By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Remarkable History of the Hudson's Bay Company - Including that of the French Traders of North-Western - Canada and of the North-West, XY, and Astor Fur Companies
Author: Bryce, George, 1844-1931
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Remarkable History of the Hudson's Bay Company - Including that of the French Traders of North-Western - Canada and of the North-West, XY, and Astor Fur Companies" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

  [Illustration: PRINCE RUPERT,
  _First Governor_.

  _Second Governor_.

  LORD CHURCHILL, _afterwards_
  _Third Governor_.

  _Present Governor_.





  _The French Traders of North-Western Canada
  and of the North-West, X Y, and
  Astor Fur Companies_







The Hudson's Bay Company! What a record this name represents of British
pluck and daring, of patient industry and hardy endurance, of wild
adventure among savage Indian tribes, and of exposure to danger by
mountain, precipice, and seething torrent and wintry plain!

In two full centuries the Hudson's Bay Company, under its original
Charter, undertook financial enterprises of the greatest magnitude,
promoted exploration and discovery, governed a vast domain in the
northern part of the American Continent, and preserved to the British
Empire the wide territory handed over to Canada in 1870. For nearly a
generation since that time the veteran Company has carried on successful
trade in competition with many rivals, and has shown the vigour of youth.

The present History includes not only the record of the remarkable
exploits of this well-known Company, but also the accounts of the daring
French soldiers and explorers who disputed the claim of the Company
in the seventeenth century, and in the eighteenth century actually
surpassed the English adventurers in penetrating the vast interior of
Rupert's Land.

Special attention is given in this work to the picturesque history
of what was the greatest rival of the Hudson's Bay Company, viz. the
North-West Fur Company of Montreal, as well as to the extraordinary
spirit of the X Y Company and the Astor Fur Company of New York.

A leading feature of this book is the adequate treatment for the first
time of the history of the well-nigh eighty years just closing, from the
union of all the fur traders of British North America under the name
of the Hudson's Bay Company. This period, beginning with the career
of the Emperor-Governor. Sir George Simpson (1821), and covering the
life, adventure, conflicts, trade, and development of the vast region
stretching from Labrador to Vancouver Island, and north to the Mackenzie
River and the Yukon, down to the present year, is the most important
part of the Company's history.

For the task thus undertaken the author is well fitted. He has had
special opportunities for becoming acquainted with the history,
position, and inner life of the Hudson's Bay Company. He has lived for
nearly thirty years in Winnipeg, for the whole of that time in sight
of Fort Garry, the fur traders' capital, or what remains of it; he has
visited many of the Hudson's Bay Company's posts from Fort William
to Victoria, in the Lake Superior and the Lake of the Woods region,
in Manitoba, Assiniboia, Alberta, and British Columbia; in those
districts he has run the rapids, crossed the portages, surveyed the
ruins of old forts, and fixed the localities of long-forgotten posts;
he is acquainted with a large number of the officers of the Company,
has enjoyed their hospitality, read their journals, and listened with
interest to their tales of adventure in many out-of-the-way posts; he
is a lover of the romance, and story, and tradition of the fur traders'

The writer has had full means of examining documents, letters, journals,
business records, heirlooms, and archives of the fur traders both in
Great Britain and Canada. He returns thanks to the custodians of many
valuable originals, which he has used, to the Governor of the Hudson's
Bay Company in 1881, Right Hon. G. J. Goschen, who granted him the
privilege of consulting all Hudson's Bay Company records up to the date
of 1821, and he desires to still more warmly acknowledge the permission
given him by the distinguished patron of literature and education, the
present Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, Lord Strathcona and Mount
Royal, to read any documents of public importance in the Hudson's Bay
House in London. This unusual opportunity granted the author was largely
used by him in 1896 and again in 1899.

Taking the advice of his publishers, the author, instead of publishing
several volumes of annals of the Company, has condensed the important
features of the history into one fair-sized volume, but has given in an
Appendix references and authorities which may afford the reader, who
desires more detailed information on special periods, the sources of
knowledge for fuller research.



The favor which has been shown to the "Remarkable History of the
Hudson's Bay Company" has resulted in a large measure from its being
written by a native-born Canadian, who is familiar with much of the
ground over which the Company for two hundred years held sway.

A number of corrections have been made and the book has been brought up
to date for this Edition.

It has been a pleasure to the Author, who has expressed himself without
fear or favor regarding the Company men and their opponents, that he has
received from the greater number of his readers commendations for his
fairness and insight into the affairs of the Company and its wonderful

                                                           GEORGE BRYCE.

            _August 19, 1910_.



  THE FIRST VOYAGE FOR TRADE.                                       PAGE

  Famous Companies--"The old lady of Fenchurch Street"--The first
  voyage--Radisson and Groseilliers--Spurious claim of the French of
  having reached the Bay--"Journal published by Prince Society"--The
  claim invalid--Early voyages of Radisson--The Frenchmen go
  to Boston--Cross over to England--Help from Royalty--Fiery
  Rupert--The King a stockholder--Many hitherto unpublished
  facts--Capt. Zachariah Gillam--Charles Fort built on Rupert
  River--The founder's fame                                            1



  Royal charters--Good Queen Bess--"So miserable a
  wilderness"--Courtly stockholders--Correct spelling--"The nonsense
  of the Charters"--Mighty rivers--Lords of the territory--To
  execute justice--War on infidels--Power to seize--"Skin for
  skin"--Friends of the Red man                                       12



  Rich Mr. Portman--Good ship _Prince Rupert_--The early
  adventurers--"Book of Common Prayer"--Five forts--Voting a
  funeral--Worth of a beaver--To Hudson Bay and back--Selling
  the pelts--Bottles of sack--Fat dividends--"Victorious as
  Cæsar"--"Golden Fruit"                                              20



  Men of high station--Prince Rupert primus--Prince James, "nemine
  contradicente"--The hero of the hour--Churchill River named--Plate
  of solid gold--Off to the tower                                     27



  Peter Radisson and "Mr. Gooseberry" again--Radisson
  _v._ Gillam--Back to France--A wife's influence--Paltry
  vessels--Radisson's diplomacy--Deserts to England--Shameful
  duplicity--"A hogshead of claret"--Adventurers
  appreciative--Twenty-five years of Radisson's life hitherto
  unknown--"In a low and mean condition"--The Company in
  Chancery--Lucky Radisson--A Company pensioner                       33



  The golden lilies in danger--"To arrest Radisson"--The
  land called "Unknown"--A chain of claim--Imaginary
  pretensions--Chevalier de Troyes--The brave Lemoynes--Hudson Bay
  forts captured--A litigious governor--Laugh at treaties--The glory
  of France--Enormous claims--Consequential damages                   47



  The "Grand Monarque" humbled--Caught napping--The Company
  in peril--Glorious Utrecht--Forts restored--Damages to be
  considered--Commission useless                                      56



  Stock rises--Jealousy aroused--Arthur Dobbs, Esq.--An ingenious
  attack--Appeal to the "Old Worthies"--Captain Christopher
  Middleton--Was the Company in earnest? The sloop _Furnace_--Dobbs'
  fierce attack--The great subscription--Independent
  expedition--"Henry Ellis, gentleman"--"Without success"--Dobbs'
  real purpose                                                        61



  "Le roi est mort"--Royalty unfavourable--Earl of
  Halifax--"Company asleep"--Petition to Parliament--Neglected
  discovery--Timidity or caution--Strong "Prince of Wales"--Increase
  of stock--A timid witness--Claims of discovery--To make
  Indians Christians--Charge of disloyalty--New Company promises
  largely--Result nil                                                 70



  The "Western Sea"--Ardent Duluth--"Kaministiquia"--Indian
  boasting--Père Charlevoix--Father Gonor--The man of the
  hour:--Verendrye--Indian map-maker--The North Shore--A line of
  forts--The Assiniboine country--A notable manuscript--A marvellous
  journey--Glory, but not wealth--Post of the Western Sea             78



  Unyielding old Cadot--Competition--The enterprising Henry--Leads
  the way--Thomas Curry--The elder Finlay--Plundering Indians--Grand
  Portage--A famous mart--The plucky Frobishers--The Sleeping Giant
  aroused--Fort Cumberland--Churchill River--Indian rising--The
  deadly smallpox--The whites saved                                   92



  Samuel Hearne--"The Mungo Park of Canada"--Perouse
  complains--The North-West Passage--Indian guides--Two
  failures--Third journey successful--Smokes the
  calumet--Discovers Arctic Ocean--Cruelty to the Eskimos--Error
  in latitude--Remarkable Indian woman--Capture of Prince of Wales
  Fort--Criticism by Umfreville                                      100



  Andrew Graham's "Memo."--Prince of Wales Fort--The
  garrison--Trade--York Factory--Furs--Albany--Subordinate
  forts--Moose--Moses Norton--Cumberland House--Upper
  Assiniboine--Rainy Lake--Brandon House--Red River--Conflict of the
  Companies                                                          109



  Hudson's Bay Company aggressive--The great McTavish--The
  Frobishers--Pond and Pangman dissatisfied--Gregory and
  McLeod--Strength of the North-West Company--Vessels to be
  built--New route from Lake Superior sought--Good will at
  times--Bloody Pond--Wider union, 1787--Fort Alexandria--Mouth of
  the Souris--Enormous fur trade--Wealthy Nor'-Westers--"The Haunted
  House"                                                             116



  A young Highlander--To rival Hearne--Fort Chipewyan
  built--French Canadian voyageurs--Trader Leroux--Perils
  of the route--Post erected on Arctic Coast--Return
  journey--Pond's miscalculations--Hudson Bay Turner--Roderick
  McKenzie's hospitality--Alexander Mackenzie--Astronomy and
  mathematics--Winters on Peace River--Terrific journey--The Pacific
  Slope--Dangerous Indians--Pacific Ocean, 1793--North-West Passage
  by land--Great achievement--A notable book                         124



  Grand Portage on American soil--Anxiety about the
  boundary--David Thompson, astronomer and surveyor--His
  instructions--By swift canoe--The land of beaver--A dash
  to the Mandans--Stone Indian House--Fixes the boundary
  at Pembina--Sources of the Mississippi--A marvellous
  explorer--Pacific Slope explored--Thompson down the Kootenay
  and Columbia--Fiery Simon Fraser in New Caledonia--Discovers
  Fraser River--Sturdy John Stuart--Thompson River--Bourgeois
  Quesnel--Transcontinental expeditions                              133



  "Le Marquis" Simon McTavish unpopular--Alexander Mackenzie, his
  rival--Enormous activity of the "Potties"--Why called X Y--Five
  rival posts at Souris--Sir Alexander, the silent partner--Old
  Lion of Montreal roused--"Posts of the King"--Schooner sent to
  Hudson Bay--Nor'-Westers erect two posts on Hudson Bay--Supreme
  folly--Old and new Nor'-Westers unite--List of partners            148



  New route to Kaministiquia--Vivid sketch of Fort
  William--"Cantine Salope"--Lively Christmas week--The feasting
  partners--Ex-Governor Masson's good work--Four great Mackenzies--A
  literary bourgeois--Three handsome demoiselles--"The man in the
  moon"--Story of "Bras Croche"--Around Cape Horn--Astoria taken
  over--A hot-headed trader--Sad case of "Little Labrie"--Punch on
  New Year's Day--The heart of a "vacher"                            155



  Harmon and his book--An honest man--"Straight as an arrow"--New
  views--An uncouth giant--"Gaelic, English, French, and Indian
  oaths"--McDonnell, "Le Prêtre"--St. Andrew's Day--"Fathoms of
  tobacco"--Down the Assiniboine--An entertaining journal--A good
  editor--A too frank trader--"Gun fire ten yards away"--Herds of
  buffalo--Packs and pemmican--"The fourth Gospel"--Drowning of
  Henry--"The weather cleared up"--Lost for forty days--"Cheepe,"
  the corpse--Larocque and the Mandans--McKenzie and his half-breed
  children                                                           166



  Dashing French trader--"The country of fashion"--An air of great
  superiority--The road is that of heaven--Enough to intimidate
  a Cæsar--"The Bear" and the "Little Branch"--Yet more rum--A
  great Irishman--"In the wigwam of Wabogish dwelt his beautiful
  daughter"--Wedge of gold--Johnston and Henry Schoolcraft--Duncan
  Cameron on Lake Superior--His views of trade--Peter Grant, the
  ready writer--Paddling the canoe--Indian folk-lore--Chippewa
  burials--Remarkable men and great financiers, marvellous
  explorers, facile traders                                          178



  North-West and X Y Companies unite--Recalls the Homeric
  period--Feuds forgotten--Men perform prodigies--The new fort
  re-christened--Vessel from Michilimackinac--The old canal--Wills
  builds Fort Gibraltar--A lordly sway--The "Beaver Club"--Sumptuous
  table--Exclusive society--"Fortitude in Distress"--Political
  leaders in Lower Canada                                            189



  Old John Jacob Astor--American Fur Company--The Missouri
  Company--A line of posts--Approaches the Russians--Negotiates
  with Nor'-Westers--Fails--Four North-West officials join
  Astor--Songs of the voyageurs--True Britishers--Voyage
  of the _Tonquin_--Rollicking Nor'-Westers in Sandwich
  Islands--Astoria built--David Thompson appears--Terrible end of
  the _Tonquin_--Astor's overland expedition--Washington Irving's
  "Astoria, a romance"--The _Beaver_ rounds the Cape--McDougall and
  his smallpox phial--The _Beaver_ sails for Canton                  193



  Alexander Mackenzie's book--Lord Selkirk interested--Emigration
  a boon--Writes to Imperial Government--In 1802 looks to
  Lake Winnipeg--Benevolent project of trade--Compelled to
  choose Prince Edward Island--Opinion as to Hudson's Bay
  Company Charter--Nor'-Westers alarmed--Hudson's Bay Company's
  Stock--Purchases Assiniboia--Advertises the new colony--Religion
  no disqualification--Sends first colony--Troubles of the
  project--Arrive at York Factory--The winter--The mutiny--"Essence
  of Malt"--Journey inland--A second party--Third party under
  Archibald Macdonald--From Helmsdale--The number of colonists       200



  Nor'-Westers oppose the colony--Reason why--A considerable
  literature--Contentions of both parties--Both in fault--Miles
  Macdonell's mistake--Nor'-Wester arrogance--Duncan Cameron's
  ingenious plan--Stirring up the Chippewas--Nor'-Westers
  warn colonists to depart--McLeod's hitherto unpublished
  narrative--Vivid account of a brave defence--Chain shot from
  the blacksmith's smithy--Fort Douglas begun--Settlers driven
  out--Governor Semple arrives--Cameron last Governor of Fort
  Gibraltar--Cameron sent to Britain as a prisoner--Fort Gibraltar
  captured--Fort Gibraltar decreases, Fort Douglas increases--Free
  traders take to the plains--Indians favour the colonists           215



  Leader of the Bois Brûlés--A candid letter--Account of a
  prisoner--"Yellow Head"--Speech to the Indians--The chief knows
  nothing--On fleet Indian ponies--An eye-witness in Fort Douglas--A
  rash Governor--The massacre--"For God's sake save my life"--The
  Governor and twenty others slain--Colonists driven out--Eastern
  levy meets the settlers--Effects seized--Wild revelry--Chanson of
  Pierre Falcon                                                      229



  The Earl in Montreal--Alarming news--Engages a body of
  Swiss--The De Meurons--Embark for the North-West--Kawtawabetay's
  story--Hears of Seven Oaks--Lake Superior--Lord Selkirk--A doughty
  Douglas--Seizes Fort William--Canoes upset and Nor'-Westers
  drowned--"A banditti"--The Earl's blunder--A winter march--Fort
  Douglas recaptured--His Lordship soothes the settlers--An Indian
  treaty--"The Silver Chief"--The Earl's note-book                   238



  British law disgraced--Governor Sherbrooke's distress--A
  commission decided on--Few unbiassed Canadians--Colonel Coltman
  chosen--Over ice and snow--Alarming rumours--The Prince
  Regent's orders--Coltman at Red River--The Earl submissive--The
  Commissioner's report admirable--The celebrated Reinhart
  case--Disturbing lawsuits--Justice perverted--A store-house of
  facts--Sympathy of Sir Walter Scott--Lord Selkirk's death--Tomb at
  Orthes, in France                                                  252



  The crisis reached--Consequences of Seven Oaks--The
  noble Earl--His generous spirit--His mistakes--Determined
  courage--Deserves the laurel crown--The first
  Governor--Macdonell's difficulties--His unwise step--A captain
  in red--Cameron's adroitness--A wearisome imprisonment--Last
  governor of Fort Gibraltar--The Metis chief--Half-breed son of old
  Cuthbert--A daring hunter--Warden of the plains--Lord Selkirk's
  agent--A Red River patriarch--A faithful witness--The French
  bard--Western war songs--Pierriche Falcon                          260



  Both Companies in danger--Edward Ellice, a mediator--George
  Simpson, the man of destiny--Old feuds buried--Gatherings
  at Norway House--Governor Simpson's skill--His marvellous
  energy--Reform in trade--Morality low--A famous canoe
  voyage--Salutes fired--Pompous ceremony at Norway House--Strains
  of the bagpipe--Across the Rocky Mountains--Fort Vancouver
  visited--Great executive ability--The governor knighted--Sir
  George goes round the world--Troubles of a book--Meets the
  Russians--Estimate of Sir George                                   270



  Lonely trading posts--Skilful letter writers--Queer old
  Peter Fidler--Famous library--A remarkable will--A stubborn
  Highlander--Life at Red River--Badly-treated Pangman--Founding
  trading houses--Beating up recruits--Priest Provencher--A
  fur-trading mimic--Life far north--"Ruled with a rod of
  iron"--Seeking a fur country--Life in the canoe--A trusted
  trader--Sheaves of letters--A find in Edinburgh--Faithful
  correspondents--The Bishop's cask of wine--Red River, a "land
  of Canaan"--Governor Simpson's letters--The gigantic Archdeacon
  writes--"MacArgrave's" promotion--Kindly Sieveright--Traders and
  their books                                                        283



  Lachine, the fur traders' Mecca--The departure--The flowing
  bowl--The canoe brigade--The voyageurs' song--"En roulant ma
  boule"--Village of St. Anne's--Legend of the church--The sailors'
  guardian--Origin of "Canadian Boat Song"--A loud invocation--"A
  la Claire Fontaine"--"Sing, nightingale"--At the rapids--The
  ominous crosses--"Lament of Cadieux"--A lonely maiden sits--The
  Wendigo--Home of the Ermatingers--A very old canal--The rugged
  coast--Fort William reached--A famous gathering--The joyous return 304



  The North-West Passage again--Lieutenant John Franklin's
  land expedition--Two lonely winters--Hearne's mistake
  corrected--Franklin's second journey--Arctic sea coast
  explored--Franklin knighted--Captain John Ross by sea--Discovers
  magnetic pole--Magnetic needle nearly perpendicular--Back seeks
  for Ross--Dease and Simpson sent by Hudson's Bay Company to
  explore--Sir John in _Erebus_ and _Terror_--The Paleocrystic
  Sea--Franklin never returns--Lady Franklin's devotion--The
  historic search--Dr. Rae secures relics--Captain McClintock finds
  the cairn and written record--Advantages of the search             315



  A disputed boundary--Sources of the Mississippi--The fur traders
  push southward--Expedition up the Missouri--Lewis and Clark
  meet Nor'-Westers--Claim of United States made--Sad death of
  Lewis--Lieutenant Pike's journey--Pike meets fur traders--Cautious
  Dakotas--Treaty with Chippewas--Violent death--Long and Keating
  fix 49 deg. N.--Visit Fort Garry--Follow old fur traders'
  route--An erratic Italian--Strange adventures--Almost finds
  source--Beltrami County--Cass and Schoolcraft fail--Schoolcraft
  afterwards succeeds--Lake Itasca--Curious origin of name--The
  source determined                                                  326



  Fascination of an unknown land--Adventure, science, or
  gain--Lieutenant Lefroy's magnetic survey--Hudson's Bay
  Company assists--Winters at Fort Chipewyan--First scientific
  visit to Peace River--Notes lost--Not "gratuitous canoe
  conveyance"--Captain Palliser and Lieutenant Hector--Journey
  through Rupert's Land--Rocky Mountain passes--On to the coast--A
  successful expedition--Hind and Dawson--To spy out the land for
  Canada--The fertile belt--Hind's description good--Milton and
  Cheadle--Winter on the Saskatchewan--Reach Pacific Ocean in a
  pitiable condition--Captain Butler--The horse Blackie and dog
  "Cerf Vola"--Fleming and Grant--"Ocean to ocean"--"Land fitted for
  a healthy and hardy race"--Waggon road and railway                 337




  Chiefly Scottish and French settlers--Many
  hardships--Grasshoppers--Yellow Head--"Gouverneur
  Sauterelle"--Swiss settlers--Remarkable parchment--Captain
  Bulger, a military governor--Indian troubles--Donald McKenzie,
  a fur trader governor--Many projects fail--The flood--Plenty
  follows--Social condition--Lower Fort built--Upper Fort
  Garry--Council of Assiniboia--The settlement organized--Duncan
  Finlayson governor--English farmers--Governor Christie--Serious
  epidemic--A regiment of regulars--The unfortunate major--The
  people restless                                                    348



  A picturesque life--The prairie hunters and
  traders--Gaily-caparisoned dog trains--The great winter
  packets--Joy in the lonely forts--The summer trade--The York boat
  brigade--Expert voyageurs--The famous Red River cart--Shagganappe
  ponies--The screeching train--Tripping--The western cayuse--The
  great buffalo hunt--Warden of the plains--Pemmican and fat--The
  return in triumph                                                  360



  The bleak shores unprogressive--Now as at the beginning--York
  Factory--Description of Ballantyne--The weather--Summer comes with
  a rush--Picking up subsistence--The Indian trade--Inhospitable
  Labrador--Establishment of Ungava Bay--McLean at Fort
  Chimo--Herds of cariboo--Eskimo rafts--"Shadowy Tartarus"--The
  king's domains--Mingan--Mackenzie--The gulf settlements--The
  Moravians--Their four missions--Rigolette, the chief trading
  post--A school for developing character--Chief Factor Donald A.
  Smith--Journeys along the coast--A barren shore                    376



  Peter Pond reaches Athabasca River--Fort Chipewyan
  established--Starting point of Alexander Mackenzie--The
  Athabasca Library--The Hudson's Bay Company roused--Conflict
  at Fort Wedderburn--Suffering--The dash up the Peace
  River--Fort Dunvegan--Northern extension--Fort Resolution--Fort
  Providence--The great river occupied--Loss of life--Fort
  Simpson, the centre--Fort Reliance--Herds of cariboo--Fort
  Norman built--Fort Good Hope--The Northern Rockies--The Yukon
  reached and occupied--The fierce Liard River--Fort Halkett in the
  Mountains--Robert Campbell comes to the Stikine--Discovers the
  Upper Yukon--His great fame--The districts--Steamers on the water
  stretches                                                          386



