these documents are to be found
in the Canadian Archives, Ottawa, and in the Newberry Library, Chicago.
Transcripts of four of the Radisson Journals--copied from the originals
in the Bodleian Library, Oxford--are possessed by the Prince Society,
Boston. Of modern histories dealing with the early era Beckles
Willson's _The Great Company_ (1899), George Bryce's _Remarkable History
of the Hudson's Bay Company_ (1900), and Laut's _Conquest of the Great
North-West_ (1899) are the only works to be taken seriously. Willson's
is marred by many errors due to a lack of local knowledge of the West.
Bryce's work is free of these errors, but, having been issued before the
Archives of Hudson's Bay House were open for more than a few weeks at a
time, it lacks first-hand data from headquarters; though to Bryce must
be given the honour of unearthing much of the early history of Radisson.
Laut's _Conquest of the Great North-West_ contains more of the early
period from first-hand sources than the other two works, and, indeed,
follows up Bryce as pupil to master, but the author perhaps attempted to
cover too vast a territory in too brief a space.

Data on Hudson's tragic voyages come from _Purchas His Pilgrimes_ and
the Hakluyt Society Publications for 1860 edited by Asher. Jens Munck's
voyage is best related in the Hakluyt Publications for 1897. Laut's
_Pathfinders of the West_ gives fullest details of Radisson's various
voyages. The French State Papers for 1670-1700 in the Canadian Archives
give full details of the international quarrels over Radisson's
activities. On the d'Iberville raids, the French State Papers are again
the ultimate authorities, though supplemented by the Jesuit Relations of
those years. The Colonial Documents of New York State (16 vols.),
edited by O'Callaghan, give details of French raids on Hudson Bay.
Radisson's various petitions will be found in Laut's _Conquest of the
Great North-West_. These are taken from the Public Records, London, and
from the Hudson's Bay Company's Archives. Chouart's letters are found in
the Documents de la Nouvelle France, Tome I--1492-1712. Father Sylvie, a
Jesuit who accompanied the de Troyes expedition, gives the fullest
account of the overland raids. These are supplemented by the affidavits
of the captured Englishmen (State Papers, Public Records, London), by La
Potherie's _Histoire de l'Amérique_, by Jeremie's account in the Bernard
Collection of Amsterdam, and by the Relations of Abbé Belmont and
Dollier de Casson. The reprint of the Radisson Journals by the Prince
Society of Boston deserves commendation as a first effort to draw
attention to Radisson's achievements; but the work is marred by the
errors of an English copyist, who evidently knew nothing of Western
Indian names and places, and very plainly mixed his pages so badly that
national events of 1660 are confused with events of 1664, errors
ascribed to Radisson's inaccuracy. Benjamin Sulte, the French-Canadian
historian, in a series of papers for the Royal Society of Canada has
untangled this confusion.

Robson's _Hudson's Bay_ gives details of the 1754 period; but Robson was
a dismissed employee of the Company, and his Relation is so full of
bitterness that it is not to be trusted. The events of the search for a
North-West Passage and the Middleton Controversy are to be found in
Ellis's _Voyage of the Dobbs and California_ (1748) and the
Parliamentary Report of 1749. Later works by fur traders on the spot or
descendants of fur traders--such as Gunn, Hargreaves, Ross--refer
casually to this early era and are valuable for local identification,
but quite worthless for authentic data on the period preceding their own
lives. This does not impair the value of their records of the time in
which they lived. It simply means that they had no data but hearsay on
the early period.

See also in this Series: _The Blackrobes; The Great Intendant; The
Fighting Governor; Pathfinders of the Great Plains; Pioneers of the
Pacific; Adventurers of the Far North; The Red River Colony._



INDEX


  Albanel, Father, at Rupert, 51.

  Albemarle, Duke of, member of Hudson's Bay Company, 36.

  Allen, Captain, take Port Nelson from French, 96;
    killed, 97.

  Arlington, Earl of, 36.