  Extension of trade in New Caledonia--The Western
  Department--Fort Vancouver built--Governor's residence and
  Bachelors' Hall--Fort Colville--James Douglas, a man of note--A
  dignified official--An Indian rising--A brave woman--The fertile
  Columbia Valley--Finlayson, a man of action--Russian fur
  traders--Treaty of Alaska--Lease of Alaska to the Hudson's Bay
  Company--Fort Langley--The great farm--Black at Kamloops--Fur
  trader _v._ botanist--"No soul above a beaver's skin"--A tragic
  death--Chief Nicola's eloquence--A murderer's fate                 399



  Fort Vancouver on American soil--Chief Factor Douglas
  chooses a new site--Young McLoughlin killed--Liquor selling
  prohibited--Dealing with the Songhies--A Jesuit father--Fort
  Victoria--Finlayson's skill--Chinook jargon--The brothers
  Ermatinger--A fur-trading Junius--"Fifty-four, forty, or
  fight"--Oregon Treaty--Hudson's Bay Company indemnified--The
  waggon road--A colony established--First governor--Gold
  fever--British Columbia--Fort Simpson--Hudson's Bay Company in the
  interior--The forts--A group of worthies--Service to Britain--The
  coast becomes Canadian                                             408



  A vast region--First spiritual adviser--A _locum tenens_--Two
  French Canadian priests--St. Boniface founded--Missionary
  zeal in Mackenzie River district--Red River parishes--The
  great Archbishop Taché--John West--Archdeacon Cochrane, the
  founder--John McCallum--Bishop Anderson--English Missionary
  Societies--Archbishop Machray--Indian Missions--John Black, the
  Presbyterian apostle--Methodist Missions on Lake Winnipeg--The
  Cree syllabic--Chaplain Staines--Bishop Bridge--Missionary
  Duncan--Metlakahtla--Roman Catholic coast missions--Church of
  England bishop--Diocese of New Westminster--Dr. Evans--Robert
  Jamieson--Education                                                420



  Company's Indian policy--Character of officers--A race of
  hunters--Plan of advances--Charges against the Company--Liquor
  restriction--Capital punishment--Starving Indians--Diseased and
  helpless--Education and religion--The age of missions--Sturdy
  Saulteaux--The Muskegons--Wood Crees--Wandering Plain Crees--The
  Chipewyans--Wild Assiniboines--Blackfoot Indians--Polyglot
  coast tribes--Eskimos--No Indian war--No police--Pliable and
  docile--Success of the Company                                     431




  Discontent on Red River--Queries to the Governor--A courageous
  Recorder--Free Trade in furs held illegal--Imprisonment--New
  land deed--Enormous freights--Petty revenge--Turbulent
  pensioners--Heart burnings--Heroic Isbister--Half-breed
  memorial--Mr. Beaver's letter--Hudson's Bay Company notified--Lord
  Elgin's reply--Voluminous correspondence--Company's full
  answer--Colonel Crofton's statement--Major Caldwell, a
  partisan--French petition--Nearly a thousand signatures--Love,
  a factor--The elder Riel--A court scene--Violence--"Vive la
  liberté!"--The Recorder checked--A new judge--Unruly Corbett--The
  prison broken--Another rescue--A valiant doctor--A Red River
  Nestor                                                             438



  Renewal of licence--Labouchere's letter--Canada claims to
  Pacific Ocean--Commissioner Chief-Justice Draper--Rests on
  Quebec Act, 1774--Quebec overlaps Indian territories--Company
  loses Vancouver Island--Cauchon's memorandum--Committee
  of 1857--Company on trial--A brilliant committee--Four
  hundred folios of evidence--To transfer Red River and
  Saskatchewan--Death of Sir George--Governor Dallas--A cunning
  scheme--Secret negotiations--The Watkin Company floated--Angry
  winterers--Dallas's soothing circular--The old order
  still--Ermatinger's letters--McDougall's resolutions--Cartier and
  McDougall as delegates--Company accepts the terms                  448



  Transfer Act passed--A moribund Government--The Canadian
  surveying party--Causes of the rebellion--Turbulent
  Metis--American interference--Disloyal ecclesiastics--"Governor"
  McDougall--Riel and his rebel band--A blameworthy governor--The
  "blawsted fence"--Seizure of Fort Garry--Riel's ambitions--Loyal
  rising--Three wise men from the East--_The New Nation_--A
  winter meeting--Bill of Rights--A Canadian shot--The Wolseley
  expedition--Three renegades slink away--The end of Company
  rule--The new Province of Manitoba                                 459



  A great land company--Fort Garry dismantled--The new
  buildings--New _v._ old--New life in the Company--Palmy days
  are recalled--Governors of ability--The present distinguished
  Governor--Vaster operations--Its eye not dimmed                    472



  The Greater Canada--Wide wheat fields--Vast pasture
  lands--Huronian mines--The Kootenay riches--Yukon
  nuggets--Forests--Iron and coal--Fisheries--Two great
  cities--Towns and villages--Anglo-Saxon institutions--The great
  outlook                                                            477


  A.--AUTHORITIES AND REFERENCES                                     483

  B.--SUMMARY OF LIFE OF PIERRE ESPRIT RADISSON                      489

  C.--COMPANY POSTS IN 1856, WITH INDIANS                            491

  D.--CHIEF FACTORS (1821-1896)                                      493

  E.--RUSSIAN AMERICA (ALASKA)                                       495

  F.--THE CREE SYLLABIC CHARACTER                                    497


  INDEX                                                              499



  Four great Governors of the Hudson's Bay Company        _Frontispiece_

  Map of Hudson Bay and Straits                                        6

  Arms of the Hudson's Bay Company                                    18

  Le Moyne D'Iberville                                                52

  Comedey de Maisonneuve                                              82

  Junction of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence                             94

  Map of Route of Scottish Merchants up the Ottawa to Lake
    Athabasca                                                         96

  Prince of Wales Fort                                               108

  The Lac des Allumettes                                             116

  Sir Alexander Mackenzie                                            130

  Daniel William Harmon, Esq.                                        130

  Johann Jacob Astor                                                 194

  Casanov, Trader and Chief                                          194

  Fort Douglas                                                       226

  Seven Oaks Monument                                                232

  Lord Selkirk                                                       260

  Sir George Simpson                                                 260

  Fort William, Lake Superior                                        272

  Red River Note                                                     284

  I.--Portage                                                        304

  II.--Décharge                                                      304

  Block House of old H.B. Company Post                               310

  Map of the Far North                                               314

  Searchers in the North                                             320

  Fort Edmonton, on the North Saskatchewan                           336

  Jasper House, Rocky Mountains                                      336

  Map of Labrador, and the King's Domains                            378

  Map of Mackenzie River and the Yukon                               388

  Sir James Douglas                                                  398

  Fort Victoria, B.C.                                                406

  Indians of the Plains                                              432

  Council of Hudson's Bay Company Commissioned Officers held in
    Winnipeg, 1887                                                   442

  Fort Garry--Winter Scenes                                          460

  Commissioner Chipman (Winnipeg)                                    470

  Hudson's Bay Company's Stores and General Offices, Winnipeg        472

  Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C.                               478




     Famous Companies--"The old lady of Fenchurch Street"--The first
     voyage--Radisson and Groseilliers--Spurious claim of the French of
     having reached the Bay--"Journal published by Prince Society"--The
     claim invalid--Early voyages of Radisson--The Frenchmen go
     to Boston--Cross over to England--Help from Royalty--Fiery
     Rupert--The King a stockholder--Many hitherto unpublished
     facts--Capt. Zachariah Gillam--Charles Fort built on Rupert
     River--The founder's fame.

Charles Lamb--"delightful author"--opens his unique "Essays of Elia"
with a picturesque description of the quaint "South Sea House."
Threadneedle Street becomes a magnetic name as we wander along it
toward Bishopsgate Street "from the Bank, thinking of the old house
with the oaken wainscots hung with pictures of deceased governors
and sub-governors of Queen Anne, and the first monarchs of the
Brunswick dynasty--huge charts which subsequent discoveries have made
antiquated--dusty maps, dim as dreams, and soundings of the Bay of
Panama." But Lamb, after all, was only a short time in the South Sea
House, while for more than thirty years he was a clerk in the India
House, partaking of the genius of the place.

The India House was the abode of a Company far more famous than the
South Sea Company, dating back more than a century before the "Bubble"
Company, having been brought into existence on the last day of the
sixteenth century by good Queen Bess herself. To a visitor, strolling
down Leadenhall Street, it recalls the spirit of Lamb to turn into
East India Avenue, and the mind wanders back to Clive and Burke of
Macaulay's brilliant essay, in which he impales, with balanced phrase
and perfect impartiality, Philip Francis and Warren Hastings alike.

The London merchants were mighty men, men who could select their agents,
and send their ships, and risk their money on every sea and on every
shore. Nor was this only for gain, but for philanthropy as well. Across
yonder is the abode of the New England Company, founded in 1649, and
re-established by Charles II. in 1661--begun and still existing with its
fixed income "for the propagation of the Gospel in New England and the
adjoining parts of America," having had as its first president the Hon.
Robert Boyle; and hard by are the offices of the Canada Company, now
reaching its three-quarters of a century.

Not always, however, as Macaulay points out, did the trading Companies
remember that the pressure on their agents abroad for increased returns
meant the temptation to take doubtful or illicit methods to gain their
ends. They would have recoiled from the charge of Lady Macbeth,--

    "Wouldst not play false,
    And yet wouldst wrongly win."

Yet on the whole the Merchant Companies of London bear an honourable
record, and have had a large share in laying the foundations of
England's commercial greatness.

Wandering but a step further past East India Avenue, at the corner
of Lime and Leadenhall Streets, we come to-day upon another building
sitting somewhat sedately in the very heart of stirring and living
commerce. This is the Hudson's Bay House, the successor of the old house
on Fenchurch Street, the abode of another Company, whose history goes
back for more than two centuries and a quarter, and which is to-day the
most vigorous and vivacious of all the sisterhood of companies we have
enumerated. While begun as a purely trading Company, it has shown in
its remarkable history not only the shrewdness and business skill of
the race, called by Napoleon a "nation of shopkeepers," but it has been
the governing power over an empire compassing nearly one half of North
America, it has been the patron of science and exploration, the defender
of the British flag and name, and the fosterer, to a certain extent, of
education and religion.

Not only on the shores of Hudson Bay, but on the Pacific coast, in
the prairies of Red River, and among the snows of the Arctic slope,
on the rocky shores of Labrador and in the mountain fastnesses of the
Yukon, in the posts of Fort William and Nepigon, on Lake Superior, and
in far distant Athabasca, among the wild Crees, or greasy Eskimos, or
treacherous Chinooks, it has floated the red cross standard, with the
well-known letters H. B. C.--an "open sesame" to the resources of a wide
extent of territory.

The founding of the Company has features of romance. These may well
be detailed, and to do so leads us back several years before the
incorporation of the Company by Charles II. in 1670. The story of the
first voyage and how it came about is full of interest.

Two French Protestant adventurers--Medard Chouart and Pierre Esprit
Radisson--the former born near Meaux, in France, and the other a
resident of St. Malo, in Brittany--had gone to Canada about the middle
of the seventeenth century. Full of energy and daring, they, some years
afterwards, embarked in the fur trade, and had many adventures.

Radisson was first captured by the Iroquois, and adopted into one of
their tribes. After two years he escaped, and having been taken to
Europe, returned to Montreal. Shortly afterwards he took part in the
wars between the Hurons and Iroquois. Chouart was for a time assistant
in a Jesuit mission, but, like most young men of the time, yielded to
the attractions of the fur trade. He had married first the daughter of
Abraham Martin, the French settler, after whom the plains of Abraham
at Quebec are named. On her death Chouart married the widowed sister
of Radisson, and henceforth the fortunes of the two adventurers were
closely bound up together. The marriage of Chouart brought him a
certain amount of property, he purchased land out of the proceeds of
his ventures, and assumed the title of Seignior, being known as "Sieur
des Groseilliers." In the year 1658 Groseilliers and Radisson went
on the third expedition to the west, and returned after an absence
of two years, having wintered at Lake Nepigon, which they called
"Assiniboines." It is worthy of note that Radisson frankly states in the
account of his third voyage that they had not been in the Bay of the
North (Hudson Bay).

The fourth voyage of the two partners in 1661 was one of an eventful
kind, and led to very important results. They had applied to the
Governor for permission to trade in the interior, but this was refused,
except on very severe conditions. Having had great success on their
previous voyage, and with the spirit of adventure inflamed within them,
the partners determined to throw off all authority, and at midnight
departed without the Governor's leave, for the far west. During an
absence of two years the adventurers turned their canoes northward, and
explored the north shore of Lake Superior.

It is in connection with this fourth voyage (1661) that the question has
been raised as to whether Radisson and his brother-in-law Groseilliers
visited Hudson Bay by land. The conflicting claim to the territory about
Hudson Bay by France and England gives interest to this question. Two
French writers assert that the two explorers had visited Hudson Bay by
land. These are, the one, M. Bacqueville de la Potherie, Paris; and the
other, M. Jeremie, Governor of the French ports in Hudson Bay. Though
both maintain that Hudson Bay was visited by the two Frenchmen, Radisson
and Groseilliers, yet they differ entirely in details, Jeremie stating
that they captured some Englishmen there, a plain impossibility.

Oldmixon, an English writer, in 1708, makes the following
statement:--"Monsieur Radisson and Monsieur Gooselier, meeting with some
savages in the Lake of the Assinipouals, in Canada, they learnt of them
that they might go by land to the bottom of the bay, where the English
had not yet been. Upon which they desired them to conduct them thither,
and the savages accordingly did it." Oldmixon is, however, inaccurate
in some other particulars, and probably had little authority for this


The question arises in Radisson's Journals, which are published in the
volume of the Prince Society.

For so great a discovery the passage strikes us as being very short and
inadequate, and no other reference of the kind is made in the voyages.
It is as follows, being taken from the fourth voyage, page 224:--

"We went away with all hast possible to arrive the sooner at ye
great river. We came to the seaside, where we finde an old house all
demolished and battered with boullets. We weare told yt those that
came there were of two nations, one of the wolf, and the other of
the long-horned beast. All those nations are distinguished by the
representation of the beasts and animals. They tell us particularities
of the Europians. We know ourselves, and what Europ is like, therefore
in vaine they tell us as for that. We went from isle to isle all that
summer. We pluckt abundance of ducks, as of other sort of fowles; we
wanted not fish, nor fresh meat. We weare well beloved, and weare
overjoyed that we promised them to come with such shipps as we invented.
This place has a great store of cows. The wild men kill not except for
necessary use. We went further in the bay to see the place that they
weare to pass that summer. That river comes from the lake, and empties
itself in ye river of Sagnes (Saguenay) called Tadousac, wch is a
hundred leagues in the great river of Canada, as where we are in ye Bay
of ye North. We left in this place our marks and rendezvous. The wild
men yt brought us defended us above all things, if we would come quietly
to them, that we should by no means land, & so goe to the river to the
other side, that is to the North, towards the sea, telling us that those
people weare very treacherous."


We would remark as follows:--

1. The fourth voyage may be traced as a journey through Lake Superior,
past the pictured rocks on its south side, beyond the copper deposits,
westward to where there are prairie meadows, where the Indians grow
Indian corn, and where elk and buffalo are found, in fact in the region
toward the Mississippi River.

2. The country was toward that of the Nadoneseronons, i.e. the Nadouessi
or Sioux; north-east of them were the Christinos or Crees; so that the
region must have been what we know at present as Northern Minnesota.
They visited the country of the Sioux, the present States of Dakota,
and promised to visit the Christinos on their side of the upper lake,
evidently Lake of the Woods or Winnipeg.

3. In the passage before us they were fulfilling their promise. They
came to the "seaside." This has given colour to the idea that Hudson Bay
is meant. An examination of Radisson's writing shows us, however, that
he uses the terms lake and sea interchangeably. For example, in page
155, he speaks of the "Christinos from the bay of the North Sea," which
could only refer to the Lake of the Woods or Lake Winnipeg. Again, on
page 134, Radisson speaks of the "Lake of the Hurrons which was upon the
border of the sea," evidently meaning Lake Superior. On the same page,
in the heading of the third voyage, he speaks of the "filthy Lake of the
Hurrons, Upper Sea of the East, and Bay of the north," and yet no one
has claimed that in this voyage he visited Hudson Bay. Again, elsewhere,
Radisson uses the expression, "salted lake" for the Atlantic, which must
be crossed to reach France.

4. Thus in the passage "the ruined house on the seaside" would seem
to have been one of the lakes mentioned. The Christinos tell them of
Europeans, whom they have met a few years before, perhaps an earlier
French party on Lake Superior or at the Sault. The lake or sea abounded
in islands. This would agree with the Lake of the Woods, where the
Christinos lived, and not Hudson Bay. Whatever place it was it had a
great store of cows or buffalo. Lake of the Woods is the eastern limit
of the buffalo. They are not found on the shores of Hudson Bay.

5. It will be noticed also that he speaks of a river flowing from the
lake, when he had gone further in the bay, evidently the extension of
the lake, and this river empties itself into the Saguenay. This is
plainly pure nonsense. It would be equally nonsensical to speak of it
in connection with the Hudson Bay, as no river empties from it into the

Probably looking at the great River Winnipeg as it flows from Lake of
the Woods, or Bay of Islands as it was early called, he sees it flowing
north-easterly, and with the mistaken views so common among early
voyageurs, conjectures it to run toward the great Saguenay and to empty
into it, thence into the St. Lawrence.

6. This passage shows the point reached, which some interpret as Hudson
Bay or James Bay, could not have been so, for it speaks of a further
point toward the north, toward the sea.

7. Closely interpreted, it is plain that Radisson[1] had not only not
visited Hudson or James Bay, but that he had a wrong conception of it
altogether. He is simply giving a vague story of the Christinos.[2]


As known six years before the first Hudson's Bay Company Expedition
sailed for Hudson Bay.

(_Taken from Drage's "Account of a Voyage."_)]

On the return of Groseilliers and Radisson to Quebec, the former was
made a prisoner by order of the Governor for illicit trading. The two
partners were fined 4000_l._ for the purpose of erecting a fort at Three
Rivers, and 6000_l._ to go to the general funds of New France.


Filled with a sense of injustice at the amount of the fine placed
upon them, the unfortunate traders crossed over to France and sought
restitution. It was during their heroic efforts to secure a remission of
the fine that the two partners urged the importance, both in Quebec and
Paris, of an expedition being sent out to explore Hudson Bay, of which
they had heard from the Indians. Their efforts in Paris were fruitless,
and they came back to Quebec, burning for revenge upon the rapacious

Driven to desperation by what they considered a persecution, and no
doubt influenced by their being Protestant in faith, the adventurers
now turned their faces toward the English. In 1664 they went to Port
Royal, in Acadia, and thence to New England. Boston was then the centre
of English enterprise in America, and the French explorers brought their
case before the merchants of that town. They asserted that having been
on Lake Assiniboine, north of Lake Superior, they had there been assured
by the Indians that Hudson Bay could be reached.

After much effort they succeeded in engaging a New England ship, which
went as far as Lat. 61, to the entrance of Hudson Straits, but on
account of the timidity of the master of the ship, the voyage was given
up and the expedition was fruitless.

The two enterprising men were then promised by the ship-owners the
use of two vessels to go on their search in 1665, but they were again
discouraged by one of the vessels being sent on a trip to Sable Isle and
the other to the fisheries in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Groseilliers and
Radisson, bitterly disappointed, sought to maintain their rights against
the ship-owners in the Courts, and actually won their case, but they
were still unable to organize an expedition.

At this juncture the almost discouraged Frenchmen met the two Royal
Commissioners who were in America in behalf of Charles II. to settle
a number of disputed questions in New England and New York. By one of
these, Sir George Carteret, they were induced to visit England. Sir
George was no other than the Vice-Chamberlain to the King and Treasurer
of the Navy. He and our adventurers sailed for Europe, were captured
by a Dutch ship, and after being landed on the coast of Spain, reached

Through the influence of Carteret they obtained an audience with King
Charles on October 25th, 1666, and he promised that a ship should be
supplied to them as soon as possible with which to proceed on their
long-planned journey.

Even at this stage another influence came into view in the attempt of De
Witt, the Dutch Ambassador, to induce the Frenchmen to desert England
and go out under the auspices of Holland. Fortunately they refused these

The war with the Dutch delayed the expedition for one year, and in the
second year their vessel received orders too late to be fitted up for
the voyage. The assistance of the English ambassador to France, Mr.
Montague, was then invoked by Groseilliers and Radisson, now backed up
by a number of merchant friends to prepare for the voyage.

Through this influence, an audience was obtained from Prince Rupert, the
King's cousin, and his interest was awakened in the enterprise.

It was a remarkable thing that at this time the Royal House of England
showed great interest in trade. A writer of a century ago has said,
"Charles II., though addicted to pleasure, was capable of useful
exertions, and he loved commerce. His brother, the Duke of York, though
possessed of less ability, was endowed with greater perseverance, and
by a peculiar felicity placed his chief amusement in commercial schemes
whilst he possessed the whole influence of the State." "The Duke of York
spent half his time in the business of commerce in the city, presiding
frequently at meetings of courts of directors."

It will be seen that the circumstances were very favourable for the
French enthusiasts who were to lead the way to Hudson Bay, and the royal
personages who were anxious to engage in new and profitable schemes.

The first Stock Book (1667) is still in existence in the Hudson's
Bay House, in London, and gives an account of the stock taken in the
enterprise even before the Company was organized by charter. First on
the list is the name of His Royal Highness the Duke of York, and, on the
credit side of the account, "By a share presented to him in the stock
and adventure by the Governor and Company, 300_l._"

The second stockholder on the list is the notable Prince Rupert, who
took 300_l._ stock, and paid it up in the next two years, with the
exception of 100_l._ which he transferred to Sir George Carteret, who
evidently was the guiding mind in the beginning of the enterprise.
Christopher, Duke of Albemarle--the son of the great General Monk, who
had been so influential in the restoration of Charles II. to the throne
of England, was a stockholder for 500_l._

Then came as stockholders, and this before the Company had been formally
organized, William, Earl of Craven, well known as a personal friend of
Prince Rupert; Henry, Earl of Arlington, a member of the ruling cabal;
while Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury, the versatile minister of Charles,
is down for 700_l._ Sir George Carteret is charged with between six and
seven hundred pounds' worth of stock; Sir John Robinson, Sir Robert
Vyner, Sir Peter Colleton and others with large sums.

As we have seen, in the year 1667 the project took shape, a number
of those mentioned being responsible for the ship, its cargo, and the
expenses of the voyage. Among those who seem to have been most ready
with their money were the Duke of Albemarle, Earl of Craven, Sir
George Carteret, Sir John Robinson, and Sir Peter Colleton. An entry
of great interest is made in connection with the last-named knight.
He is credited with 96_l._ cash paid to the French explorers, who
were the originators of the enterprise. It is amusing, however, to
see Groseilliers spoken of as "Mr. Gooseberry"--a somewhat inaccurate
translation of his name.

Two ships were secured by the merchant adventurers, the _Eaglet_,
Captain Stannard, and the _Nonsuch Ketch_, Captain Zachariah Gillam. The
former vessel has almost been forgotten, because after venturing on the
journey, passing the Orkneys, crossing the Atlantic, and approaching
Hudson Straits, the master thought the enterprise an impossible one, and
returned to London.

Special interest attaches to the _Nonsuch Ketch_. It was the successful
vessel, but another notable thing connected with it was that its New
England captain, Zachariah Gillam, had led the expedition of 1664,
though now the vessel under his command was one of the King's ships.[3]

It was in June, 1668, that the vessels sailed from Gravesend, on the
Thames, and proceeded on their journey, Groseilliers being aboard
the _Nonsuch_, and Radisson in the _Eaglet_. The _Nonsuch_ found the
Bay, discovered little more than half a century before by Hudson, and
explored by Button, Fox, and James, the last-named less than forty years
before. Captain Gillam is said to have sailed as far north as 75° N.
in Baffin Bay, though this is disputed, and then to have returned into
Hudson Bay, where, turning southward, he reached the bottom of the Bay
on September 29th. Entering a stream, the Nemisco, on the south-east
corner of the Bay--a point probably not less than 150 miles from the
nearest French possessions in Canada--the party took possession of
it, calling it, after the name of their distinguished patron, Prince
Rupert's River.

Here, at their camping-place, they met the natives of the district,
probably a branch of the Swampy Crees. With the Indians they held a
parley, and came to an agreement by which they were allowed to occupy
a certain portion of territory. With busy hands they went to work and
built a stone fort, in Lat. 51° 20' N., Long. 78° W., which, in honour
of their gracious sovereign, they called "Charles Fort."

Not far away from their fort lay Charlton Island, with its shores of
white sand, and covered over with a growth of juniper and spruce. To
this they crossed on the ice upon the freezing of the river on December
9th. Having made due preparations for the winter, they passed the long
and dreary time, finding the cold excessive. As they looked out they saw
"Nature looking like a carcase frozen to death."

In April, 1669, however, the cold was almost over, and they were
surprised to see the bursting forth of the spring. Satisfied with their
journey, they left the Bay in this year and sailed southward to Boston,
from which port they crossed the ocean to London, and gave an account of
their successful voyage.

The fame of the pioneer explorer is ever an enviable one. There can be
but one Columbus, and so for all time this voyage of Zachariah Gillam,
because it was the expedition which resulted in the founding of the
first fort, and in the beginning of the great movement which has lasted
for more than two centuries, will be memorable. It was not an event
which made much stir in London at the time, but it was none the less the
first of a long series of most important and far-reaching activities.


[1] See map opposite.

[2] Mr. Miller Christie, of London, and others are of opinion that
Radisson visited Hudson Bay on this fourth voyage.

[3] A copy of the instructions given the captains may be found in State
Papers, London, Charles II., 251, No. 180.



     Royal charters--Good Queen Bess--"So miserable a
     wilderness"--Courtly stockholders--Correct spelling--"The nonsense
     of the Charters"--Mighty rivers--Lords of the territory--To execute
     justice--War on infidels--Power to seize--"Skin for skin"--Friends
     of the red man.

The success of the first voyage made by the London merchants to Hudson
Bay was so marked that the way was open for establishing the Company and
carrying on a promising trade. The merchants who had given their names
or credit for Gillam's expedition lost no time in applying, with their
patron, Prince Rupert, at their head, to King Charles II. for a Charter
to enable them more safely to carry out their plans. Their application
was, after some delay, granted on May 2nd, 1670.

The modern method of obtaining privileges such as they sought would have
been by an application to Parliament; but the seventeenth century was
the era of Royal Charters. Much was said in England eighty years after
the giving of this Charter, and again in Canada forty years ago, against
the illegality and unwisdom of such Royal Charters as the one granted to
the Hudson's Bay Company. These criticisms, while perhaps just, scarcely
cover the ground in question.

As to the abstract point of the granting of Royal Charters, there
would probably be no two opinions to-day, but it was conceded to be a
royal prerogative two centuries ago, although the famous scene cannot
be forgotten where Queen Elizabeth, in allowing many monopolies which
she had granted to be repealed, said in answer to the Address from the
House of Commons: "Never since I was a queen did I put my pen to any
grant but upon pretext and semblance made to me that it was both good
and beneficial to the subject in general, though private profit to some
of my ancient servants who had deserved well.... Never thought was
cherished in my heart that tended not to my people's good."

The words, however, of the Imperial Attorney-General and
Solicitor-General, Messrs. Bethel and Keating, of Lincoln's Inn, when
appealed to by the British Parliament, are very wise: "The questions of
the validity and construction of the Hudson's Bay Company Charter cannot
be considered apart from the enjoyment that has been had under it during
nearly two centuries, and the recognition made of the rights of the
Company in various acts, both of the Government and Legislature."

The bestowal of such great privileges as those given to the Hudson's Bay
Company are easily accounted for in the prevailing idea as to the royal
prerogative, the strong influence at Court in favour of the applicants
for the Charter, and, it may be said, in such opinions as that expressed
forty years after by Oldmixon: "There being no towns or plantations
in this country (Rupert's Land), but two or three forts to defend the
factories, we thought we were at liberty to place it in our book where
we pleased, and were loth to let our history open with the description
of so wretched a Colony. For as rich as the trade to those parts has
been or may be, the way of living is such that we cannot reckon any man
happy whose lot is cast upon this Bay."

The Charter certainly opens with a breath of unrestrained heartiness
on the part of the good-natured King Charles. First on the list of
recipients is "our dear entirely beloved Prince Rupert, Count Palatine
of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria and Cumberland, etc," who seems to have
taken the King captive, as if by one of his old charges when he gained
the name of the fiery Rupert of Edgehill. Though the stock book of the
Company has the entry made in favour of Christopher, Duke of Albemarle,
yet the Charter contains that of the famous General Monk, who, as "Old
George," stood his ground in London during the year of the plague
and kept order in the terror-stricken city. The explanation of the
occurrence of the two names is found in the fact that the father died in
the year of the granting of the Charter. The reason for the appearance
of the name of Sir Philip Carteret in the Charter is not so evident, for
not only was Sir George Carteret one of the promoters of the Company,
but his name occurs as one of the Court of Adventurers in the year after
the granting of the Charter. John Portman, citizen and goldsmith of
London, is the only member named who is neither nobleman, knight, nor
esquire, but he would seem to have been very useful to the Company as a
man of means.

The Charter states that the eighteen incorporators named deserve the
privileges granted because they "have at their own great cost and
charges undertaken an expedition for Hudson Bay, in the north-west parts
of America, for a discovery of a new passage into the South Sea, and for
the finding of some trade for furs, minerals, and other considerable
commodities, and by such their undertakings, have already made such
discoveries as to encourage them to proceed farther in pursuance of
their said design, by means whereof there may probably arise great
advantage to Us and our kingdoms."

The full name of the Company given in the Charter is, "The Governor
and Company of Adventurers of England, trading into Hudson Bay." They
have usually been called "The Hudson's Bay Company," the form of the
possessive case being kept in the name, though it is usual to speak
of the bay itself as Hudson Bay. The adventurers are given the powers
of possession, succession, and the legal rights and responsibilities
usually bestowed in incorporation, with the power of adopting a seal
or changing the same at their "will and pleasure"; and this is granted
in the elaborate phraseology found in documents of that period.
Full provision is made in the Charter for the election of Governor,
Deputy-Governor, and the Managing Committee of seven. It is interesting
to notice during the long career of the Company how the simple machinery
thus provided was adapted, without amendment, in carrying out the
immense projects of the Company during the two and a quarter centuries
of its existence.

The grant was certainly sufficiently comprehensive. The opponents of
the Company in later days mentioned that King Charles gave away in
his sweeping phrase a vast territory of which he had no conception,
and that it was impossible to transfer property which could not be
described. In the case of the English Colonies along the Atlantic
coast it was held by the holders of the charters that the frontage
of the seaboard carried with it the strip of land all the way across
the continent. It will be remembered how, in the settlement with the
Commissioners after the American Revolution, Lord Shelburne spoke of
this theory as the "nonsense of the charters." The Hudson's Bay Company
was always very successful in the maintenance of its claim to the full
privileges of the Charter, and until the time of the surrender of its
territory to Canada kept firm possession of the country from the shore
of Hudson Bay even to the Rocky Mountains.

The generous monarch gave the Company "the whole trade of all those
seas, streights, and bays, rivers, lakes, creeks, and sounds, in
whatsoever latitude they shall be, that lie within the entrance of the
streights commonly called Hudson's Streights, together with all the
lands, countries, and territories upon the coasts and confines of the
seas, streights, bays, lakes, rivers, creeks, and sounds aforesaid,
which are not now actually possessed by any of our subjects, or by the
subjects of any other Christian prince or State."

The wonderful water system by which this great claim was extended over
so vast a portion of the American continent has been often described.
The streams running from near the shore of Lake Superior find their way
by Rainy Lake, Lake of the Woods, and Lake Winnipeg, then by the River
Nelson, to Hudson Bay. Into Lake Winnipeg, which acts as a collecting
basin for the interior, also run the Red River and mighty Saskatchewan,
the latter in some ways rivalling the Mississippi, and springing from
the very heart of the Rocky Mountains. The territory thus drained was
all legitimately covered by the language of the Charter. The tenacious
hold of its vast domain enabled the Company to secure in later years
leases of territory lying beyond it on the Arctic and Pacific slopes.
In the grant thus given perhaps the most troublesome feature was the
exclusion, even from the territory granted, of the portion "possessed
by the subjects of any other Christian prince or State." We shall see
afterwards that within less than twenty years claims were made by the
French of a portion of the country on the south side of the Bay; and
also a most strenuous contention was put forth at a later date for the
French explorers, as having first entered in the territory lying in
the basin of the Red and Saskatchewan Rivers. This claim, indeed, was
advanced less than fifty years ago by Canada as the possessor of the
rights once maintained by French Canada.

The grant in general included the trade of the country, but is made
more specific in one of the articles of the Charter, in that "the
fisheries within Hudson's Streights, the minerals, including gold,
silver, gems, and precious stones, shall be possessed by the Company."
It is interesting to note that the country thus vaguely described is
recognized as one of the English "Plantations or Colonies in America,"
and is called, in compliment to the popular Prince, "Rupert's Land."

Perhaps the most astounding gift bestowed by the Charter is not that of
the trade, or what might be called, in the phrase of the old Roman law,
the "usufruct," but the transfer of the vast territory, possibly more
than one quarter or a third of the whole of North America, to hold it
"in free and common socage," i.e., as absolute proprietors. The value
of this concession was tested in the early years of this century, when
the Hudson's Bay Company sold to the Earl of Selkirk a portion of the
territory greater in area than the whole of England and Scotland; and
in this the Company was supported by the highest legal authorities in

To the minds of some, even more remarkable than the transfer of the
ownership of so large a territory was the conferring upon the Company by
the Crown of the power to make laws, not only for their own forts and
plantations, with all their officers and servants, but having force over
all persons upon the lands ceded to them so absolutely.

The authority to administer justice is also given in no uncertain
terms. The officers of the Company "may have power to judge all persons
belonging to the said Governor and Company, or that shall live under
them, in all causes, whether civil or criminal, according to the laws of
this kingdom, and execute justice accordingly." To this was also added
the power of sending those charged with offences to England to be tried
and punished. The authorities, in the course of time, availed themselves
of this right. We shall see in the history of the Red River Settlement,
in the very heart of Rupert's Land, the spectacle of a community of
several thousands of people within a circle having a radius of fifty
miles ruled by Hudson's Bay Company authority, with the customs duties
collected, certain municipal institutions established, and justice
administered, and the people for two generations not possessed of
representative institutions.

One of the powers most jealously guarded by all governments is the
control of military expeditions. There is a settled unwillingness to
allow private individuals to direct or influence them. No qualms of this
sort seem to have been in the royal mind over this matter in connection
with the Hudson's Bay Company. The Company is fully empowered in the
Charter to send ships of war, men, or ammunition into their plantations,
allowed to choose and appoint commanders and officers, and even to issue
them their commissions.

There is a ludicrous ring about the words empowering the Company to
make peace or war with any prince or people whatsoever that are not
Christians, and to be permitted for this end to build all necessary
castles and fortifications. It seems to have the spirit of the old
formula leaving Jews, Turks, and Saracens to the uncovenanted mercies
rather than to breathe the nobler principles of a Christian land.
Surely, seldom before or since has a Company gone forth thus armed
_cap-à-pie_ to win glory and profit for their country.

An important proviso of the Charter, which was largely a logical
sequence of the power given to possess the wide territory, was the
grant of the "whole, entire, and only Liberty of Trade and Traffick."
The claim of a complete monopoly of trade was held most strenuously by
the Company from the very beginning. The early history of the Company
abounds with accounts of the steps taken to prevent the incoming of
interlopers. These were private traders, some from the English colonies
in America, and others from England, who fitted out expeditions to trade
upon the Bay. Full power was given by the Charter "to seize upon the
persons of all such English or any other subjects, which sail into
Hudson's Bay or inhabit in any of the countries, islands, or territories
granted to the said Governor and Company, without their leave and
license in that behalf first had and obtained."

The abstract question of whether such monopoly may rightly be granted
by a free government is a difficult one, and is variously decided by
different authorities. The "free trader" was certainly a person greatly
disliked in the early days of the Company. Frequent allusions are made
in the minutes of the Company, during the first fifty years of its
existence, to the arrest and punishment of servants or employés of the
Company who secreted valuable furs on their homeward voyage for the
purpose of disposing of them. As late as half a century ago, in the more
settled parts of Rupert's Land, on the advice of a judge who had a high
sense of its prerogative, an attempt was made by the Company to prevent
private trading in furs. Very serious local disturbances took place in
the Red River Settlement at that time, but wiser counsels prevailed, and
in the later years of the Company's régime the imperative character of
the right was largely relaxed.

The Charter fittingly closes with a commendation of the Company by the
King to the good offices of all admirals, justices, mayors, sheriffs,
and other officers of the Crown, enjoining them to give aid, favour,
help, and assistance.

With such extensive powers, the wonder is that the Company bears, on the
whole, after its long career over such an extended area of operations,
and among savage and border people unaccustomed to the restraints of
law, so honourable a record. Being governed by men of high standing,
many of them closely associated with the operations of government
at home, it is very easy to trace how, as "freedom broadened slowly
down" from Charles II. to the present time, the method of dealing with
subjects and subordinates became more and more gentle and considerate.
As one reads the minutes of the Company in the Hudson's Bay House for
the first quarter of a century of its history, the tyrannical spirit,
even so far at the removal of troublesome or unpopular members of the
Committee and the treatment of rivals, is very evident.

This intolerance was of the spirit of the age. In the Restoration,
the Revolution, and the trials of prisoners after rebellion, men were
accustomed to the exercise of the severest penalties for the crimes
committed. As the spirit of more gentle administration of law found its
way into more peaceful times the Company modified its policy.


The Hudson's Bay Company was, it is true, a keen trader, as the motto,
"Pro Pelle Cutem"--"skin for skin"--clearly implies. With this no fault
can be found, the more that its methods were nearly all honourable
British methods. It never forgot the flag that floated over it. One of
the greatest testimonies in its favour was that, when two centuries
after its organization it gave up, except as a purely trading company,
its power to Canada, yet its authority over the wide-spread Indian
population of Rupert's Land was so great, that it was asked by the
Canadian Government to retain one-twentieth of the land of that wide
domain as a guarantee of its assistance in transferring power from the
old to the new régime.

The Indian had in every part of Rupert's Land absolute trust in the
good faith of the Company. To have been the possessor of such absolute
powers as those given by the Charter; to have on the whole "borne their
faculties so meek"; to have been able to carry on government and trade
so long and so successfully, is not so much a commendation of the royal
donor of the Charter as it is of the clemency and general fairness of
the administration, which entitled it not only officially but also
really, to the title "The Honourable Hudson's Bay Company."



     Rich Mr. Portman--Good ship _Prince Rupert_--The early
     adventurers--"Book of Common Prayer"--Five forts--Voting a
     funeral--Worth of a beaver--To Hudson Bay and back--Selling
     the pelts--Bottles of sack--Fat dividends--"Victorious as
     Cæsar"--"Golden Fruit."

The generation that lived between the founding of the Company and the
end of the century saw a great development in the trade of the infant
enterprise. Meeting sometimes at the place of business of one of the
Committee, and afterwards at hired premises, the energetic members of
the sub-committee paid close attention to their work. Sir John Robinson,
Sir John Kirke, and Mr. Portman acted as one such executive, and the
monthly, and at times weekly meetings of the Court of Adventurers were
held when they were needed. It brings the past very close to us as we
read the minutes, still preserved in the Hudson's Bay House, Leadenhall
Street, London, of a meeting at Whitehall in 1671, with His Highness
Prince Rupert in the chair, and find the sub-committee appointed to
carry on the business. Captain Gillam for a number of years remained
in the service of the Company as a trusted captain, and commanded the
ship _Prince Rupert_. Another vessel, the _Windingoo_, or _Wyvenhoe
Pinck_, was soon added, also in time the _Moosongee Dogger_, then the
_Shaftsbury_, the _Albemarle_, and the _Craven Bark_--the last three
named from prominent members of the Company. Not more than three of
these ships were in use at the same time.

The fitting out of these ships was a work needing much attention from
the sub-committee. Year after year its members went down to Gravesend
about the end of May, saw the goods which had been purchased placed
aboard the ships, paid the captain and men their wages, delivered the
agents to be sent out their commissions, and exercised plenary power in
regard to emergencies which arose. The articles selected indicate very
clearly the kind of trade in which the Company engaged. The inventory
of goods in 1672 shows how small an affair the trade at first was.
"Two hundred fowling-pieces, and powder and shot; 200 brass kettles,
size from five to sixteen gallons; twelve gross of knives; 900 or 1000
hatchets," is recorded as being the estimate of cargo for that year.

A few years, however, made a great change. Tobacco, glass beads, 6,000
flints, boxes of red lead, looking-glasses, netting for fishing, pewter
dishes, and pewter plates were added to the consignments. That some
attention was had by the Company to the morals of their employés is seen
in that one ship's cargo was provided with "a book of common prayer, and
a book of homilies."

About June 1st, the ship, or ships, sailed from the Thames, rounded
the North of Scotland, and were not heard of till October, when they
returned with their valuable cargoes. Year after year, as we read the
records of the Company's history, we find the vessels sailing out and
returning with the greatest regularity, and few losses took place from
wind or weather during that time.

The agents of the Company on the Bay seem to have been well selected
and generally reliable men. Certain French writers and also the English
opponents of the Company have represented them as timid men, afraid
to leave the coast and penetrate to the interior, and their conduct
has been contrasted with that of the daring, if not reckless, French
explorers. It is true that for about one hundred years the Hudson's
Bay Company men did not leave the shores of Hudson Bay, but what was
the need so long as the Indians came to the coast with their furs and
afforded them profitable trade! By the orders of the Company they opened
up trade at different places on the shores of the Bay, and we learn from
Oldmixon that fifteen years after the founding of the Company there were
forts established at (1) Albany River; (2) Hayes Island; (3) Rupert's
River; (4) Port Nelson; (5) New Severn. According to another authority,
Moose River takes the place of Hayes Island in this list. These forts
and factories, at first primitive and small, were gradually increased in
size and comfort until they became, in some cases, quite extensive.

The plan of management was to have a governor appointed over each fort
for a term of years, and a certain number of men placed under his
direction. In the first year of the Hudson's Bay Company's operations as
a corporate body, Governor Charles Bailey was sent out to take charge
of Charles Fort at Rupert's River. With him was associated the French
adventurer, Radisson, and his nephew, Jean Baptiste Groseilliers. Bailey
seems to have been an efficient officer, though fault was found with
him by the Company. Ten years after the founding of the Company he died
in London, and was voted a funeral by the Company, which took place
by twilight to St. Paul's, Covent Garden. The widow of the Governor
maintained a contention against the Company for an allowance of 400_l._,
which was given after three years' dispute. Another Governor was William
Lydall, as also John Bridgar, Governor of the West Main; and again Henry
Sargeant, Thomas Phipps, Governor of Fort Nelson, and John Knight,
Governor of Albany, took an active part in the disputes of the Company
with the French. Thus, with a considerable amount of friction, the
affairs of the Company were conducted on the new and inhospitable coast
of Hudson Bay.

To the forts from the vast interior of North America the various tribes
of Indians, especially the Crees, Chipewyans, and Eskimos, brought
their furs for barter. No doubt the prices were very much in favour of
the traders at first, but during the first generation of traders the
competition of French traders from the south for their share of the
Indian trade tended to correct injustice and give the Indians better
prices for their furs.

The following is the standard fixed at this time:--

  Guns                      twelve winter beaver skins for largest,
                              ten for medium,
                              eight for smallest.
  Powder                    a beaver for 1/2 lb.
  Shot                      a beaver for 4 lbs.
  Hatchets                  a beaver for a great and little hatchet.
  Knives                    a beaver for eight great knives and eight
                              jack knives.
  Beads                     a beaver for 1/2 lb. of beads.
  Laced coats               six beavers for one.
  Plain coats               five beavers for one plain red coat.
  Coats for women,
    laced, 2 yds.           six beavers.
  Coats for women, plain    five beavers.
  Tobacco                   a beaver for 1 lb.
  Powder-horn               a beaver for a large powder-horn and two
                              small ones.
  Kettles                   a beaver for 1 lb. of kettle.
  Looking-glass and comb    two skins.

The trade conducted at the posts or factories along the shore was
carried on by the local traders so soon as the rivers from the
interior--the Nelson and the Churchill--were open, so that by the time
the ship from London arrived, say in the end of July or beginning of
August, the Indians were beginning to reach the coast. The month of
August was a busy month, and by the close of it, or early in September,
the ship was loaded and sent back on her journey.