  Assiniboines, or Stone Boilers, tribe of Indians, 29, 104, 106, 112, 115.


  Baffin Bay, named after mate of Bylot's ship, 21.

  Bailey, Captain, sent to Nelson, 94;
    defends fort, 95;
    surrenders, 101-2.

  Bayley, Charles, governor of Rupert, 48;
    on cruise with Radisson, 51;
    accuses Radisson and Groseilliers of duplicity, 52.

  Blackfeet Indians, 115, 116.

  Bond, Captain, 68;
    sails for Hudson Bay, 73;
    captured by d'Iberville, 92.

  Boston, Radisson and Groseilliers at, 32.

  Bridgar, John, governor of Rupert, 60;
    taken prisoner by Radisson, 63;
    released by La Barre, 64;
    again governor, 74;
    ship captured by d'Iberville, 83-4.

  Button, Thomas, sent to search for Hudson, 21.

  Bylot, Robert, his search for Hudson, 21.


  Cadotte Rapids, 120.

  Carteret, Sir George, commissioner, takes Radisson and Groseilliers
    to England, 34.

  Charles II receives Radisson and Groseilliers, 34, 36.

  Charlton Island, where Hudson probably set adrift, 18;
    Captain James winters at, 27;
    spies marooned, 79.

  Chateauguay, d'Iberville's brother, killed at Nelson, 95.

  Chesnaye, Aubert de la, fur trader, 54;
    fits out expedition, 55.

  Chouart, Jean, helps La Chesnaye's expedition, 55;
    tricked on board 'Happy Return,' 69;
    joins Hudson's Bay Company with the intention of betraying it, 70-2.

  Churchill, Lord, Duke of Marlborough, governor of Hudson's Bay Company,
    42, 73, 80.

  Churchill, port, discovery of, 23;
    Danes winter at, 24;
    fur traders at, 26;
    strength of fort at, 107.

  Colbert, minister of France, 53-4.

  Cold Rapids, 120.

  Colleton, Sir Peter, 36.

  Columbia river, explorers on, 7.

  Company of the North, 55-6, 72.

  Craven, Earl of, 36.

  Crooked Rapids, 120.


  Dablon, Father, ascends the Saguenay, 28.

  Danby Island, 19.

  Denonville, M. de, governor of New France, 76.

  Dering, Sir Edward, rewarded for pushing claim against France, 90.

  Digges, English merchant adventurer, 9;
    finances search for Hudson, 21, 22.

  Dobbs, Arthur, and the North-West Passage, 110-12.

  Drax, Lady Margaret, 36.

  Drueilletes, father, ascends the Saguenay, 28.


  Evance, Sir Stephen, governor of Hudson's Bay Company, 74, 81, 92.


  Fletcher, Captain, 98, 100-1.

  Fort Albany, 74, 75, 107;
    Péré imprisoned in, 79.

  Fort Charles, established by Groseilliers, 39, 49.

  Fort Chipewyan, 6.

  Fort Edmonton, 7.

  Fort Frances, story of a resident of, 19.

  Fort Garry, 1.

  Fort La Corne, 120.

  Fort Moose, 47, 81, 83, 107.

  Fox, Captain, 26, 27.

  Frontenac, governor of New France, 51;
    meets Radisson and Groseilliers, 55.


  Geyer, Captain, 68.

  Gibbon, Captain, 21.

  Gillam, Ben, 58;
    arrested in Boston, 64;
    becomes a pirate and is executed, 64.

  Gillam Island, 58.

  Gillam, Zachariah, Boston sea captain, 32;
    in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company, 35, 37, 39, 48;
    at Fort Charles, 52;
    perishes, 61.

  Gorst, Thomas, secretary of the Hudson's Bay Company, 35;
    sails for Hudson Bay, 48.

  Grand Rapids, 3, 4;
    portage, 6.

  Greene, Henry, with Hudson, 10, 15;
    mutiny, 17;
    death, 20.