By the end of October the ships arrived from Hudson Bay, and the anxiety
of the Company to learn how the season's trade had succeeded was
naturally very great. As soon as the vessels had arrived in the Downs
or at Portsmouth, word was sent post haste to London, and the results
were laid before a Committee of the Company. Much reference is made in
the minutes to the difficulty of preventing the men employed in the
ships from entering into illicit trade in furs. Strict orders were given
to inspect the lockers for furs to prevent private trade. In due time
the furs were unladen from the ships and put into the custody of the
Company's secretary in the London warehouse.

The matter of selling the furs was one of very great importance. At
times the Company found prices low, and deferred their sales until the
outlook was more favourable. The method followed was to have an auction,
and every precaution was taken to have the sales fair and aboveboard.
Evidences are not wanting that at times it was difficult for the Court
of Adventurers to secure this very desirable result.

The matter was not, however, one of dry routine, for the London
merchants seem to have encouraged business with generous hospitality.
On November 9th, 1681, the sale took place, and the following entry is
found in the minutes: "A Committee was appointed to provide three dozen
bottles of sack and three dozen bottles of claret, to be given to buyers
at ye sale. Dinner was also bespoken at 'Ye Stillyard,' of a good dish
of fish, a loyne of veal, two pullets, and four ducks."

As the years went on, the same variations in furs that we see in our
day took place. New markets were then looked for and arrangements made
for sending agents to Holland and finding the connections in Russia,
that sales might be effected. In order to carry out the trade it was
necessary to take large quantities of hemp from Holland in return for
the furs sent. The employment of this article for cordage in the Navy
led to the influence of important members of the Company being used with
the Earl of Marlborough to secure a sale for this commodity. Pending the
sales it was necessary for large sums of money to be advanced to carry
on the business of the Company. This was generally accomplished by the
liberality of members of the Company itself supplying the needed amounts.

The Company was, however, from time to time gratified by the declaration
of handsome dividends. So far as recorded, the first dividend was
declared in 1684, and judged by modern standards it was one for which a
company might well wait for a number of years. It was for 50 per cent.
upon stock. Accordingly, the Earl of Craven received 150_l._, Sir James
Hayes 150_l._, and so on in proportion. In 1688 another dividend of a
like amount of 50 per cent. on the stock resulted, and among others,
Hon. Robert Boyle, Earl Churchill, and Sir Christopher Wren had their
hearts gladdened. In 1689 profits to the extent of 25 per cent. on the
stock were received, and one of the successful captains was, in the
exuberance of feeling of the stockholders, presented with a silver
flagon in recognition of his services. In 1690, however, took place by
far the most remarkable event of a financial kind in the early history
of the Company. The returns of that year from the Bay were so large that
the Company decided to treble its stock. The reasons given for this

(1) The Company has in its warehouse about the value of its original
stock (10,500_l._). (2) The factories at Fort Nelson and New Severn
are increasing in trade, and this year the returns are expected to be
20,000_l._ in beaver. (3) The factories are of much value. (4) Damages
are expected from the French for a claim of 100,000_l._

The Company then proceeded to declare a dividend of 25 per cent., which
was equivalent to 75 per cent. on their original stock.

It was a pleasing incident to the sovereign of the realm that in all
these profits he was not forgotten. In the original Charter the only
recompense coming to the Crown, for the royal gift, was to be the
payment, when the territory was entered upon, of "two elks and two black
beavers." This may have been a device for keeping up the royal claim,
but at any rate 300_l_. in the original stock-book stood to the credit
of the sovereign. It had been the custom to send a deputation to present
in person the dividends to His Majesty, and the pounds sterling were
always changed to guineas.

On this occasion of the great dividend, King William III. had but lately
returned from his victories in Ireland. The deputation, headed by Sir
Edward Dering, was introduced to the King by the Earl of Portland,
and the following address, hitherto, so far as known to the writer,
unpublished, was presented along with the noble gift:--

"Your Majestie's most Loyal and Dutiful subjects beg leave to
congratulate your Majestie's Happy Return here with Honor and Safety.
And we do daily pray to Heaven (that Hath God wonderfully preserved your
Royall Person) that in all your undertakings Your Majestie may be as
victorious as Cæsar, as beloved as Titus, and (after all) have the long
and glorious Reigne and Peacefull end of Augustus.

"On this happy occasion we desire also most humbly to present to your
Majestie a dividend of _Two Hundred and twenty-five guineas_ upon
three hundred pounds stock in the Hudson's Bay Company, now Rightfully
delivered to your Majestie. And although we have been the greatest
sufferers of any Company from those common enemies of all mankind the
French, yet when your Majestie's just Arms shall have given Repose to
all Christendom, we also shall enjoy our share of these great Benefits
and do not doubt but to appeare often with this golden fruit in our
hands, under the happy influence of Your Majestie's most gracious
protection over us and all our Concerns."

It is true that towards the end of the seventeenth century, as we shall
afterwards see, the trade of the Company was seriously injured by the
attacks of the French on the Bay, but a quarter of a century in which
the possibility of obtaining such profits had been shown was sufficient
to establish the Company in the public favour and to attract to it much
capital. Its careful management from the first led to its gaining a
reputation for business ability which it has never lost during two and a
quarter centuries of its history.



     Men of high station--Prince Rupert primus--Prince James,
     "nemine contradicente"--The hero of the hour--Churchill River
     named--Plate of solid gold--Off to the Tower.

The success of the Hudson's Bay Company, and the influence exerted by
it during so long a period, has often been attributed to the union of
persons of station and high political influence with the practical and
far-seeing business men of London, who made up the Company. A perusal of
the minutes of the first thirty years of the Company's history impresses
on the mind of the reader that this is true, and that good feeling and
patriotism were joined with business tact and enterprise in all the
ventures. From the prosperous days of Queen Elizabeth and her sea-going
captains and explorers, certainly from the time of Charles II., it was
no uncommon thing to see the titled and commercial classes co-operating,
in striking contrast to the governing classes of France, in making
commerce and trade a prominent feature of the national life.

The first Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, Rupert, Prince of
Bavaria, grandson by the mother's side of James I. of England, is a
sufficiently well-known character in general history to require no
extended notice. His exploits on the Royalist side in the Civil War,
his fierce charges and his swiftness in executing difficult military
movements, led to his name being taken as the very embodiment of energy
and prowess. In this sense the expression, "the fiery Rupert of debate"
was applied to a prominent parliamentarian of the past generation.

After the restoration of Charles II., Prince Rupert took up his abode
in England, finding it more like home to him than any Continental
country. Enjoying the plaudits of the Cavaliers, for whom he had so
strenuously fought, he was appointed Constable of Windsor, a no very
onerous position. From the minutes of the Hudson's Bay Company we
find that he had lodgings at Whitehall, and spent much of his time in
business and among scientific circles--indeed, the famous toys called
"glass tears," or "Rupert's drops," were brought over by him to England
from the Continent to interest his scientific friends.

We have seen already the steps taken by the returned Commissioners from
the American Colonies to introduce Radisson and Groseilliers to Prince
Rupert, and through him to the royal notice.

The success of the expedition of Gillam and the building of Charles Fort
on Hudson Bay led to the Prince consenting to head the new Company.
He had just passed the half century of his age when he was appointed
Governor of the vast _terra incognita_ lying to the west of the Bay to
which, in his honour, was given the name Rupert's Land.

The Company lost no time in undertaking a new expedition. Prince
Rupert's intimate friend, the Earl of Craven, was one of the
incorporators, and it was with this nobleman that Prince Rupert's
widowed mother, the Princess Elizabeth, had found a home in the days of

The close connection of the Hudson's Bay Company with the Court gave
it, we see very plainly, certain important advantages. Not only do
the generous terms of the Charter indicate this, but the detailing of
certain ships of the Royal Navy to protect the merchantmen going out to
Hudson Bay shows the strong bond of sympathy. Certainly nothing less
than the thorough interest of the Court could have led to the firm stand
taken by the English Government in the controversies with France as to
the possession of Hudson Bay.

Several excellent paintings of the Prince are in existence, one by
Vandyke in Warwick Castle, showing his handsome form, and another in
Knebworth, Hertford. The Prince was unfortunately not free from the
immorality that was so flagrant a feature of the Court of Charles II. At
that time this was but little taken into account, and the fame of his
military exploits, together with the fixing of his name upon so wide an
extent of the earth's surface, have served to give posterity an interest
in him.

For twelve successive years Prince Rupert was chosen Governor at the
General Court of Adventurers, and used his great influence for the
Company. He died on November 29th, 1682, at the comparatively early age
of sixty-three.

The death of the first Governor was a somewhat severe trial for the
infant Company. The Prince's name had been one to conjure by, and though
he had been ably supported by the Deputy-Governor, Sir James Hayes,
yet there was some fear of loss of prestige to the Adventurers on his
unexpected death.

The members of the Company were anxious to keep up, if possible, the
royal connection, but they were by no means clear as to the choice of
the only available personage who came before their view. James, Duke of
York, was a man with a liking for business, but he was not a popular
favourite. The famous _jeu d'esprit_ of Charles II. will be remembered.
When James informed Charles II. that there was a conspiracy on foot to
drive him from the throne, "No, James," said Charles, "they will never
kill me to make you king."

The minutes of the Company show that much deliberation took place
as to the choice of a successor to Prince Rupert, but at length, in
January, 1683, at a General Court, the choice was made, and the record
reads:--"His Royal Highness the Duke of York was chosen Governor of
the Company, 'Nemine contradicente.' "The new Governor soon had reasons
to congratulate himself on his election, for on April 21st, 1684, Sir
James Hayes and Sir Edward Dering reported to the Adventurers their
having paid 150 guineas to His Royal Highness as a dividend on the stock
held by him. Prince James was chosen Governor for three successive
years, until the year when, on the death of Charles, he became King.
While James was not much in favour as a man, yet he possessed decided
administrative ability, and whether this was the cause or not, certainly
the period of his governorship was a successful time in the history of
the Company.

Failing a prince or duke, the lot could not have fallen upon a more
capable man than was chosen as the Duke of York's successor for the
governorship. On April 2nd, 1685, at a General Court of the Adventurers,
the choice fell upon one of the most remarkable men of his time, the
Right Hon. John Lord Churchill, afterwards Duke of Marlborough. Lord
Churchill had not yet gained any of his great victories. He was,
however, at this time a favourite of the Duke of York, and no doubt,
on the recommendation of James, had been brought before the Court of
Adventurers. He was one of the most adroit men of his time, he was on
the highway to the most distinguished honours, and the Adventurers
gladly elected him third governor.

On April 2nd, 1685, the new governor threw himself heartily into the
work of the Company. No doubt one so closely connected with the public
service could be of more practical value than even a royal duke. The
great dividend of which we have already spoken followed the years of his

The success attained but stimulated the Company to increase their trade
and widen the field of their operations. The river running into the
west side of the Bay, far to the north, was named in honour of the new
governor, Churchill River, and in 1686 expansion of trade was sought by
the decision to settle at the mouth of this river and use it as a new
trading centre for the north and west. Without any desire to annoy the
French, who claimed the south end of the Bay, it was determined to send
a ship to the southern part of Hudson Bay, and a few months later the
_Yonge_ frigate was dispatched. The fear of attacks from the French,
who were known to be in a very restless condition, led to the request
being made to the Government to station a military force at each fort
in Hudson Bay. It was also the desire of the Company that steps should
be taken to protect them in their Charter rights and to prevent illegal
expeditions from going to trade in the Bay. All this shows the energy
and hopefulness of the Company under the leadership of Lord Churchill.

The part taken by Lord Churchill in the opposition to James, and his
active agency in inducing William of Orange to come to England, are
well known. He was a worshipper of the rising sun. On the arrival of
William III., Lord Churchill, who was soon raised to the peerage as
Earl of Marlborough, was as popular, for the time, with the new king
as he had been with his predecessor. His zeal is seen in his sending
out in June, 1689, as governor, the instructions that William and Mary
should be proclaimed in the posts upon the shores of Hudson Bay. He was
able shortly after to report to his Company that 100 marines had been
detailed to protect the Company's ships on their way to Hudson Bay. The
enthusiasm of the Company at this mark of consideration obtained through
the influence of Lord Churchill, was very great, and we learn from the
minutes that profuse thanks were given to the governor, and a piece of
plate of solid gold, of the value of 100 guineas, was presented to him
for his distinguished services. Legislation was also introduced at this
time into Parliament for the purpose of giving further privileges to the

But the rising tide of fortune was suddenly checked. Disaster
overtook the Governor. William had found some reason for distrusting
this versatile man of affairs, and he suspected him of being in
correspondence with the dethroned James. No doubt the suspicion was well
founded, but the King had thought it better, on account of Marlborough's
great talents, to overlook his unfaithfulness. Suddenly, in May, 1692,
England was startled by hearing that the Earl of Marlborough had been
thrown into the Tower on an accusation of high treason. For seven
years this determined soldier had led the Company to success, but
his imprisonment rendered a change in the governorship a necessity.
Marlborough was only imprisoned for a short time, but he was not
re-elected to the position he had so well filled. At the General Court
of Adventurers in November of the year of Marlborough's fall, Sir
Stephen Evance was chosen Governor. This gentleman was re-elected a
number of times, and was Governor of the Company at the close of the

Two decades, and more, of the formative life of the Company were thus
lived under the ægis of the Court, the personal management of two
courtly personages, and under the guidance of the leading general of
his time. As we shall see afterwards, during a part of this period the
affairs of the Company were carried on in the face of the constant
opposition of the French. Undoubtedly heavy losses resulted from the
French rivalry, but the pluck and wisdom of the Company were equally
manifested in the confidence with which they risked their means, and
the strong steps taken to retain their hold on Hudson Bay. This was the
golden age of the Hudson's Bay Company. When money was needed it was
often cheerfully advanced by some of the partners; it was an honour to
have stock in a Company which was within the shadow of the throne; its
distinguished Governors were re-elected so long as they were eligible
to serve; again and again the Committee, provided with a rich purse of
golden guineas, waited on His Majesty the King to give return for the
favour of the Royal Charter; and never afterward can the historian point
in the annals of the Company to so distinguished a period.



     Peter Radisson and "Mr. Gooseberry" again--Radisson
     _v._ Gillam--Back to France--A wife's influence--Paltry
     vessels--Radisson's diplomacy--Deserts to England--Shameful
     duplicity--"A hogshead of claret"--Adventurers
     appreciative--Twenty-five years of Radisson's life hitherto
     unknown--"In a low and mean condition"--The Company in
     Chancery--Lucky Radisson--A Company pensioner.

A mysterious interest gathers around two of the most industrious and,
it must be added, most diplomatic and adroit of the agents of the
Company, the two Frenchmen, Pierre Esprit Radisson and Medard Chouart,
afterwards the Sieur de Groseilliers. Acquainted with the far northern
fur trade, their assistance was invaluable. We have seen in a former
chapter that finding little encouragement either in New France or their
mother country, they had transferred their services to England, and were
largely instrumental in founding the Hudson's Bay Company.

In the first voyage of the adventurers to Hudson's Bay, it came about
that while Groseilliers was lucky in being on the _Nonsuch_ ketch, which
made its way into the Bay, on the other hand, Radisson, to his great
chagrin, was on board the companion ship, the _Eaglet_, which, after
attempting an entrance and failing, returned to England.

It has been stated that during the time of his enforced idleness in
London, while the party was building Charles Fort on Prince Rupert's
River, Radisson was busy interesting the leading men of the city in the
importance of the adventure. Immediately on the return of the company
of the _Nonsuch_, steps were taken for the organization of the Hudson's
Bay Company. This, as we have seen, took place in May, 1670, and in the
same year Radisson and Groseilliers went out with Governor Bailey, and
assisted in establishing trade on the shores of the Bay.

On their return, in the autumn of 1671, to London, the two adventurers
spent the winter there, and, as the minutes of the Company show,
received certain money payments for their maintenance. In October, 1673,
the sloop _Prince Rupert_ had arrived at Portsmouth from Hudson Bay, and
there are evidences of friction between Radisson and Captain Gillam.
Radisson is called on to be present at a meeting of the General Court
of the Company held in October, and afterwards Gillam is authorized to
advance the amounts necessary for his living expenses.

In the Company minutes of June 25th, 1674, is found the following
entry:--"That there be allowed to Mr. Radisson 100 pounds per annum from
the time of his last arrival in London, in consideration of services
done by him, out of which to be deducted what hath been already paid
him since that time, and if it shall please God to bless this Company
with good success hereafter that they shall come to be in a prosperous
condition they will then re-assume the consideration thereof."

During the next month a further sum was paid Radisson.

The restless Radisson could not, however, be satisfied. No doubt he
felt his services to be of great value, and he now illustrated what was
really the weakness of his whole life, a want of honest reliability. The
Company had done as well for him as its infant resources would allow,
but along with Groseilliers he deserted from London, and sought to
return to the service of France under the distinguished Prime Minister

The shrewd Colbert knew well Radisson's instability. This feature of his
character had been further emphasized by another event in Radisson's
life. He had married a daughter of Sir John Kirke, one of the Hudson's
Bay Company promoters, and a member of the well-known family which
had distinguished itself in the capture of Canada, nearly fifty years
before. This English and domestic connection made Colbert suspicious
of Radisson. However, he agreed to pay Radisson and Groseilliers the
sum of their debts, amounting to 400_l._, and to give them lucrative
employment. The condition of his further employment was that Radisson
should bring his wife to France, but he was unable to get either his
wife or her father to consent to this. The Kirke family, it must be
remembered, were still owners of a claim amounting to 341,000_l._
against France, which had been left unsettled during the time of
Champlain, when England restored Canada to France.

For seven years Radisson vacillated between the two countries. Under the
French he went for one season on a voyage to the West Indies, and was
even promised promotion in the French marine. At one time he applied
again to the Hudson's Bay Company for employment, but was refused.
The fixed determination of his wife not to leave England on the one
hand, and the settled suspicion of the French Government on the other,
continually thwarted him. At length, in 1681, Radisson and Groseilliers
were sent by the French to Canada, to undertake a trading expedition
to Hudson Bay. The lack of money, and also of full confidence, led to
their venture being poorly provided for. In July, 1682, rendezvous was
made at Ile Percée, in the lower St. Lawrence, by Radisson in a wretched
old vessel of ten tons, and by Groseilliers in a rather better craft of
fifteen tons burthen.

No better could be done, however, and so, after many mishaps, including
serious mutinies, dangers of ice and flood, and hairbreadth escapes, the
two vessels reached the mouth of the Hayes River on Hudson Bay. They
determined to trade at this point. Groseilliers undertook to build a
small fort on this river, and Radisson went inland on a canoe expedition
to meet the natives. In this Radisson was fairly successful and gathered
a good quantity of furs.

The French adventurers were soon surprised to find that an English
party had taken possession of the mouth of the Nelson River, and were
establishing a fort. Radisson opened communication with the English,
and found them in charge of Governor Bridgar, but really led by young
Gillam, son of the old captain of the _Nonsuch_. The versatile Frenchman
soon met a fine field for his diplomatic arts. He professed great
friendship for the new comers, exchanged frequent visits with them,
and became acquainted with all their affairs. Finding the English short
of provisions, he supplied their lack most generously, and offered to
render them any service.

Governor Bridgar was entirely unable to cope with the wiles of Radisson.
Matters were so arranged that Jean Baptiste Groseilliers, his nephew,
was left in charge of the forts, to carry on the trade during the next
winter, and with his brother-in-law, Groseilliers, and Governor Bridgar,
somewhat of a voluntary prisoner, Radisson sailed away to Canada in
Gillam's ship. On reaching Canada Governor De la Barre restored the ship
to the English, and in it Bridgar and Gillam sailed to New England,
whence in due time they departed for England. The whole affair has
a Quixotic appearance, and it is not surprising that Radisson and
Groseilliers were summoned to report themselves to Colbert in France and
to receive his marked displeasure. Their adventure had, however, been so
successful, and the prospects were so good, that the French Government
determined to send them out again, in two ships, to reap the fruits of
the winter's work of the younger Groseilliers.

Now occurred another of Radisson's escapades. The French expedition was
ready to start in April. The day (24th) was fixed. Radisson asked for
delay, pleading important private business in England. On May 10th he
arrived in England, and we find him, without any compunction, entering
into negotiations with the Hudson's Bay Company, and as a result playing
the traitor to his engagements in France, his native country.

The entry in the Company's minutes bearing on this affair is as

                                                      "_May 12th, 1684._

  "Sir James Hayes and Mr. Young, that Peter Esprit Radisson has arrived
  from France; that he has offered to enter their service; that they
  took him to Windsor and presented him to His Royal Highness; that they
  had agreed to give him 50_l._ per annum, 200_l._ worth of stock, and
  20_l._ to set him up to proceed to Port Nelson; and his brother
  (in-law) Groseilliers to have 20_s._ per week, if he come from France
  over to Britain and be true. Radisson took the oath of fidelity to the

A few days later Radisson took the ship _Happy Return_ to Hudson Bay.
Sailing immediately to Hayes River, Radisson found that his nephew, J.
Baptiste Groseilliers, had removed his post to an island in the river.
On his being reached, Radisson explained to him the change that had
taken place, and that he proposed to transfer everything, establishment
and peltry, to the Hudson's Bay Company. Young Groseilliers, being loyal
to France, objected to this, but Radisson stated that there was no
option, and he would be compelled to submit. The whole quantity of furs
transferred to Radisson by his nephew was 20,000--an enormous capture
for the Hudson's Bay Company. In the autumn Radisson returned in the
Hudson's Bay Company's ship, bringing the great store of booty.

At a meeting of the Committee of the Company (October 7th), "a packet
was read from Pierre Radisson showing how he had brought his countrymen
to submit to the English. He was thanked, and a gratuity of 100 guineas
given him." It is also stated that "a promise having been made of
20_s._ per week to Groseilliers, and he not having come, the same is
transferred to his son in the bay." The minute likewise tells us that
"Sir William Young was given a present of seven musquash skins for being
instrumental in inviting Radisson over from France." From this we infer
that Sir William, who, as we shall afterwards see, was a great friend
and promoter of Radisson, had been the active agent in inducing Radisson
to leave the service of France and enter that of the English Company.

The Company further showed its appreciation of Radisson's service by
voting him 100_l._ to be given to four Frenchmen left behind in Hudson
Bay. Jean Baptiste Groseilliers, nephew of Radisson, was also engaged by
the Company for four years in the service at 100_l._ a year. Radisson
seems to have had some dispute with the Company as to the salary at
this time. On May 6th, 1685, his salary when out of England was raised
to 100_l._ a year, and 300_l._ to his wife in case of his death.
Radisson refused to accept these terms. The Company for a time would
not increase its offer, but the time for the ship to sail was drawing
nigh, and the Committee gave way and added to the above amount 100_l._
of stock to be given to his wife. John Bridgar was appointed Governor at
Port Nelson for three years, and Radisson superintendent of the trade
there. Radisson was satisfied with the new terms, and that the Company
was greatly impressed with the value of his services is seen in the
following entry: "A hogshead of claret being ordered for Mr. Radisson,
'such as Mr. R. shall like.'"