  Grimmington, Mike, with Ben Gillam, 59;
    with the Hudson's Bay Company, 68, 73;
    taken prisoner, 78;
    re-captures Albany, 93;
    sent to Hudson Bay, 98, 100;
    flees to Nelson, 101;
    sails for England with refugees, 102.

  Groseilliers, Medard Chouart des, French pathfinder, 27;
    veteran of Jesuit missions, 28;
    goes to Hudson Bay with Radisson, 29, 30;
    goes to France for redress for seizure of furs, 31;
    returns to Three Rivers, 32;
    goes to Anticosti, Port Royal, and Boston, 32;
    presented to Charles II, 34;
    receives gold chain and medal, 36;
    explores Hudson Bay country, 39;
    with 1670 expedition, 48;
    back in England demanding better terms, 53;
    goes to New France, 54;
    on fur-trading expedition, 56;
    returns to Quebec and to France, 64, 65;
    retires to home near Three Rivers, 66.


  Hannah Bay, 12, d'Iberville crosses, 83.

  Hayes river, named by Radisson, 49, 57.

  Hayes, Sir James, secretary to Prince Rupert, 36, 37;
    meets Radisson, 67.

  Hearne, hears fate of Knight's party, 109.

  Hendry, Anthony, his inland journey on behalf of the Company, 112-22.

  Henley House, 107.

  Hudson, Henry, his search for North-West Passage, 9-13;
    shipwrecked, 13;
    his hard time on shore with mutinous crew, 13-16;
    cast adrift, 18;
    traditions as to end, 18, 19.

  Hudson's Bay Company, dog brigades of, 1-2;
    extent of empire, 6-7;
    origin and formation of, 34-50;
    engages Radisson, 67;
    dividends and vessels of, 72-5, 102;
    disastrous conflicts with the French, 75-88, 92-102;
    activities of in council, 89-90;
    claims damages against France, 91;
    their charter confirmed, 103-4;
    forts restored by Treaty of Utrecht, 107;
    commissions James Knight to find North-West Passage, 108-10;
    parliamentary inquiry into charter and record of, 110.

  Hume, Captain, 73;
    taken prisoner to Quebec, 78;
    ransomed, 80.


  Iberville, Pierre Le Moyne d', his raids in Hudson Bay, 83-4, 92-3;
    attacks and takes Port Nelson, 94-5;
    in command of five French warships, 97-8;
    naval battle on Hudson Bay, 99-101;
    again takes Nelson, 101-2.

  Isham, James, governor of York, 122.


  James, Captain, 18;
    searches for North-West Passage, 26;
    meets Captain Fox and winters on Charlton Island, 27.

  James, Duke of York (James II), 36, 42.

  Jesuits, their expedition overland to Hudson Bay, 28.

  Juet, mate of 'Discovery,' 10;
    mutinies, 12, 17;
    death, 20.


  Kelsey, Henry, 68;
    sent to Nelson, 94;
    defends fort, 95, 101;
    his journey of exploration, 104-6;
    searches for Knight, 109.

  Kirke, Sir John, 35, 36;
    his claim against France, 54.

  Knight, James, 81;
    governor of Albany, 94;
    commissioned to find North-West Passage, 108;
    his fate, 109.


  La Barre, governor of New France, 63-4.

  La Chesnaye, fur trader, in attack on Hudson Bay posts, 81, 84-7.

  La Forest, surrenders at Nelson, 96.

  La Martinière, 75, 76, 80.

  La Vérendrye, establishes fur-trading posts on Red river, 112.

  Le Meux, Captain, surrenders at Fort Albany, 93.

  Le Moyne brothers, adventurers of New France, 79, 81-3.
    See Iberville, Serigny, and Chateauguay.


  Middleton, Captain, and the North-West Passage, 111.

  Moon, Captain, 93, 111.

  Munck, Jens, winters with ship at Churchill, 23-4;
    record of voyage, 24-6.


  Nelson, Port, Button's crew encamped at, 21;
    fur post, 81;
    captured, 101;
    restored, 107.
    See York Factory.

  Nepawin, 121.