In the year 1685-6 all hitherto printed accounts of Radisson leave our
redoubtable explorer. We are, for the history up to this date, much
indebted to the Prince Society of Boston for printing an interesting
volume containing the journals of Radisson, which are preserved in the
British Museum in London and in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Dr. N. E. Dionne, the accomplished librarian of the Legislative Library,
Quebec, has contributed to the proceedings of the Royal Society of
Canada very appreciative articles entitled, "Chouart and Radisson."
In these he has relied for the detail of facts of discovery almost
entirely on the publication of the Prince Society. He has, however,
added much genealogical and local Canadian material, which tends to make
the history of these early explorers more interesting than it could
otherwise be.

A resident of Manitoba, who has shown an interest in the legends and
early history of Canada, Mr. L. A. Prudhomme, St. Boniface, Judge of
the County, has written a small volume of sixty pages on the life of
Radisson. Like the articles of Dr. Dionne, this volume depends entirely
for its information on the publication of the Prince Society.

Readers of fiction are no doubt familiar with the appearance of Radisson
in Gilbert Parker's novel, "The Trail of the Sword." It is unnecessary
to state that there seems no historic warrant for the statement, "Once
he attempted Count Frontenac's life. He sold a band of our traders to
the Iroquois." The character, thoroughly repulsive in this work of
fiction, does not look to be the real Radisson; and certainly as we
survey the bloody scene, which must have been intended for a period
subsequent to Frontenac's return to Canada in 1689, where Radisson fell
done to death by the dagger and pistol of the mutineer Bucklaw and was
buried in the hungry sea, we see what was purely imaginary. Of course,
we do not for a moment criticize the art of the historic novelist, but
simply state that the picture is not that of the real Radisson, and that
we shall find Radisson alive a dozen or more years after the tragic end
given him by the artist.

These three works, as well as the novel, agree in seeing in Radisson a
man of remarkable character and great skill and adroitness.


The Prince Society volume states: "We again hear of Radisson in Hudson
Bay in 1685, and this is his last appearance in public records as far as
is known." The only other reference is made by Dionne and Prudhomme in
stating that Charlevoix declares "that Radisson died in England."

Patient search in the archives of the Hudson's Bay Company in London
has enabled the writer to trace the history of Radisson on for many
years after the date given, and to unearth a number of very interesting
particulars connected with him; indeed, to add some twenty-five years
hitherto unknown to our century to his life, and to see him pass from
view early in 1710.

In 1687, Radisson was still in the employ of the Company, and the
Committee decided that he should be made a denizen or subject of
England. He arrived from Hudson Bay in October of this year, appeared
before the Hudson's Bay Company Committee, and was welcomed by its
members. It was decided that 50_l._ be given as a gratuity to the
adventurer till he should be again employed. On June 24th, 1688,
Radisson again sailed in the ship for Hudson Bay, and during that year
he was paid 100_l._ as 50 per cent. dividend on his 200_l._ worth of
stock, and in the following year 50_l._ as 25 per cent. dividend on
his stock. As the following year, 1690, was the time of the "great
dividend," Radisson was again rejoiced by the amount of 150_l._ as his
share of the profits.

The prosperity of the Company appears to have led to an era of
extravagance, and to certain dissensions within the Company itself. The
amounts paid Radisson were smaller in accordance with the straits in
which the Company found itself arising from French rivalry on the Bay.
In 1692 Sir William Young is seen strongly urging fuller consideration
for Radisson, who was being paid at the reduced rate of 50_l._ a year.

In the Hudson's Bay Company letter-book of this period we find a most
interesting memorial of Sir William Young's in behalf of Radisson, with
answers by the Company, on the whole confirming our narrative, but
stating a few divergent points.

We give the memorial in full.

Dated December 20th, 1692, being plea of William Young, in behalf of
Pierre Esprit Radisson:--

"Radisson, born a Frenchman, educated from a child in Canada, spent
youth hunting and commercing with the Indians adjacent to Hudson Bay,
master of the language, customs, and trade.

"Radisson being at New England about twenty-seven or twenty-eight years
past, met there with Colonel Nichols, Governor of New York, and was by
him persuaded to go to England and proffer his services to King Charles
the Second, in order to make a settlement of an English factory in that

"At his arrival, the said King, giving credit to Radisson for that
undertaking, granted to Prince Rupert, the Duke of Albemarle, and
others, the same Charter we do still claim by, thereby constituting
them the proprietors of the said bay, under which authority he, the
said Radisson, went immediately and made an English settlement there
according to his promises.

"On his return to England the King presented him with a medal and gold
chain. When rejected by the Company, he was compelled to return to
Canada, his only place of abode. Joined the French and led an expedition
to Hudson Bay. With the aid of Indians destroyed Company's factory and
planted a New England factory in Port Nelson River.

"During the winter Radisson did no violence to the English, but supplied
them with victuals, powder, and shot when their ship was cast away.
Refused a present from the Indians to destroy the English, and gave them
a ship to convey them away. Afterwards settled the French factory higher
up the same river, where his alliance with the Indians was too strong
for New England or Old England, and immediately after he went to France.
Mr. Young, member of the Hudson's Bay Company, with leave from Sir James
Hayes, deputy-governor, tried to hire him back to Hudson's Bay Company's
service with large promises. During negotiations, Radisson unexpectedly
arrived in London. Company's ships were ready to sail. Had just time
to kiss the King's hand at Windsor and that of the Duke of York, then
governor. They commended him to the care and kindness of Sir James Hayes
and the Hudson's Bay Company, and commanded that he should be made an
English citizen, which was done in his absence.

"Before sending him, the Company gave him two original actions in
Hudson's Bay Company stock, and 50_l._ for subsistence money, with large
promises of future rewards for expected service.

"Arriving at Port Nelson he put Company in entire possession of that
river, brought away the French to England, and took all the beavers and
furs they had traded and gave them to the Company without asking share
of the profits, although they sold for 7,000_l._

"He was kindly welcomed in England and again commended by the King.
Committee presented him with 100 guineas, and entered in the books
that he should have 50_l._ added to the former 50_l._, until the King
should find him a place, when the last 50_l._ should cease. Had no place
given him. Sir Edward Dering, deputy governor, influenced Committee to
withdraw 50_l._, so he had only 50_l._ to maintain self, wife, and four
or five children, and servants, 24_l._ of this going for house-rent.
When chief factor at Nelson, was tempted by servants to continue to
cheat the Company, was beaten because he refused.

     "Prays for payment of 100_l._ and arrears, because:

     "1. All but Sir Edward Dering think it just and reasonable.

     "2. No place was given in lieu of 50_l._

     "3. Of fidelity to the Company in many temptations.

     "4. He never asked more than the Company chose to give.

     "5. Imprisoned in bay in time of trade for not continuing to cheat
     the Company.

     "6. The Company received from Port Nelson, after he gave it
     them, 100,000_l._ worth of furs, which is now believed would have
     been lost, with their whole interest in the bay, if he had not
     joined them when invited.

     "7. The original actions and the 100_l._ revert to the Company
     at his death.

     "8. Income inadequate to maintain wife and children in London.

     "9. Debts great from necessity. Would be compelled to leave
     wife and children and shift for himself.

     "10. He cannot sell original actions, since they cease with
     his life.

     "11. Of King Charles' many recommendations to kindness of

     "12. French have a price on his head as a traitor, so that he
     cannot safely go home.

     "13. Mr. Young further pleads that as Mr. Radisson was the
     author of the Company's prosperity, so he (Mr. Young) was the first
     to persuade him to join their service. That he (Mr. Young) had been
     offered a reward for his services in persuading him, which he had
     utterly refused. But now that this reward be given in the form of
     maintenance for Radisson in his great necessity, &c."

The Committee passes over the sketch of Radisson's life, which they do
not gainsay.

In the second paragraph, they observe that Mr. Young stated their
neglect to maintain Mr. Radisson without mentioning their reasons for
so doing, which might have shown whether it was their unkindness or
Radisson's desert.

They go on to take notice of the fact that about 1681 or 1682, Radisson
and Groseilliers entered into another contract with the Company and
received 20_l._ Soon afterwards they absconded, went to France,
and thence to Canada. Next year they joined their countrymen in an
expedition to Port Nelson, animated by the report of Mr. Abram to the
Company that it was the best place for a factory. They took their two
barks up as far as they durst for fear of the English. Then the French
in the fall built a small hut, which Mr. Young says was too strong for
either New England or Old England without guns or works--a place merely
to sleep in, manned only with seven French.

This expedition, Mr. Young saith, was at first prejudicial to the
Company, but afterward of great advantage, which he cannot apprehend.

In another place Mr. Young is pleased to state that the New England
settlement was so strong that the Old could not destroy it. Old England
settlement was only a house unfortified, which Bridgar built to keep the
goods dry, because Gillam's boat arrived late.

"1. Mr. Young says all are in favour of Radisson but Sir Edward Dering,
we have not met with any who are in favour but Mr. Young. Those who give
gratuity should know why.

"2. That he had no place or honour given him is no reason for giving
gratuity, there being no contract in the case.

"3. Never found him accused of cheating and purloining, but breach of
contract with Company, after receiving their money, we do find him
guilty of.

"4. Says he never did capitulate with the Company. Find he did (see
minutes), May 6th, 1685.

"5. Cannot believe Radisson was beaten by the Company's servants.
Greater increase of furs after he left, &c., &c., &c."

This memorial and its answer show the rather unreasonable position
taken by the Company. In the time of its admiration for Radisson and of
fat dividends, it had provided liberal things; but when money became
scarce, then it was disposed to make matters pleasing to itself, despite
the claims of Radisson. In the year following the presenting of the
memorial, it is stated in the minutes that "Radisson was represented to
the Company as in a low and mean condition." At this time it was ordered
that 50_l._ be paid Radisson and to be repaid out of the next dividend.

The unreasonable position assumed by the Company, in withholding a part
of the salary which they had promised in good faith, filled Radisson
with a sense of injustice. No doubt guided by his friend, Sir William
Young, who, on account of his persistence on behalf of the adventurer,
was now dropped from the Committee of the Company, Radisson filed a bill
in Chancery against the Company, and in July, 1694, notice of this was
served upon the Committee.

Much consternation appears to have filled their minds, and the
Deputy-Governor, Sir Samuel Clark, reported shortly after having used
200_l._ for secret service, the matter being seemingly connected with
this case.

Notwithstanding the great influence of the Company, the justice of
Radisson's claims prevailed, and the Court of Chancery ordered the
payment of arrears in full. The Committee afterwards met Sir William
Young and Richard Craddock, who upheld Radisson's claim. It is reported
that they agreed to settle the matter by paying Radisson 150_l._, he
giving a release, and that he should be paid, under seal, 100_l._ per
annum for life, except in those years when the Company should make a
dividend, and then but 50_l._ according to the original agreement.
Radisson then received, as the minutes show, his salary regularly from
this time.

In 1698, the Company asked for the renewal by Parliament of its Charter.
Radisson petitioned Parliament for consideration, asking that before
the request made by the Company for the confirmation of the privileges
sought were granted, a clause should be inserted protecting him in the
regular payment of the amounts due to him from time to time by the

At the time of his petition to Parliament he states that he has four
young children, and has only the 100_l._ a year given by the Company to
live on. In the year 1700 he was still struggling with his straitened
circumstances, for in that year he applied to the Company to be
appointed warehouse-keeper for the London premises, but his application
was refused. His children, of whom he is said to have had nine, appear
to have passed over to Canada and to have become a part of the Canadian
people. His brother-in-law, Groseilliers, had also returned to his
adopted Canada, but is stated to have died before 1698.

Regularly during the succeeding years the quarterly amount is voted to
Radisson by the Company, until January 6th, 1710, when the last quota
of 12_l._ 10_s._ was ordered to be given. About this time, at the ripe
age of seventy-four, passed away Pierre Esprit Radisson, one of the
most daring and ingenious men of his time. We know nothing of his death,
except from the fact that his pension ceased to be paid.

Judge Prudhomme, to whose appreciative sketch of Radisson in French we
have already referred, well summarizes his life. We translate:--

"What a strange existence was that of this man! By turns discoverer,
officer of marine, organizer and founder of the most commercial company
which has existed in North America, his life presents an astonishing
variety of human experiences.

"He may be seen passing alternately from the wigwams of the miserable
savages to the court of the great Colbert; from managing chiefs of the
tribes to addressing the most illustrious nobles of Great Britain.

"His courage was of a high order. He looked death in the face more than
a hundred times without trepidation. He braved the tortures and the
stake among the Iroquois, the treacherous stratagems of the savages of
the West, the rigorous winters of the Hudson Bay, and the tropical heat
of the Antilles.

"Of an adventurous nature, drawn irresistibly to regions unknown,
carried on by the enthusiasm of his voyages, always ready to push out
into new dangers, he could have been made by Fenimore Cooper one of the
heroes of his most exciting romances.

"The picture of his life consequently presents many contrasts. The life
of a brigand, which he led with a party of Iroquois, cannot be explained

"He was blamable in a like manner for having deserted the flag of
France, his native country. The first time we might, perhaps, pardon
him, for he was the victim of grave injustice on the part of the
government of the colony.

"No excuse could justify his second desertion. He had none to offer,
not one. He avowed very candidly that he sought the service of England
because he preferred it to that of France.

"In marrying the daughter of Mr. John Kirke, he seems to have espoused
also the nationality of her family. As for him, he would have needed to
change the proverb, and, in the place of 'One who marries a husband
takes his country,' to say, 'One who marries a wife takes her country.'

"The celebrated discover of the North-West, the illustrious Le
Verendrye, has as much as Radisson, and even more than he, of just
reason to complain of the ingratitude of France; yet how different was
his conduct!

"Just as his persecutions have placed upon the head of the first a
new halo of glory, so they have cast upon the brow of the second an
ineffaceable stain.

"Souls truly noble do not seek in treason the recompense for the rights
denied them."

(For a detailed chronological account of Radisson's life, see Appendix
B, page 487.)



     The golden lilies in danger--"To arrest Radisson"--The
     land called "Unknown"--A chain of claim--Imaginary
     pretensions--Chevalier de Troyes--The brave Lemoynes--Hudson Bay
     forts captured--A litigious governor--Laugh at treaties--The glory
     of France--Enormous claims--Consequential damages.

The two great nations which were seeking supremacy in North America came
into collision all too soon on the shores of Hudson Bay. Along the shore
of the Atlantic, England claimed New England and much of the coast to
the southward. France was equally bent on holding New France and Acadia.
Now that England had begun to occupy Hudson Bay, France was alarmed, for
the enemy would be on her northern as well as on her southern border. No
doubt, too, France feared that her great rival would soon seek to drive
her golden lilies back to the Old World, for New France would be a wedge
between the northern and southern possessions of England in the New

The movement leading to the first voyage to Hudson Bay by Gillam and his
company was carefully watched by the French Government. In February,
1668, at which time Gillam's expedition had not yet sailed, the Marquis
de Denonville, Governor of Canada, appointed an officer to go in search
of the most advantageous posts and occupy the shores of the Baie du Nord
and the embouchures of the rivers that enter therein. Among other things
the governor gave orders "to arrest especially the said Radisson and his
adherents wherever they may be found."

Intendant Talon, in 1670, sent home word to M. Colbert that ships had
been seen near Hudson Bay, and that it was likely that they were
English, and were "under the guidance of a man des Grozeliers, formerly
an inhabitant of Canada."

The alarm caused the French by the movements of the English adventurers
was no doubt increased by the belief that Hudson Bay was included in
French territory. The question of what constituted ownership or priority
of claim was at this time a very difficult one among the nations.
Whether mere discovery or temporary occupation could give the right of
ownership was much questioned. Colonization would certainly be admitted
to do so, provided there had been founded "certain establishments." But
the claim of France upon Hudson Bay would appear to have been on the
mere ground of the Hudson Bay region being contiguous or neighbouring
territory to that held by the French.

The first claim made by France was under the commission, as Viceroy to
Canada, given in 1540 by the French King to Sieur de Roberval, which no
doubt covered the region about Hudson Bay, though not specifying it. In
1598 Lescarbot states that the commission given to De La Roche contained
the following: "New France has for its boundaries on the west the
Pacific Ocean within the Tropic of Cancer; on the south the islands of
the Atlantic towards Cuba and Hispaniola; on the east, the Northern Sea
which washes its shores, embracing in the north the land called Unknown
toward the Frozen Sea, up to the Arctic Pole."

The sturdy common sense of Anglo-Saxon England refused to be bound by
the contention that a region admittedly "Unknown" could be held on a
mere formal claim.

The English pointed out that one of their expeditions under Henry Hudson
in 1610 had actually discovered the Bay and given it its name; that Sir
Thomas Button immediately thereafter had visited the west side of the
Bay and given it the name of New Wales; that Captain James had, about a
score of years after Hudson, gone to the part of the Bay which continued
to bear his name, and that Captain Fox had in the same year reached
the west side of the Bay. This claim of discovery was opposed to the
fanciful claims made by France. The strength of the English contention,
now enforced by actual occupation and the erection of Charles Fort,
made it necessary to obtain some new basis of objection to the claim of

It is hard to resist the conclusion that a deliberate effort was
made to invent some ground of prior discovery in order to meet the
visible argument of a fort now occupied by the English. M. de la
Potherie, historian of New France, made the assertion that Radisson and
Groseilliers had crossed from Lake Superior to the Baie du Nord (Hudson
Bay). It is true, as we have seen, that Oldmixon, the British writer
of a generation or two later, states the same thing. This claim is,
however, completely met by the statement made by Radisson of his third
voyage that they heard only from the Indians on Lake Superior of the
Northern Bay, but had not crossed to it by land. We have disposed of
the matter of his fourth voyage. The same historian also puts forward
what seems to be pure myth, that one Jean Bourdon, a Frenchman, entered
the Bay in 1656 and engaged in trade. It was stated also that a priest,
William Couture, sent by Governor D'Avaugour of New France, had in
1663 made a missionary establishment on the Bay. These are unconfirmed
statements, having no details, and are suspicious in their time of
origination. The Hudson's Bay Company's answer states that Bourdon's
voyage was to another part of Canada, going only to 53° N., and not
to the Bay at all. Though entirely unsupported, these claims were
reiterated as late as 1857 by Hon. Joseph Cauchon in his case on behalf
of Canada _v._ Hudson's Bay Company. M. Jeremie, who was Governor of the
French forts in Hudson Bay in 1713, makes the statement that Radisson
and Groseilliers had visited the Bay overland, for which there is no
warrant, but the Governor does not speak of Bourdon or Couture. This
contradiction of De la Potherie's claim is surely sufficient proof
that there is no ground for credence of the stories, which are purely
apocryphal. It is but just to state, however, that the original claim of
Roberval and De la Roche had some weight in the negotiations which took
place between the French and English Governments over this matter.

M. Colbert, the energetic Prime Minister of France, at any rate made up
his mind that the English must be excluded from Hudson Bay. Furthermore,
the fur trade of Canada was beginning to feel very decidedly the
influence of the English traders in turning the trade to their factories
on Hudson Bay. The French Prime Minister, in 1678, sent word to
Duchesnau, the Intendant of Canada, to dispute the right of the English
to erect factories on Hudson Bay. Radisson and Groseilliers, as we have
seen, had before this time deserted the service of England and returned
to that of France. With the approval of the French Government, these
facile agents sailed to Canada and began the organization, in 1681, of
a new association, to be known as "The Northern Company." Fitted out
with two small barks, _Le St. Pierre_ and _La Ste. Anne_, in 1682, the
adventurers, with their companions, appeared before Charles Fort, which
Groseilliers had helped to build, but do not seem to have made any
hostile demonstration against it. Passing away to the west side of the
Bay, these shrewd explorers entered the River Ste. Therese (the Hayes
River of to-day) and there erected an establishment, which they called
Fort Bourbon.

This was really one of the best trading points on the Bay. Some dispute
as to even the occupancy of this point took place, but it would seem
as if Radisson and Groseilliers had the priority of a few months over
the English party that came to establish a fort at the mouth of the
adjoining River Nelson. The two adventurers, Radisson and Groseilliers,
in the following year came, as we have seen, with their ship-load of
peltries to Canada, and it is charged that they attempted to unload
a part of their cargo of furs before reaching Quebec. This led to a
quarrel between them and the Northern Company, and the adroit fur
traders again left the service of France to find their way back to
England. We have already seen how completely these two Frenchmen, in
the year 1684, took advantage of their own country at Fort Bourbon and
turned over the furs to the Hudson's Bay Company.

The sense of injury produced on the minds of the French by the treachery
of these adventurers stirred the authorities up to attack the posts in
Hudson Bay. Governor Denonville now came heartily to the aid of the
Northern Company, and commissioned Chevalier de Troyes to organize an
overland expedition from Quebec to Hudson Bay. The love of adventure
was strong in the breasts of the young French _noblesse_ in Canada.
Four brothers of the family Le Moyne had become known for their deeds
of valour along the English frontier. Leader among the valorous
French-Canadians was Le Moyne D'Iberville, who, though but twenty-four
years of age, had already performed prodigies of daring. Maricourt, his
brother, was another fiery spirit, who was known to the Iroquois by a
name signifying "the little bird which is always in motion." Another
leader was Ste. Helene. With a party of chosen men these intrepid
spirits left the St. Lawrence in March, 1685, and threaded the streams
of the Laurentian range to the shore of Hudson Bay.

[Illustration: LE MOYNE D'IBERVILLE.]

After nearly three months of the most dangerous and exciting adventures,
the party reached their destination. The officers and men of the
Hudson's Bay Company's service were chiefly civilians unaccustomed
to war, and were greatly surprised by the sudden appearance upon the
Bay of their doughty antagonists. At the mouth of the Moose River one
of the Hudson's Bay Company forts was situated, and here the first
attack was made. It was a fort of considerable importance, having four
bastions, and was manned by fourteen guns. It, however, fell before the
fierce assault of the forest rangers. The chief offence in the eyes of
the French was Charles Fort on the Rupert River, that being the first
constructed by the English Company. This was also captured and its
fortifications thrown down. At the same time that the main body were
attacking Charles Fort, the brothers Le Moyne, with a handful of picked
men, stealthily approached in two canoes one of the Company's vessels in
the Bay and succeeded in taking it.

The largest fort on the Bay was that in the marshy region on Albany
River. It was substantially built with four bastions and was provided
with forty-three guns. The rapidity of movement and military skill of
the French expedition completely paralyzed the Hudson's Bay Company
officials and men. Governor Sargeant, though having in Albany Fort furs
to the value of 50,000 crowns, after a slight resistance surrendered
without the honours of war. The Hudson's Bay Company employés were
given permission to return to England and in the meantime the Governor
and his attendants were taken to Charlton Island and the rest of the
prisoners to Moose Fort. D'Iberville afterwards took the prisoners to
France, whence they came back to England.

A short time after this the Company showed its disapproval of Governor
Sargeant's course in surrendering Fort Albany so readily. Thinking they
could mark their disapprobation more strongly, they brought an action
against Governor Sargeant in the courts to recover 20,000_l._ After
the suit had gone some distance, they agreed to refer the matter to
arbitration, and the case was ended by the Company having to pay to
the Governor 350_l._ The affair, being a family quarrel, caused some
amusement to the public.

The only place of importance now remaining to the English on Hudson Bay
was Port Nelson, which was near the French Fort Bourbon. D'Iberville,
utilizing the vessel he had captured on the Bay, went back to Quebec in
the autumn of 1687 with the rich booty of furs taken at the different

These events having taken place at a time when the two countries, France
and England, were nominally at peace, negotiations took place between
the two Powers.

Late in the year 1686 a treaty of neutrality was signed, and it was
hoped that peace would ensue on Hudson Bay. This does not seem to have
been the case, however, and both parties blame each other for not
observing the terms of the Act of Pacification. D'Iberville defended
Albany Fort from a British attack in 1689, departed in that year for
Quebec with a ship-load of furs, and returned to Hudson Bay in the
following year. During the war which grew out of the Revolution, Albany
Fort changed hands again to the English, and was afterwards retaken
by the French, after which a strong English force (1692) repossessed
themselves of it. For some time English supremacy was maintained on the
Bay, but the French merely waited their time to attack Fort Bourbon,
which they regarded as in a special sense their own. In 1694 D'Iberville
visited the Bay, besieged and took Fort Bourbon, and reduced the place
with his two frigates. His brother De Chateauguay was killed during the

In 1697 the Bay again fell into English hands, and D'Iberville was
put in command of a squadron sent out for him from France, and with
this he sailed for Hudson Bay. The expedition brought unending glory to
France and the young commander. Though one of his warships was crushed
in the ice in the Hudson Straits and his remaining vessels could nowhere
be seen when he reached the open waters of the Bay, yet he bravely
sailed to Port Nelson, purposing to invest it in his one ship, the
_Pelican_. Arrived at his station, he observed that he was shut in on
the rear by three English men-of-war. His condition was desperate; he
had not his full complement of men, and some of those on board were
sick. His vessel had but fifty guns; the English vessels carried among
them 124. The English vessels, the _Hampshire_, the _Dering_, and the
_Hudson's Bay_, all opened fire upon him. During a hot engagement, a
well-aimed broadside from the _Pelican_ sank the _Hampshire_ with all
her sails flying, and everything on board was lost; the _Hudson's Bay_
surrendered unconditionally, and the _Dering_ succeeded in making her
escape. After this naval duel D'Iberville's missing vessels appeared,
and the commander, landing a sufficient number of men, invested and took
Port Nelson. The whole of the Hudson Bay territory thus came into the
possession of the French. The matter has always, however, been looked at
in the light of the brilliant achievement of this scion of the Le Moynes.

Few careers have had the uninterrupted success of that of Pierre Le
Moyne D'Iberville, although this fortune reached its climax in the
exploit in Hudson Bay. Nine years afterwards the brilliant soldier
died of yellow fever at Havana, after he had done his best in a
colonization enterprise to the mouth of the Mississippi which was
none too successful. Though the treaty of Ryswick, negotiated in this
year of D'Iberville's triumphs, brought for the time the cessation of
hostilities, yet nearly fifteen years of rivalry, and for much of the
time active warfare, left their serious traces on Hudson's Bay Company
affairs. A perusal of the minutes of the Hudson's Bay Company during
this period gives occasional glimpses of the state of war prevailing,
although it must be admitted not so vivid a picture as might have been
expected. As was quite natural, the details of attacks, defences,
surrenders, and parleys come to us from French sources rather than
from the Company's books. That the French accounts are correct is fully
substantiated by the memorials presented by the Company to the British
Government, asking for recompense for losses sustained.

In 1687 a petition was prepared by the Hudson's Bay Company, and a copy
of it is found in one of the letter-books of the Company. This deals
to some extent with the contention of the French king, which had been
lodged with the British Government, claiming priority of ownership of
the regions about Hudson Bay. The arguments advanced are chiefly those
to which we have already referred. The claim for compensation made upon
the British Government by the Company is a revelation of how seriously
the French rivalry had interfered with the progress of the fur trade.
After still more serious conflict had taken place in the Bay, and the
Company had come to be apprehensive for its very existence, another
petition was laid before His Majesty William III., in 1694. This
petition, which also contained the main facts of the claim of 1687, is
so important that we give some of the details of it. It is proper to
state, however, that a part of the demand is made up of what has since
been known as "consequential damages," and that in consequence the
matter lingered on for at least two decades.

The damages claimed were:--

  1682. Captain Gillam and cargo on _Prince Rupert_.     £    _s._  _d._
        (Captain and a number of men, cargo, and
        ship all lost in hostilities.) Governor
        Bridgar and men seized and carried to
        Quebec                     Moderate damages    25,000   0    0

  September, 1684. French with two ships built a
        small house and interrupted Indian trade
                                            Damages    10,000   0    0

  1685. French took _Perpetuana_ and cargo to Quebec.
                                            Damages     5,000   0    0
        For ship, master, and men           Damages     1,255  16    3

  1686. French destroyed three of Company's ships at
        bottom of Bay, and also three ships' stores,
        etc., and took 50,000 beaver skins, and
        turned out to sea a number of His Majesty's
        subjects                                       50,000   0    0

  1682-6. Five years' losses about Forts (10,000
        beaver skins yearly)                           20,000   0    0

  1688. Company's ships _Churchill_ and _Young_
        seized by French                               10,000   0    0

  1692. Company sent out expedition to retake Forts,
        which cost them                                20,000   0    0
  1686-93. French possessed bottom of the Bay for
        seven years. Loss, 10,000_l._ a year           70,000   0    0
                                            Damages    20,000   0    0
        Total damages claimed                        £211,255  16    3



     The "Grand Monarque" humbled--Caught napping--The Company
     in peril--Glorious Utrecht--Forts restored--Damages to be
     considered--Commission useless.

Louis XIV. of France, by his ambition and greed in 1690, united against
himself the four nations immediately surrounding him--Germany, Spain,
Holland, and England, in what they called "The Grand Alliance." Battles,
by land and sea for six years, brought Louis into straits, unrelieved by
such brilliant episodes as the naval prodigies wrought by D'Iberville
on Hudson Bay. In 1696, "Le Grand Monarque" was sufficiently humbled to
make overtures for peace. The opposing nations accepted these, and on
May 9th, 1697, the representatives of the nations met at William III.'s
Château of Neuberg Hansen, near the village of Ryswick, which is in
Belgium, a short distance from the Hague.

Louis had encouraged the Jacobite cause, James III. being indeed a
resident of the Castle of St. Germain, near Paris. This had greatly
irritated William, and one of the first things settled at the Treaty was
the recognition of William as rightful King of England.

Article VII. of the Treaty compelled the restoration to the King of
France and the King of Great Britain respectively of "all countries,
islands, forts, and colonies," which either had possessed before the
declaration of war in 1690. However satisfactory this may have been in
Acadia and Newfoundland, we find that it did not meet the case of the
Hudson Bay, inasmuch as the ownership of this region was, as we have
seen, claimed by both parties before the war. In the documents of the
Company there is evidence of the great anxiety caused to the adventurers
when the news reached London, as to what was likely to be the basis of
settlement of the Treaty. The adventurers at once set themselves to work
to bring influence to bear against the threatened result. The impression
seemed to prevail that they had been "caught napping," and possibly they
could not accomplish anything. Their most influential deputation came to
the Hague, and, though late in the day, did avail somewhat.

No doubt Article VII. of the Treaty embodies the results of their
influence. It is so important for our purpose that we give it in
full:--"Commissioners should be appointed on both sides to examine and
determine the rights and pretensions which either of the said Kings have
to the places situated in Hudson Bay; but the possession of those places
which were taken by the French during the peace that preceded this war,
and were retaken by the English during this war, shall be left to the
French, by virtue of the foregoing articles. The capitulation made by
the English on September 5th, 1695, shall be observed according to the
form and tenor; the merchandises therein mentioned shall be restored;
the Governor at the fort taken there shall be set at liberty, if it
be not already done; the differences which have arisen concerning the
execution of the said capitulation and the value of the goods there
lost, shall be adjudicated and determined by the said commissioners;
who immediately after the ratification of the present Treaty, shall be
invested with sufficient authority for the setting of the limits and
confines of the lands to be restored on either side by virtue of the
foregoing article, and likewise for exchanging of lands, as may conduce
to the mutual interest and advantage of both Kings."

This agreement presents a few salient points:--

1. The concession to France of rights (undefined, it is true), but of
rights not hitherto acknowledged by the English.

2. The case of the Company, which would have been seriously prejudiced
by Article VII., is kept open, and commissioners are appointed to
examine and decide boundaries.

3. The claim for damages so urgently pressed by the Hudson's Bay Company
receives some recognition in the restoration of merchandize and the
investigation into the "value of the goods lost."

4. On the whole, the interests of the Hudson's Bay Company would seem to
have been decidedly prejudiced by the Treaty.

The affairs of the Company were in a very unfortunate condition for
fifteen years after the Treaty of Ryswick. The Treaty took place in the
very year of D'Iberville's remarkable victories in the Bay. That each
nation should hold that of which it was in actual possession meant that
of the seven Hudson's Bay Company forts, only Fort Albany was left to
the Company. The Company began to petition at once for the appointment
of the Commissioners provided by the Treaty, to settle the matter in
dispute. The desperate condition of their affairs accounts for the
memorials presented to the British Government by the Company in 1700 and
in the succeeding year, by which they expressed themselves as satisfied
to give the French the southern portion of the Bay from Rupert's River
on the east and Albany Fort on the west. About the time of the second of
these proposals the Hudson's Bay Company sent to the British Government
another petition of a very different tone, stating their perilous
condition, arising from their not receiving one-fifth of the usual
quantity of furs, even from Fort Albany, which made their year's trade
an absolute loss; they propose that an expedition of "three men-of-war,
one bomb-vessel, and 250 soldiers" should be sent to dislodge the French
and to regain the whole Bay for them, as being the original owners. No
steps on the part of the Ryswick Commissioners seem to have been taken
toward settling the question of boundaries in Hudson Bay.

The great Marlborough victories, however, crushed the power of France,
and when Louis XIV. next negotiated with the allies at Utrecht--"The
Ferry of the Rhine"--in 1713, the English case was in a very different
form from what it had been at the Treaty of Ryswick. Two years before
the Treaty, when it was evident that the war would be brought to an end,
the Hudson's Bay Company plucked up courage and petitioned strongly
to be allowed the use of the whole of Hudson Bay, and to have their
losses on the Bay repaid by France. Several times during the war had
France sued for peace at the hands of the allies, but the request had
been refused. To humble France seemed to be the fixed policy of all
her neighbours. At the end of the war, in which France was simply able
to hold what she could defend by her fortresses, the great kingdom
of Louis XIV. found itself "miserably exhausted, her revenue greatly
fallen off, her currency depreciated thirty per cent., the choicest of
her nobles drafted into the army, and her merchants and industrious
artisans weighed down to the ground by heavy imposts." This was
England's opportunity, and she profited by it. Besides "the balance of
power" in Europe being preserved, Great Britain received Nova Scotia,
Newfoundland, certain West India Islands, and the undisturbed control of
the Iroquois.

Sections X. and XI. of the Treaty are of special value to us in our
recital. By the former of these the entire west coast of Hudson Bay
became British; the French were to evacuate all posts on the Bay and
surrender all war material within six months; Commissioners were to be
appointed to determine within a year the boundary between Canada and
the British possessions on Hudson Bay. Section XI. provided "that the
French King should take care that satisfaction be given, according to
the rule of justice and equity, to the English Company trading to the
Bay of Hudson, for all damages and spoil done to their colonies, ships,
persons, and goods, by the hostile incursions and depredations of the
French in time of peace." This was to be arrived at by Commissioners to
be appointed.

If the Hudson's Bay Company, to quote their own language in regard to
the Treaty of Ryswick, had been left "the only mourners by the peace,"
they were to be congratulated on the results of the Treaty of Utrecht.
As in so many other cases, however, disputed points left to be settled
by Commissioners lingered long before results were reached. Six years
after the Treaty of Utrecht, the Memorial of the Hudson's Bay Company
shows that while they had received back their forts, yet the line of
delimitation between Canada had not been drawn and their losses had not
been paid.

In the preceding chapter we have a list of the claims against the French
as computed in 1694, amounting to upwards of 200,000_l._; now, however,
the amount demanded is not much above 100,000_l._, though the Memorial
explains that in making up the above modest sum, they had not counted up
the loss of their forts, nor the damage done to their trade, as had been
done in the former case. Immediately after the time of this Memorial of
the Company, the Commissioners were named by Great Britain and France,
and several meetings took place. Statements were then given in, chiefly
as to the boundaries between the British and French possessions in the
neighbourhood of Hudson Bay and Canada. The Commissioners for several
years practised all the arts of diplomacy, and were farther and farther
apart as the discussions went on. No result seems to have been reached,
and the claims of the Hudson's Bay Company, so far as recorded, were
never met. Peace, however, prevailed in Hudson Bay for many years; the
Indians from the interior, even to the Rocky Mountains, made their
visits to the Bay for the first forty years of the eighteenth century,
and the fur trade, undisturbed, became again remunerative.



     Stock rises--Jealousy aroused--Arthur Dobbs, Esq.--An
     ingenious attack--Appeal to the "Old Worthies"--Captain Christopher
     Middleton--Was the Company in earnest?--The sloop _Furnace_--Dobbs'
     fierce attack--The great subscription--Independent
     expedition--"Henry Ellis, gentleman"--"Without success"--Dobbs'
     real purpose.

When peace had been restored by the Treaty of Utrecht, the shores of
the Bay, which had been in the hands of the French since the Treaty of
Ryswick, were given over to Great Britain, according to the terms of the
Treaty; they have remained British ever since. The Company, freed from
the fears of overland incursions by the French from Canada, and from the
fleets that had worked so much mischief by sea, seems to have changed
character in the _personnel_ of the stockholders and to have lost a good
deal of the pristine spirit. The charge is made that the stockholders
had become very few, that the stock was controlled by a majority, who,
year after year, elected themselves, and that considering the great
privileges conferred by the Charter, the Company was failing to develop
the country and was sleeping in inglorious ease on the shores of Hudson
Bay. Certain it is that Sir Bibye Lake was re-elected Governor year
after year, from 1720 to 1740.

It would appear, however, to have been a spirit of jealousy which
animated those who made these discoveries as to the Company's inaction.
The return of peace had brought prosperity to the traders; and dividends
to the stockholders began to be a feature of company life which they had
not known for more than a quarter of a century. As we shall see, the
stock of the Company was greatly increased in 1720, and preparations
were being made by the Committee for a wide extension of their

About this time a man of great personal energy appears on the scene of
English commercial life, who became a bitter opponent of the Company,
and possessed such influence with the English Government that the
Company was compelled to make a strenuous defence. This was Arthur
Dobbs, Esq., an Irishman of undoubted ability and courage. He conducted
his plan of campaign against the Company along a most ingenious and
dangerous line of attack.

He revived the memory among the British people of the early voyages to
discover a way to the riches of the East, and appealed to the English
imagination by picturing the interior of the North American Continent,
with its vast meadows, splendid cascades, rich fur-bearing animals,
and numberless races of Indians, picturesquely dressed, as opening up
a field, if they could be reached, of lucrative trade to the London
merchants. To further his purpose he pointed out the sluggish character
of the Hudson's Bay Company, and clinched his arguments by quoting
the paragraph in the Charter which stated that the great privileges
conferred by generous Charles II. were bestowed in consideration of
their object having been "The Discovery of a New Passage into the South
Sea." Dobbs appealed to the sacrifices made and the glories achieved
in earlier days in the attempt to discover the North-West Passage. In
scores of pages, the indefatigable writer gives the accounts of the
early voyages.

We have but to give a passage or two from another author to show what a
powerful weapon Dobbs wielded, and to see how he succeeded in reviving a
question which had slumbered well nigh a hundred years, and which again
became a living question in the nineteenth century.

This writer says:--"It would lead us far beyond our limits were we
to chronicle all the reasons urged, and the attempts made to 'finde
out that short and easie passage by the North-west, which we have
hitherto so long desired.' Under the auspices of the 'Old Worthies'
really--though ostensibly countenanced by kings, queens, and nobles--up
rose a race of men, daring and enthusiastic, whose names would add
honour to any country, and embalm its history.

"Commencing with the reign of Henry VII., we have first, John Cabot
(1497), ever renowned; for he it was who first saw and claimed for the
'Banner of England,' the American continent. Sebastian, his son, follows
in the next year--a name honourable and wise. Nor may we omit Master
Robert Thorne of Bristol (1527); Master Hore (1536); and Master Michael
Lok (1545), of London--men who knew 'cosmography' and the 'weighty and
substantial reasons' for 'a discovery even to the North Pole.' For a
short time Arctic energy changed its direction from the North-west to
the North-east (discoveries of the Muscovy Company), but wanting success
in that quarter, again reverted to the North-west. Then we find Martin
Frobisher, George Best, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, James Davis, George
Waymouth, John Knight, the cruelly treated Henry Hudson, James Hall,
Sir Thomas Button, Fotherbye, Baffin and Bylot, 'North-west' Luke Fox,
Thomas James, &c.

"Thus, in the course of sixty years--now breaking the icy fetters
of the North, now chained by them; now big with high hope 'of the
Passage,' then beaten back by the terrific obstacles, as it were,
guarding it--notwithstanding, these men never faltered, never despaired
of finally accomplishing it. Their names are worthy to be held in
remembrance; for, with all their faults, all their strange fancies
and prejudices, still they were a daring and glorious race, calm
amid the most appalling dangers; what they did was done correctly,
as far as their limited means went; each added something that gave
us more extended views and a better acquaintance with the globe we
inhabit--giving especially large contributions to geography, with a more
fixed resolution to discover the 'Passage.' By them the whole of the
eastern face of North America was made known, and its disjointed lands
in the North, even to 77 deg. or 78 deg. N. Their names will last while
England is true to herself."

Mr. Dobbs awakened much interest among persons of rank in England as
to the desirability of finding a North-West Passage. Especially to the
Lords of the Admiralty, on whom he had a strong hold, did he represent
the glory and value of fitting out an expedition to Hudson Bay on this

Dobbs mentions in his book the unwilling efforts of the Hudson's Bay
Company to meet the demand for a wider examination of the Bay which
took place a few years after the Peace of Utrecht. In 1719, Captain
James Knight received orders from the Company to fit out an expedition
and sail up the west coast of the Bay. This he did in two ships, the
_Albany_ frigate, Captain George Barlow, and the _Discovery_, Captain
David Vaughan. Captain John Scroggs, in the ship _Whalebone_, two
years afterward, sailed up the coast in search of the expedition. It
is maintained by the opponents of the Company that these attempts were
a mere blind to meet the search for a North-West Passage, and that the
Company was averse to any real investigation being made.

It is of course impossible to say whether this charge was deserved or
not. The fact that no practicable North-West Passage has ever been
discovered renders the arguments drawn from the running of the tides,
&c., of no value, and certainly justifies the Company to some extent in
its inaction. The fact that in 1736 the Hudson's Bay Company yielded to
the claim raised by Dobbs and his associates, is to be noted in favour
of the Company's contention that while not believing in the existence of
the North-West Passage, they were willing to satisfy the excited mind of
the English public. Their expedition of the _Churchill_ sloop, Captain
Napper, and the _Musquash_ sloop, Captain Crow, accomplished nothing in
solving the question in dispute.

Disappointed with the efforts made by the Company at his request,
Dobbs, in 1737, took in hand to organize an expedition under Government
direction to go upon the search of the "Passage." At this time he opened
communication with Captain Christopher Middleton, one of the best known
captains in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company. Middleton, being
satisfied with the Company's service, refused to leave it. Dobbs then
asked him to recommend a suitable man, and also arranged with Middleton
to be allowed to examine the records kept of his voyages, upon the
Hudson's Bay Company ships. This, however, came to nothing.

About 1740 Captain Middleton had cause to differ with the Company on
business matters, and entertained Dobbs' proposition, which was that he
should be placed in command of a British man-of-war and go in search
of the long-sought North-West Passage. Middleton gave the Hudson's Bay
Company a year's notice, but found them unwilling to let him retire.

He had taken the step of resigning deliberately and adhered to it,
though he was disappointed in his command not being so remunerative as
he expected. In May, 1741, Captain Middleton received his orders from
the Lords of the Admiralty to proceed upon his journey and to follow the
directions given him as to finding a North-West Passage. These had been
prepared under Dobbs' supervision. Directions are given as to his course
of procedure, should he reach California, and also as to what should be
done in case of meeting Japanese ships. Middleton was placed in charge
of Her Majesty's sloop the _Furnace_, and had as a companion and under
his orders the _Discovery Pink_, William Moore, Master. In due time,
Hudson Bay was reached, but in August the season seemed rather late
to proceed northward from "Cary's Swan's Nest," and it was decided to
winter in the mouth of Churchill River.

On July 1st, 1742, the expedition proceeded northward. Most complete
observations were made of weather, land, presence of ice, natives of
the coast, depth of bay, rivers entering bay, tides, and any possible
outlets as far as 88 deg. or 89 deg. W. longitude. Observations were
continued until August 18th, when the expedition sailed home to report
what it had found.

Captain Middleton read an important paper on "The Extraordinary Degrees
and Surprising Effects of Cold in Hudson Bay," before the Royal Society
in London.

No sooner had Middleton reached the Orkneys on his return voyage than he
forwarded to Dobbs, who was in Ireland, a letter and an abstract of his
journal. Lest this should have gone astray, he sent another copy on his
arrival in the Thames. The report was, on the whole, discouraging as to
the existence of a north-west passage.

Dobbs, however, was unwilling to give up his dream, and soon began to
discredit Middleton. He dealt privately with the other officers of the
ships, Middleton's subordinates, and with surprising skill turned the
case against Captain Middleton.