  New France, explorers of, 27;
    Jesuits in, 28;
    fur trade of, 29.

  Nixon, governor at Moose, 74, 75.

  Northern Lights, 14 note.

  North-West Passage, 9, 22, 40, 107, 108, 110, 111.

  Norton, Moses, 108.

  Norton, Richard, 108.


  Outlaw, Captain John, 58, 68, 73, 77.


  Pepys, Samuel, 38.

  Péré, Jean, taken prisoner, 78, 79, 84;
    his release demanded, 86.

  Phipps, William, governor of Port Nelson, 68, 74.

  Portman, John, 35.


  Radisson, Pierre Esprit, explorer, 8, 19;
    hears of Sea of the North, 27;
    refused permission to trade, 29;
    leaves Three Rivers by night, 29;
    goes to Hudson Bay, 29, 30;
    furs seized by governor at Quebec, 31;
    goes to Port Royal and Boston, 32;
    presented to Charles II in England, 34;
    receives gold chain and medal, 36;
    and the Hudson's Bay Company, 40;
    made general superintendent of trade, 48;
    returns to England, 49, marries Mary Kirke, 49;
    suspected of treachery at Rupert, 51-2;
    returns to England, 53;
    joins French Navy, 53;
    goes again to New France, 54;
    leads French expedition to Bay, 55-7;
    explores Hayes river, 57;
    captures Ben Gillam's fort, 61;
    captures Bridgar, 62;
    sets out for Quebec with prisoners and booty, 63;
    La Barre strips him of ship and booty 64;
    returns to Paris, 65;
    ordered by France to return fur posts to Hudson's Bay Company, 66;
    takes oath of allegiance to England, 67;
    returns to the Bay, 68;
    returns to England, 70;
    goes again to Hudson Bay, 73;
    reappointed superintendent of trade, 74;
    price set on his head by France, 76;
    his claims for services repudiated, 91;
    assists Company in claim for damages, 91-2;
    death, 106.

  Randolph, Mr, of the American Plantations, 64.

  Robinson, Sir John, 35, 36.

  Romulus, Peter, surgeon, 35, 48.

  Rupert, 81;
    captured by French, 84.

  Rupert, Prince, 36, 42.

  Rupert's Land, taken over by Dominion Government, 123.

  Ryswick, Treaty of, 91, 102.


  St John, Lake, Jesuit mission near, 28.

  Sandford, Red Cap, 76, 81.

  Sargeant, Henry, Governor at Albany, 74, 75;
    attacked by French 86;
    surrenders, 87.

  Saskatchewan river, 2, 7;
    description, 113-15, 118-21.

  Serigny, d'Iberville's brother, 96, 101.

  Shaftsbury, Earl of, 36.

  Smithsend, Captain, 73;
    taken prisoner, 78;
    from a dungeon in Quebec sends a letter of warning to England, 79;
    reaches England, 81;
    sails for Hudson Bay, 98, 100;
    surrenders ship to d'Iberville, 101;
    escapes to Nelson, 101 note;
    goes to Albany, 102.

  Sorrel, Dame, helps to finance French expedition to Hudson Bay, 55.

  Squaw Rapids, 120.

  Stannard, Captain, 37.

  Strangers, River of, 26.


  Three Rivers, Radisson and Groseilliers return to, 27, 28, 66.

  Troyes, Chevalier de, 79, 81, 83, 85.


  Utrecht, Treaty of, 107.


  Vaughan, Captain, 108.

  Viner, Sir Robert, 35, 36.


  William of Orange, 90.

  Winnipeg, 1.

  Wolstenholme, English merchant, 9;
    financed search for Hudson, 21, 22.


  York Factory, 113 and note 117.
    See Nelson.

  Young, Mr, 35, 67, 91.



Footnotes:

[1] The Northern Lights.


Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty
at the Edinburgh University Press



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

The page numbers of illustrations have been changed to reflect their
new positions following transcription, and they are now indicated
in the illustration list by 'Page' instead of 'Facing Page'.





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