The case of Dobbs against Captain Middleton has been well stated by John
Barrow. Middleton was charged with neglect in having failed to explore
the line of coast which afforded a probability of a passage to the
north-west. The principal points at issue appear to have been in respect
to the following discoveries of Middleton, viz. the Wager River, Repulse
Bay, and the Frozen Strait. As regards the first, Mr. Dobbs asserted
that the tide came through the so-called river from the westward; and
this question was settled in the following year by Captain Moore, who
entirely confirmed Captain Middleton's report.

Repulse Bay, which well deserves the name it bears, was no less
accurately laid down by Captain Middleton, and of the Frozen Strait,
Sir Edward Parry remarks, "Above all, the accuracy of Captain Middleton
is manifest upon the point most strenuously urged against him, for our
subsequent experience has not left the smallest doubt of Repulse Bay and
the northern part of Welcome Bay being filled by a rapid tide, flowing
into it from the eastward through the Frozen Strait."

Dobbs, by a high order of logic chopping, succeeded in turning the
case, for the time being, against Captain Middleton. Seldom has greater
skill been used to win a cause. He quotes with considerable effect a
letter by Sir Bibye Lake, addressed to the Governor of the Prince of
Wales Fort, Churchill River, reading: "Notwithstanding an order to you,
if Captain Middleton (who is sent ahead in the Government's service to
discover a passage north-west) should by inevitable necessity be brought
into real distress and danger of his life and loss of his ship, in such
case you are then to give him the best assistance and relief you can."
Dobbs' whole effort seems to be to show that Middleton was hiding the
truth, and this, under the influence of his old masters, the Hudson's
Bay Company. A copy of Dobbs' Criticisms, laid before the Lords of the
Admiralty, was furnished Captain Middleton, and his answer is found in
"Vindication of the Conduct," published in 1743.

"An Account of the Countries adjoining to Hudson Bay" by Arthur Dobbs,
Esq., is a book published in the year after, and is really a book
of note. A quarto, consisting of upwards of 200 pages, it showed a
marvellous knowledge of colonization in America, of the interior of the
continent at that time, and incidentally deals with Captain Middleton's
journal. Its account of the journey of "Joseph La France, a French
Canadese Indian," from Lake Superior by way of Lake Winnipeg to Hudson
Bay, is the first detailed account on record of that voyage being made.
Evidently Arthur Dobbs had caught the ear of the English people, and the
Company was compelled to put itself in a thorough attitude of defence.

Dobbs with amazing energy worked up his cause, and what a writer of
the time calls, "The long and warm dispute between Arthur Dobbs, Esq.
and Captain Middleton," gained much public notice. The glamour of
the subject of a north-west passage, going back to the exploits of
Frobisher, Baffin, and Button, touched the national fancy, and no doubt
the charge of wilful concealment of the truth made against the Hudson's
Bay Company, repeated so strenuously by Dobbs, gained him adherents.
Parliament took action in the matter and voted 20,000_l._ as a reward
for the discovery of a north-west passage. This caused another wave of
enthusiasm, and immediately a subscription was opened for the purpose of
raising 10,000_l._ to equip an expedition for this popular enterprise.
It was proposed to divide the whole into 100 shares of 100_l._ each. A
vigorous canvass was made to secure the amount, and the subscription
list bears the names of several nobles, an archbishop, a bishop, and
many esquires. A perusal of the names suggests that a number of them are
Irish, and no doubt were obtained by Mr. Dobbs, who was often at Lisburn
in Ireland. The amount raised was 7,200_l._ The expedition, we hear
afterwards, cost upwards of 10,000_l._, but the money needed was, we
are told, willingly contributed by those who undertook the enterprise.
Mr. Dobbs, as was suitable, was a leading spirit on the Committee of

Two ships were purchased by the Committee, the _Dobbs_ galley, 180 tons
burden, Captain William Moore, and the _California_, 140 tons, Captain
Francis Smith. On May 24th, 1746, the two vessels, provisioned and
well fitted out for the voyage, left the mouth of the Thames, being
in company with the two ships of the Hudson's Bay Company going to the
Bay, the four ships being under the convoy of the ship _Loo_, of forty
guns, as France was at this time at war with England. The voyage was
rather prosperous, with the exception of a very exciting incident on
board the _Dobbs_ galley. A dangerous fire broke out in the cabin of
the vessel, and threatened to reach the powder-room, which was directly
underneath, and contained "thirty or forty barrels of powder, candles,
spirits, matches, and all manner of combustibles." Though, as the writer
says, "during the excitement, you might hear all the varieties of sea
eloquence, cries, prayers, curses, and scolding, mingled together, yet
this did not prevent the proper measures being taken to save the ship
and our lives."

The story of the voyage is given to us in a very interesting manner by
Henry Ellis, gentleman, agent for the proprietors of the expedition.
Though nearly one hundred pages are taken up with the inevitable
summaries of "The Several Expeditions to discover a North-West Passage,"
yet the remaining portion of the book is well written. After the
usual struggle with the ice in Hudson Strait, as it was impossible to
explore southward during the first season, the _Dobbs_ galley and the
_California_ sailed for Port Nelson, intending to winter there. They
arrived on August 26th. Ellis states that they were badly received by
the Hudson's Bay officers at the first. They, however, laid up their
ships in Hayes River, and built an erection of logs on the shore for
the staff. The officers' winter quarters were called "Montague House,"
named after the Duke of Montague, patron of the expedition. After a
severe winter, during which the sailors suffered with scurvy, and,
according to Ellis, received little sympathy from the occupants of York
Fort, the expedition left the mouth of the Hayes River on June 24th, to
prosecute their discovery. After spending the summer coasting Hudson
Bay and taking careful notes, the officers of the vessels gladly left
the inhospitable shore to sail homeward, and the two ships arrived in
Yarmouth Roads on October 14th, 1747.

"Thus ended," says Ellis, "this voyage, without success indeed, but not
without effect; for though we did not discover a north-west passage ...
we returned with clearer and fuller proofs ... that evidently such a
passage there may be." It will be observed that Ellis very much confirms
Captain Middleton's conclusions, but Mr. Dobbs no doubt made the best of
his disappointment, and, as we shall see, soon developed what had been
from the first his real object, the plan for founding a rival company.



     "Le roi est mort"--Royalty unfavourable--Earl of
     Halifax--"Company asleep"--Petition to Parliament--Neglected
     discovery--Timidity or caution--Strong "Prince of Wales"--Increase
     of stock--A timid witness--Claims of discovery--To make
     Indians Christians--Charge of disloyalty--New Company promises
     largely--Result nil.

Arthur Dobbs, Esq., was evidently worsted in his tilt with the Hudson's
Bay Company. His fierce onslaught upon Captain Middleton was no doubt
the plan of attack to enable him to originate the expedition of the
_Dobbs_ galley and _California_. Even this voyage had brought little
better prospect of the discovery of a north-west passage, except the
optimistic words of Ellis, the use of which, indeed, seemed very like
the delectable exercise of "extracting sunbeams from cucumbers."

But the energy of the man was in no way dampened. Indeed, the
indications are, as we survey the features of the time, that he had
strong backing in the governing circles of the country. Time was when
the Hudson's Bay Company basked in the sunshine of the Court. It is,
perhaps, the penalty of old institutions that as rulers pass away and
political parties change, the centre of gravity of influence shifts.
Perhaps the Hudson's Bay Company had not been able to use the convenient
motto, "Le Roi est mort: Vive le Roi!" At any rate the strong Court
influence of the Company had passed away, and there is hardly a nobleman
to be found on the list of stockholders submitted by the Company to the
Committee of the Lords.

On the other hand, when Henry Ellis, the historian of the expedition,
writes his book in the year after his return, he is permitted to
dedicate it to His Royal Highness Frederick, Prince of Wales, is
privileged to refer in his dedication to a "gracious audience" allowed
him by the Prince after his return, and to speak of "the generous care"
expressed by the Prince "for the happy progress of his design." Again,
in a similar dedication of a book written four years afterwards by
Joseph Robson, a former employé of the Hudson's Bay Company, but a book
full of hostility to the Company, allusion is made to the fact that the
Earl of Halifax, Lord Commissioner of Trade and Plantations, gave his
most hearty approval to such plans as the expedition sought to carry
out. It is said of Lord Halifax, who was called the Father of Colonies:
"He knows the true state of the nation--that it depends on trade and
manufactures; that we have more rivals than ever; that navigation is our
bulwark and Colonies our chief support; and that new channels should be
industriously opened. Therefore, we survey the whole globe in search
of fresh inlets which our ships may enter and traffic." Those familiar
with the work of Lord Halifax will remember that the great colonization
scheme by which Nova Scotia was firmly grappled to the British Empire
and the City of Halifax founded, was his; and the charge made by Dobbs
that for a generation the "Company had slept on the shores of the Bay,"
would appeal with force to a man of such energetic and progressive
nature as the Lord Commissioner.

Accordingly, Dobbs now came out boldly; not putting the discovery of
the North-West Passage in the front of his plan, but openly charging
the Hudson's Bay Company with indolence and failure, and asking for the
granting of a charter to a rival company.

As summed up by the sub-committee to which the petition of Dobbs and his
associates was submitted, the charges were:--

I. The Company had not discovered, nor sufficiently attempted to
discover, the North-West Passage into the southern seas.

II. They had not extended their settlements to the limits given them by
their Charter.

III. They had designedly confined their trade within very narrow limits:

  (_a_) Had abused the Indians.
  (_b_) Had neglected their forts.
  (_c_) Ill-treated their own servants.
  (_d_) Encouraged the French.

The Hudson's Bay Company, now put on their mettle, exhibited a
considerable amount of activity, and filed documents before the
Committee that in some respects met the charges against them. They
claimed that they had in the thirty years preceding the investigation
done a fair amount of exploratory work and discovery. In 1719, they had
sent out the _Albany_ frigate and _Discovery_ to the northern regions,
and neither of them returned to tell the tale. In the same year its
vessels on the Bay, the _Prosperous_ and the _Success_, one from York
Factory, the other from Prince of Wales Fort, had sailed up the coast on
exploratory expeditions. Two years afterward, the _Prosperous_, under
Kelsey, made a voyage, and the _Success_, under Captain Napper, had
sailed from York Fort and was lost. In the same year the _Whalebone_,
under Captain John Scroggs, went from England to Prince of Wales Fort,
and after wintering there, in the following year made a decided effort
on behalf of the Passage, but returned unsuccessful. In the year when
Dobbs became so persistent (1737) James Napper, who had been saved from
the wreck of the _Success_ sixteen years before, took command of the
_Churchill_ from Prince of Wales Fort, but on the exploration died, and
the vessel returned. The _Musquash_, under Captain Crow, accompanied
the _Churchill_, but returned with no hope of success. This was the
case presented by the Hudson's Bay Company. It was still open to the
opponents of the Company to say, as they did, that the Hudson's Bay
Company was not in earnest, wanted nothing done to attract rivals, and
were adepts in concealing their operations and in hoodwinking the public.

A more serious charge was that they had not sought to reach the
interior, but had confined their trade to the shores of the Bay. Here
it seems that the opponents of the Company made a better case. It is
indeed unaccountable to us to-day, as we think that the Company had now
been eighty years trading on the Bay and had practically no knowledge
of the inheritance possessed by them. At this very time the French,
by way of Lake Superior, had journeyed inland, met Indian tribes,
traded with them, and even with imposing ceremonies buried metal plates
claiming the country which the Hudson's Bay Company Charter covered as
lying on rivers, lakes, &c., tributary to Hudson Bay. It is true they
had submitted instructions to the number of twenty or thirty, in which
governors and captains had been urged to explore the interior and extend
the trade among the Indian tribes. But little evidence could be offered
that these communications had been acted on.

The chief dependence of the Company seems to have been on one Henry
Kelsey, who went as a boy to Hudson Bay, but rose to be chief officer
there. The critics of the Company were not slow to state that Kelsey had
been a refugee from their forts and had lived for several seasons among
the Indians of the interior. Even if this were so, it is still true that
Kelsey came to be one of the most enterprising of the wood-runners of
the Company. Dobbs confronted them with the fact that the voyage from
Lake Superior to Hudson Bay had been only made once in their history,
and that by Joseph La France, the Canadian Indian. Certainly, whether
from timidity, caution, inertia, or from some deep-seated system of
policy, it was true that the Company had done little to penetrate the

The charge that the Company abused the Indians was hardly substantiated.
The Company was dependent on the goodwill of the Indians, and had they
treated them badly, their active rivals, the French, would simply have
reaped the benefit of their folly. That the price charged the Indians
for goods was as large as the price paid for furs was small, is quite
likely to have been true. Civilized traders all the world over, dealing
with ignorant and dependent tribes, follow this policy. No doubt the
risks of life and limb and goods in remote regions are great, and great
profits must be made to meet them. It is to be remembered, however,
that when English and French traders came into competition, as among
the Iroquois in New York State, and afterwards in the Lake Superior
district, the quality of the English goods was declared by the Indians
better and their treatment by the English on the whole more honest and
aboveboard than that by the French.

That traders should neglect their own forts seems very unlikely. Those
going to the Hudson Bay Main expected few luxuries, and certainly did
not have an easy life, but there was on the part of the Company a vast
difference in treatment as compared with that given to the fur traders
in New France as they went to the far west. No doubt pressure for
dividends prevented expenditure that was unnecessary, but a perusal of
the experience of Champlain with his French fur company leads us to
believe that the English were far the more liberal and considerate in
the treatment of employés.

The fortress of the River Churchill, known as the Prince of Wales Fort,
with its great ruins to be seen to-day, belonging to this period, speaks
of a large expense and a high ideal of what a fort ought to be. During
the examination of witnesses by the Committee, full opportunity was
given to show cases of ill-treatment of men and poor administration of
their forts. Twenty witnesses were examined, and they included captains,
merchants, and employés, many of whom had been in the service of the
Company on the Bay, but whether, as Robson says, "It must be attributed
either to their confusion upon appearing before so awful an assembly, or
to their having a dependence on the Company and an expectation of being
employed again in their service," little was elicited at all damaging to
the Company.

The charge of the fewness of the forts and the smallness of the trade
was more serious. That they should have a monopoly of the trade, and
should neither develop it themselves, nor allow others to develop it,
would have been to pursue a "dog in the manger" policy. They stated that
they had on an average three ships employed solely on their business,
that their exports for ten years immediately preceding amounted to
40,240_l._ and their imports 122,835_l._, which they claimed was a
balance of trade satisfactory to England.

The objection that the whole capital of the Company at the commencement,
10,500_l._, was trifling, was perhaps true, but they had made great
profits, and they used them in the purchase of ships and the building of
forts, and now had a much more valuable property than at the beginning.
That they had been able to increase their stock so largely was a tribute
to the profits of their business and to its ability to earn dividends on
a greatly increased capital stock.

The increase of stock as shown by the Company was as follows:--

  Original stock     £10,500
  Trebled in 1690     31,500
  Trebled in 1720     94,500

At this time there was a movement to greatly increase the stock, but the
stringency of the money market checked this movement, and subscriptions
of ten per cent. were taken, amounting to 3,150_l._ only. This was also
trebled and added to the original 94,500_l._, making a total stock of

Some three years after the investigation by the Committee, one of the
witnesses, Joseph Robson, who gave evidence of the very mildest, most
non-committal character, appears to have received new light, for he
published a book called, "An Account of Six Years' Residence in Hudson's
Bay." He says in the preface, speaking of the evidence given by him in
the investigation, "For want of confidence and ability to express myself
clearly, the account I then gave was far from being so exact and full
as that which I intended to have given." What the influence was that
so effectually opened Robson's eyes, we do not know. The second part
of this work is a critique of the evidence furnished by the Company,
and from the vigour employed by this writer as compared with the apathy
shown at the investigation, it is generally believed that in the
meantime he had become a dependent of Dobbs.

The plea put forward by the petitioners for the granting of a charter
to them contained several particulars. They had, at their own cost and
charges, fitted out two ships, the _Dobbs_ galley and _California_,
in search of the North-West Passage to the West and Southern Ocean.
Their object was, they claimed, a patriotic one, and they aimed at
extending the trade of Great Britain. They maintained that though the
reward offered had been 20,000_l._, it was not sufficient to accomplish
the end, as they had already spent more than half of that sum.
Notwithstanding this, they had discovered a number of bays, inlets,
and coasts before unknown, and inasmuch as this was the ground of the
Charter issued by Charles II. to the Hudson's Bay Company, they claimed
like consideration for performing a similar service.

The petitioners made the most ample promise as to their future should
the charter be granted. They would persevere in their search for the
passage to the Southern Ocean of America, of which, notwithstanding the
frequent failures in finding it, they had a strong hope. The forward
policy of Lord Halifax of extensive colonization they were heartily in
favour of, and they undertook to settle the lands they might discover.
The question had been raised during the investigation, whether the
Company had done anything to civilize the natives. They had certainly
done nothing. Probably their answer was that they were a trading
company, and never saw the Indians except in the months of the trading
season, when in July and August they presented themselves from the
interior at the several factories. The petitioners promised, in regard
to the natives, that they would "lay the foundation for their becoming
Christians and industrious subjects of His Majesty." Beyond the sending
out of a prayer-book from time to time, which seemed to indicate a
desire to maintain service among their servants, the Company had taken
no steps in this direction.

The closing argument for the bestowal of a charter was that they would
prevent French encroachments upon British rights and trade on the
continent of America. The petition makes the very strong statement that
the Hudson's Bay Company had connived at, or allowed French and English
to encroach, settle, and trade within their limits on the south side of
the Bay. Whatever may have been in the mind of the petitioners on this
subject of conniving with the French, a perusal of the minutes of the
Company fails to show any such disposition. The Company in Charles II.'s
times was evidently more anti-French than the Government. They disputed
the claim of the French to any part of the Bay, and strongly urged
their case before the English Commissioners at the Treaty of Ryswick.
One of their documents, seemingly showing them to be impressed with
the claim of priority of ownership of the French King, did propose a
division of the Bay, giving the south part of the Bay to the French and
the remainder to themselves. It is easy to understand a trading company
wishing peace, so that trade might go on, and knowing that Hudson Bay,
with its enormous coast line, afforded wide room for trade, proposing
such a settlement.

No doubt, however, the reference is to the great competition which was,
in a few years, to extend through the interior to the Rocky Mountains.
This was to be indeed a battle royal. Arthur Dobbs, judging by his book,
which shows how far ahead he was of his opponents in foresight, saw
that this must come, and so the new Company promises to penetrate the
interior, cut off the supply of furs from the French, and save the trade
to Britain. A quarter of a century afterwards, the Hudson's Bay Company,
slow to open their eyes, perceived it too, and as we shall see, rose
from their slumbers, and entered the conflict.

The Report was made to the Privy Council, expressing appreciation of the
petition, and of the advanced views enunciated, but stating that the
case against the Hudson's Bay Company had not yet been made out. So no
new charter was granted!



     The "Western Sea"--Ardent Duluth--"Kaministiquia"--Indian
     boasting--Père Charlevoix--Father Gonor--The man of the hour:
     Verendrye--Indian map maker--The North Shore--A line of forts--The
     Assiniboine country--A notable manuscript--A marvellous
     journey--Glory but not wealth--Post of the Western Sea.

Even the French in Canada were animated in their explorations by the
dream of a North-West Passage. The name Lachine at the rapids above
Montreal is the memorial of La Salle's hope that the Western Sea was to
be reached along this channel. The Lake Superior region seems to have
been neglected for twenty years after Radisson and Groseilliers had
visited Lake Nepigon, or Lake Assiniboines, as they called it.

But the intention of going inland from Lake Superior was not lost sight
of by the French explorers, for on a map (Parl. Lib. Ottawa) of date
1680, is the inscription in French marking the Kaministiquia or Pigeon
River, "By this river they go to the Assinepoulacs, for 150 leagues
toward the north-west, where there are plenty of beavers."

The stirring events which we have described between 1682 and 1684, when
Radisson deserted from the Hudson's Bay Company and founded for the
French King Fort Bourbon on the Bay, were accompanied by a new movement
toward Lake Superior, having the purpose of turning the stream of trade
from Hudson Bay southward to Lake Superior.

At this time Governor De La Barre writes from Canada that the English at
Hudson Bay had that year attracted to them many of the northern Indians,
who were in the habit of coming to Montreal, and that he had despatched
thither Sieur Duluth, who had great influence over the western Indians.
Greysolon Duluth was one of the most daring spirits in the service
of France in Canada. Duluth writes (1684) to the Governor from Lake
Nepigon, where he had erected a fort, seemingly near the spot where
Radisson and Groseilliers had wintered.

Duluth says in his ardent manner: "It remains for me, sir, to assure
you that all the savages of the north have great confidence in me, and
that enables me to promise you that before the lapse of two years not
a single savage will visit the English at Hudson Bay. This they have
all promised me, and have bound themselves thereto, by the presents I
have given, or caused to be given them. The Klistinos, Assinepoulacs,
&c., have promised to come to my fort.... Finally, sir, I wish to lose
my life if I do not absolutely prevent the savages from visiting the

Duluth seems for several years to have carried on trade with the Indians
north and west of Lake Nepigon, and no doubt prevented many of them from
going to Hudson Bay. But he was not well supported by the Governor,
being poorly supplied with goods, and for a time the prosecution of
trade by the French in the Lake Superior region declined. The intense
interest created by D'Iberville in his victorious raids on Hudson Bay no
doubt tended to divert the attention of the French explorers from the
trade with the interior. The Treaties of Ryswick and Utrecht changed the
whole state of affairs for the French King, and deprived by the latter
of these treaties of any hold on the Bay, the French in Canada began to
turn their attention to their deserted station on Lake Superior.

Now, too, the reviving interest in England of the scheme for the
discovery of the North-West Passage infected the French. Six years
after the Treaty of Utrecht, we find (MSS. Ottawa) it stated: "Messrs.
de Vaudreuil and Begin having written last year that the discovery of
the Western Sea would be advantageous to the Colony, it was approved
that to reach it M. de Vaudreuil should establish these posts, which he
had proposed, and he was instructed at the same time to have the same
established without any expense accruing to the King--as the person
establishing them would be remunerated by trade."

In the year 1717 the Governor sent out a French lieutenant, Sieur De
la Noue, who founded a fort at Kaministiquia. In a letter, De la Noue
states that the Indians are well satisfied with the fort he has erected,
and promise to bring there all those who had been accustomed to trade
at Hudson Bay. Circumstances seem to have prevented this explorer from
going and establishing a fort at Tekamiouen (Rainy Lake), and a third at
the lake still farther to the north-west.

It is somewhat notable that during the fifty years succeeding the early
voyages of Radisson and Groseilliers on Lake Superior, the French were
quite familiar with the names of lakes and rivers in the interior
which they had never visited. It will be remembered, however, that the
same thing is true of the English on Hudson Bay. They knew the names
Assiniboines, Christinos, and the like as familiar terms, although they
had not left the Bay.

The reason of this is easily seen. The North-West Indian is a great
narrator. He tells of large territories, vast seas, and is, in fact, in
the speech of Hiawatha, "Iagoo, the great boaster." He could map out his
route upon a piece of birch-bark, and the maps still made by the wild
North-Western Indians are quite worthy of note.

It will be observed that the objection brought by the French against
the Hudson's Bay Company of clinging to the shores of the Bay, may be
equally charged against the French on the shore of Lake Superior, or
at least of Lake Nepigon, for the period from its first occupation of
at least seventy years. No doubt the same explanation applies in both
cases, viz. the bringing of their furs to the forts by the Indians made
inland exploration at that time unnecessary.

But the time and the man had now come, and the vast prairies of the
North-West, hitherto unseen by the white man, were to become the
battle-ground for a far greater contest for the possession of the fur
trade than had yet taken place either in Hudson Bay or with the Dutch
and English in New York State.

The promoting cause for this forward movement was again the dream of
opening up a North-West Passage. The hold this had upon the French we
see was less than that upon Frobisher, James, Middleton, or Dobbs among
the English. Speaking of the French interest in the scheme, Pierre
Margry, keeper of the French Archives in Paris, says: "The prospect of
discovering by the interior a passage to the _Grand Océan_, and by that
to China, which was proposed by our officers under Henry IV., Louis
XIII., and Louis XIV., had been taken up with renewed ardour during
the Regency. Memorial upon memorial had been presented to the Conseil
de Marine respecting the advisability and the advantage of making this
discovery. Indeed, the Père de Charlevoix was sent to America, and made
his great journey from the north to the south of New France for the
purpose of reliably informing the Council as to the most suitable route
to pursue in order to reach the Western Sea. But the ardour which during
the life of Philip of Orleans animated the Government regarding the
exploration of the West became feeble, and at length threatened to be
totally extinguished, without any benefit being derived from the posts
which they had already established in the country of the Sioux and at

"The Regent, in choosing between the two plans that Father Charlevoix
presented to him at the close of his journey for the attainment of a
knowledge of the Western Sea, through an unfortunate prudence, rejected
the suggestion, which, it is true, was the most expensive and uncertain,
viz. an expedition up the Missouri to its source and beyond, and
decided to establish a post among the Sioux. The post of the Sioux was
consequently established in 1727. Father Gonor, a Jesuit missionary who
had gone upon the expedition, we are told, was, however, obliged to
return without having been able to discover anything that would satisfy
the expectations of the Court about the Western Sea."

At this time Michilimackinac was the depôt of the West. It stood in the
entrance of Lake Michigan--the Gitche Gumee of the Indian tribes, near
the mouth of the St. Mary River, the outlet of Lake Superior; it was at
the head of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay alike. Many years afterwards it
was called the "Key of the North-West" and the "Key of the Upper Lakes."
A round island lying a little above the lake, it appealed to the Indian
imagination, and, as its name implies, was likened by them to the
turtle. To it from every side expeditions gathered, and it became the
great rendezvous.

At Michilimackinac, just after the arrival of Father Gonor, there
came from the region of Lake Superior a man whose name was to become
illustrious as an explorer, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de
la Verendrye. We have come to know him simply by the single name of

This great explorer was born in Three Rivers, the son of an old officer
of the French army. The young cadet found very little to do in the
New World, and made his way home to France. He served as a French
officer in the War of the Spanish Succession, and was severely wounded
in the battle of Malplaquet. On his recovery, he did not receive the
recognition that he desired, and so went to the western wilds of Canada
and took up the life of a "coureur de bois."

Verendrye, in pursuing the fur trade, had followed the somewhat deserted
course which Radisson and Groseilliers had long before taken, and which
a decade before this La Noue had, as we have seen, selected. The fort on
Lake Nepigon was still the rendezvous of the savages from the interior,
who were willing to be turned aside from visiting the English on Hudson
Bay. From the Indians who assembled around his fort on Lake Nepigon,
in 1728, Verendrye heard of the vast interior, and had some hopes of
reaching the goal of those who dreamt of a Western Sea.

An experienced Indian leader named Ochagach undertook to map out on
birch bark the route by which the lakes of the interior could be
reached, and the savage descanted with rapture upon the furs to be
obtained if the journey could be made. Verendrye, filled with the
thought of western discovery, went to Quebec, and discussed his purpose
with the Governor there. He pointed out the route by way of the river
of the Assiniboels, and then the rivers by which Lake Ouinipegon might
be reached. His estimate was that the Western Sea might be gained by an
inland journey from Lake Superior of 500 leagues.


A daring Pioneer of New France.

(_From his statue in Montreal._)]

Governor Beauharnois considered the map submitted and the opinions of
Verendrye with his military engineer, Chaussegros De Lery; and their
conclusions were favourable to Verendrye's deductions. Verendrye
had the manner and character which inspired belief in his honesty and
competence. He was also helped in his dealings with the Governor at
Quebec by the representations of Father Gonor, whom we have seen had
returned from the fort established among the Sioux, convinced that the
other route was impracticable.

Father Gonor entirely sympathized with Verendrye in the belief that
the only hope lay in passing through the country of the Christinos
and Assiniboels of the North. The Governor granted the explorer the
privilege of the entire profit of the fur trade, but was unable to give
any assistance in money. Verendrye now obtained the aid of a number of
merchants in Montreal in providing goods and equipment for the journey,
and in high glee journeyed westward, calling at Michilimackinac to take
with him the Jesuit Father Messager, to be the companion of his voyage.
Near the end of August, 1731, the expedition was at Pigeon River, long
known as Grand Portage, a point more than forty miles south-westward of
the mouth of the Kaministiquia.

This was a notable event in history when Verendrye and his crew stood
ready to face the hardships of a journey to the interior. No doubt the
way was hard and long, and the men were sulky and discouraged, but the
heroism of their commander shone forth as he saw into the future and led
the way to a vast and important region.

Often since that time have important expeditions going to the North-West
been seen as they swept by the towering heights of Thunder Cape, and,
passing onward, entered the uninviting mouth of Kaministiquia.

Eighty-five years afterward, Lord Selkirk and his band of one hundred De
Meuron soldiers appeared here in canoes and penetrated to Red River to
regain the lost Fort Douglas.

One hundred and twenty-six years after Verendrye, according to an
account given by an eye-witness--an old Hudson's Bay Company officer--a
Canadian steamer laden high above the decks appeared at the mouth of the
Kaministiquia, bearing the Dawson and Hind expedition, to explore the
plains of Assiniboia and pave the way for their admission to Canada.

One hundred and thirty-nine years after Verendrye, Sir Garnet Wolseley,
with his British regulars and Canadian volunteers, swept through Thunder
Bay on their way to put down the Red River rebellion.

And now one hundred and sixty-nine years after Verendrye, the splendid
steamers of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company thrice a week in summer
carry their living cargo into the mouth of the Kaministiquia to be
transported by rail to the fast filling prairies of the West.

Yes! it was a great event when Verendrye and his little band of
unwilling voyageurs started inland from the shore of Lake Superior.

Verendrye, his valiant nephew, De La Jemeraye, and his two sons, were
the leaders of the expedition. Grand Portage avoids by a nine mile
portage the falls and rapids at the mouth of the Pigeon River, and
northward from this point the party went, and after many hardships
reached Rainy Lake in the first season, 1731. Here, at the head of Rainy
River, just where it leaves the Lake, they built their first fort, St.
Pierre. The writer has examined the site of this fort, just three miles
above the falls of Rainy River, and seen the mounds and excavations
still remaining. This seems to have been their furthest point reached
in the first season, and they returned to winter at Kaministiquia. In
the next year the expedition started inland, and in the month of June
reached their Fort St. Pierre, descended the Rainy River, and with
exultation saw the expanse of the Lake of the Woods.

The earliest name we find this lake known by is that given by Verendrye.
He says it was called Lake Minitie (Cree, Ministik) or Des Bois. (1) The
former of these names, Minitie, seems to be Ojibway, and to mean Lake
of the Islands, probably referring to the large number of islands to
be found in the northern half of the Lake. The other name (2), Lac des
Bois, or Lake of the Woods, would appear to have been a mistranslation
of the Indian (Ojibway) name by which the Lake was known. The name (3)
was "Pikwedina Sagaigan," meaning "the inland lake of the sand hills,"
referring to the skirting range of sand hills running for some thirteen
miles along the southern shore of the Lake to the east of the mouth of
Rainy River, its chief tributary.

Another name found on a map prepared by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1748
is (4) Lake Nimigon, probably meaning the "expanse," referring to the
open sheet of water now often called "La Traverse." Two other names,
(5) Clearwater Lake and (6) Whitefish Lake, are clearly the extension
of Clearwater Bay, a north-western part of the Lake, and Whitefish
Bay, still given by the Indians to the channel to the east of Grande

On the south-west side of the Lake of the Woods Verendrye's party built
Fort St. Charles, probably hoping then to come in touch with the Sioux
who visited that side of the lake, and with whom they would seek trade.
At this point the prospect was very remote of reaching the Western
Sea. The expenses were great, and the fur trade did not so far give
sufficient return to justify a further march to the interior. Unassisted
they had reached in 1733 Lake Ouinipegon (Winnipeg), by descending the
rapid river from Lake of the Woods, to which they gave the name of

The government in Quebec informed the French Minister, M. de Maurepas,
that they had been told by the adventurous Jemeraye that if the French
King would bear the expense, they were now certain that the Western Sea
could be reached. They had lost in going to Lake Ouinipegon not less
than 43,000 livres, and could not proceed further without aid. The reply
from the Court of France was unfavourable; nothing more than the free
privilege of the fur trade was granted the explorers.

In the following year Verendrye built a fort near Lake Ouinipegon, at
the mouth of the Maurepas River (which we now know as Winnipeg River),
and not far from the present Fort Alexander. The fort was called Fort
Maurepas, although the explorers felt that they had little for which
to thank the French Minister. Still anxious to push on further west,
but prevented by want of means, they made a second appeal to the
French Government in 1735. But again came the same reply of refusal.
The explorers spent their time trading with the Indians between Lake
Winnipeg and Grand Portage, and coming and going, as they had occasion,
to Lake Superior, and also to Michilimackinac with their cargoes.

While at Fort St. Charles, on the shores of the Lake of the Woods, in
1736, a great disaster overtook the party. Verendrye's eldest son was
very anxious to return to Kaministiquia, as was also the Jesuit priest,
Anneau, who was in company with the traders. Verendrye was unwilling,
but at last consented. The party, consisting of the younger Verendrye
and twenty men, were ruthlessly massacred by an ambush of the Sioux on
a small island some five leagues from Fort St. Charles, still known as
Massacre Island.

A few days afterwards the crime was discovered, and Verendrye had
difficulty in preventing his party from accepting the offer of the
Assiniboines and Christinos to follow the Sioux and wreak their
vengeance upon them. During the next year Fort Maurepas was still their
farthest outpost.

The ruins of Fort St. Charles on the south side of the north-west
angle of the Lake of the Woods were in 1908 discovered by St. Boniface
Historical Society and the remains of young Verendrye's party found
buried in the ruins of the chapel.

Though no assistance could be obtained from the French Court for western
discovery, and although the difficulties seemed almost insurmountable,
Verendrye was unwilling to give up the path open to him. He had the true
spirit of the explorer, and chafed in his little stockade on the shores
of Lake Winnipeg, seeking new worlds to conquer.

If it was a great event when Verendrye, in 1731, left the shores of Lake
Superior to go inland, it was one of equal moment when, penniless and in
debt, he determined at all hazards to leave the rocks and woods of Lake
Winnipeg, and seek the broad prairies of the West. His decision being
thus reached, the region which is now the fertile Canadian prairies was
entered upon.

We are fortunate in having the original journal of this notable
expedition of 1738, obtained by Mr. Douglas Brymner, former Archivist
at Ottawa. This, with two letters of Bienville, were obtained by Mr.
Brymner from a French family in Montreal, and the identity of the
documents has been fully established.

This journal covers the time from the departure of Verendrye from
Michilimackinac on July 20th, till say 1739, when he writes from the
heart of the prairies. On September 22nd the brave Verendrye left Fort
Maurepas for the land unknown. It took him but two days with his five
men to cross in swift canoes the south-east expanse of Lake Winnipeg,
enter the mouth of Red River, and reach the forks of the Red and
Assiniboine Rivers, where the city of Winnipeg now stands.

It was thus on September 24th of that memorable year that the eyes of
the white man first fell on the site of what is destined to be the great
central city of Canada. A few Crees who expected him met the French
explorer there, and he had a conference with two chiefs, who were in the
habit of taking their furs to the English on Hudson Bay.

The water of the Assiniboine River ran at this time very low, but
Verendrye was anxious to push westward. Delayed by the shallowness of
the Assiniboine, the explorer's progress was very slow, but in six days
he reached the portage, then used to cross to Lake Manitoba on the route
to Hudson Bay. On this portage now stands the town of Portage la Prairie.

The Assiniboine Indians who met Verendrye here told him it would be
useless for him to ascend the Assiniboine River further, as the water
was so low. Verendrye was expecting a reinforcement to join his party,
under his colleague, M. de la Marque. He determined to remain at Portage
la Prairie and to build a fort. Verendrye then assembled the Indians,
gave them presents of powder, ball, tobacco, axes, knives, &c., and in
the name of the French King received them as the children of the great
monarch across the sea, and repeated several times to them the orders of
the King they were to obey.

It is very interesting to notice the skill with which the early French
explorers dealt with the Indians, and to see the formal way in which
they took possession of the lands visited. Verendrye states that the
Indians were greatly impressed, "many with tears in their eyes." He adds
with some _naïveté_, "They thanked me greatly, promising to do wonders."

On October 3rd, Verendrye decided to build a fort. He was joined shortly
after by Messrs. de la Marque and Nolant with eight men in two canoes.
The fort was soon pushed on, and, with the help of the Indians, was
finished by October 15th. This was the beginning of Fort de la Reine.
At this stage in his journal Verendrye makes an important announcement,
bearing on a subject which has been somewhat discussed.

Verendrye says, "M. de la Marque told me he had brought M. de Louvière
to the forks with two canoes to build a fort there for the accommodation
of the people of the Red River. I approved of it if the Indians were
notified." This settles the fact that there was a fort at the forks of
the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, and that it was built in 1738.

In the absence of this information, we have been in the habit of fixing
the building of Fort Rouge at this point from 1735 to 1737. There can
now be no doubt that October, 1738, is the correct date. From French
maps, as has been pointed out, Fort Rouge stood at the mouth of the
Assiniboine, on the south side of the river, and the portion of the city
of Winnipeg called Fort Rouge is properly named.

It is, of course, evident that the forts erected by these early
explorers were simply winter stations, thrown up in great haste.

Verendrye and his band of fifty-two persons, Frenchmen and Indians, set
out overland by the Mandan road on October 18th, to reach the Mandan
settlements of the Missouri. It is not a part of our work to describe
that journey. Suffice it to say that on December 3rd he was at the
central fort of the Mandans, 250 miles from his fort at Portage la

Being unable to induce his Assiniboine guides and interpreters to
remain for the winter among the Mandans, Verendrye returned somewhat
unwillingly to the Assiniboine River. He arrived on February 10th at his
Fort de la Reine, as he says himself, "greatly fatigued and very ill."

Verendrye in his journal gives us an excellent opportunity of seeing
the thorough devotion of the man to his duty. From Fort Michilimackinac
to the Missouri, by the route followed by him, is not less than 1,200
miles, and this he accomplished, as we have seen with the necessary
delay of building a fort, between July 20th and December 3rd--136
days--of this wonderful year of 1738.

Struggling with difficulties, satisfying creditors, hoping for
assistance from France, but ever patriotic and single-minded, Verendrye
became the leading spirit in Western exploration. In the year after his
great expedition to the prairies, he was summoned to Montreal to resist
a lawsuit brought against him. The prevailing sin of French Canada was
jealousy. Though Verendrye had struggled so bravely to explore the
country, there were those who whispered in the ear of the Minister of
the French Court that he was selfish and unworthy. In his heart-broken
reply to the charges, he says, "If more than 40,000 livres of debt which
I have on my shoulders are an advantage, then I can flatter myself that
I am very rich."

In 1741 a fruitless attempt was made to reach the Mandans, but in the
following year Verendrye's eldest surviving son and his brother, known
as the Chevalier, having with them only two Canadians, left Forte de la
Reine, and made in this and the succeeding year one of the most famous
of the Verendrye discoveries. This lies beyond the field of our inquiry,
being the journey to the Missouri, and up to an eastern spur of the
Rocky Mountains. Parkman, in his "A Half Century of Conflict," has given
a detailed account of this remarkable journey.

Going northward over the Portage la Prairie, Verendrye's sons had
discovered what is now known as Lake Manitoba, and had reached the
Saskatchewan River. On the west side of Lake Manitoba they founded
Fort Dauphin, while at the west end of the enlargement of the
Saskatchewan known as Cedar Lake, they built Fort Bourbon and ascended
the Saskatchewan to the forks, which were known as the Poskoiac. Tardy
recognition of Verendrye's achievements came from the French Court in
the explorer being promoted to the position of captain in the Colonial
troops, and a short time after he was given the Cross of the Order of
St. Louis. Beauharnois and his successor Galissionière had both stood
by Verendrye and done their best for him. Indeed, the explorer was just
about to proceed on the great expedition which was to fulfil their hopes
of finding the Western Sea, when, on December 6th, he passed away, his
dream unrealized. He was an unselfish soul, a man of great executive
ability, and one who dearly loved his King and country. He stands out in
striking contrast to the Bigots and Jonquières, who disgraced the name
of France in the New World.

From the hands of these vampires, who had come to suck out the blood of
New France, Verendrye's sons received no consideration. Their claims
were coolly passed by, their goods shamelessly seized, and their
written and forcible remonstrance made no impression. Legardeur de St.
Pierre, more to the mind of the selfish Bigot, was given their place
and property, and in 1751 a small fort was built on the upper waters
of the Saskatchewan, near the Rocky Mountains, near where the town of
Calgary now stands. This was called in honour of the Governor, Fort La
Jonquière. A year afterward, St. Pierre, with his little garrison of
five men, disgusted with the country, deserted Fort La Reine, which, a
few weeks after, was burned to the ground by the Assiniboines.

The fur trade was continued by the French in much the same bounds, so
long as the country remained in the hands of France.

We are fortunate in having an account of these affairs given in De
Bougainville's Memoir, two years before the capture of Canada by Wolfe.
The forts built by Verendrye's successors were included under the "Post
of the Western Sea" (La Mer de l'Ouest). Bougainville says, "The Post of
the Western Sea is the most advanced toward the north; it is situated
amidst many Indian tribes, with whom we trade and who have intercourse
with the English, toward Hudson Bay. We have there several forts built
of stockades, trusted generally to the care of one or two officers,
seven or eight soldiers, and eighty _engagés Canadiens_. We can push
further the discoveries we have made in that country, and communicate
even with California."

This would have realized the dream of Verendrye of reaching the Western

"The Post of La Mer de l'Ouest includes the forts of St. Pierre, St.
Charles, Bourbon, De la Reine, Dauphin, Poskoiac, and Des Prairies (De
la Jonquière), all of which are built with palisades that can give
protection only against the Indians."

"The post of La Mer de l'Ouest merits special attention for two reasons:
the first, that it is the nearest to the establishments of the English
on Hudson Bay, and from which their movements can be watched; the
second, that from this post, the discovery of the Western Sea may be
accomplished; but to make this discovery it will be necessary that the
travellers give up all view of personal interest."

Two years later, French power in North America came to an end, and a
generation afterward, the Western Sea was discovered by British fur



     Unyielding old Cadot--Competition--The enterprising
     Henry--Leads the way--Thomas Curry--The older Finlay--Plundering
     Indians--"Grand Portage"--A famous mart--The plucky Frobishers--The
     Sleeping Giant aroused--Fort Cumberland--Churchill River--Indian
     rising--The deadly smallpox--The whites saved.

The capture of Canada by General Wolfe in 1759 completely changed the
course of affairs in the Western fur country. Michilimackinac and Sault
Ste. Marie had become considerable trading centres under the French
_régime_, but the officers and men had almost entirely been withdrawn
from the outposts in the death struggle for the defence of Quebec and

The conquest of Canada was announced with sorrow by the chief captain of
the West, Charles de Langlade, on his return after the capitulation of
Montreal. The French Canadians who had taken Indian wives still clung to
the fur country. These French half-breed settlements at Michilimackinac
and neighbouring posts were of some size, but beyond Lake Superior,
except a straggler here and there, nothing French was left behind. The
forts of the western post fell into decay, and were in most cases burnt
by the Indians. Not an army officer, not a priest, not a fur trader,
remained beyond Kaministiquia.

The French of Michilimackinac region were for a time unwilling to accept
British rule. Old trader, Jean Baptiste Cadot, who had settled with his
Indian wife, Anastasie, at Sault Ste. Marie, and become a man of wide
influence, for years refused to yield, and a French Canadian author
says: "So the French flag continued to float over the fort of Sault Ste.
Marie long after the _fleur-de-lis_ had quitted for ever the ramparts
of Quebec. Under the shadow of the old colours, so fruitful of tender
memories, he was able to believe himself still under the protection of
the mother-country." However, Cadot ended by accepting the situation,
and an author tells us that like Cadot, "were the La Cornes, the
Langlades, the Beaujeus, the Babys, and many others who, after fighting
like lions against England, were counted a little later among the number
of her most gallant defenders." For several years, however, the fur
trade was not carried on.

The change of flag in Canada brought a number of enterprising spirits as
settlers to Quebec and Montreal. The Highland regiments under Generals
Amherst and Wolfe had seen Montreal and Quebec. A number of the military
became settlers. The suppression of the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland
in 1745 had led to the dispersion of many young men of family beyond
the seas. Some of these drifted to Montreal. Many of the Scottish
settlements of the United States had remained loyal, so that after the
American Revolution parties of these loyalists came to Montreal. Thus in
a way hard to explain satisfactorily, the English-speaking merchants who
came to Canada were largely Scottish. In a Government report found in
the Haldimand papers in 1784, it is stated that "The greater part of the
inhabitants of Montreal (no doubt meaning English-speaking inhabitants)
are Presbyterians of the Church of Scotland." It was these Scottish
merchants of Montreal who revived the fur trade to the interior.

Washington Irving, speaking of these merchants, says, "Most of the
clerks were young men of good families from the Highlands of Scotland,
characterized by the perseverance, thrift, and fidelity of their
country." He refers to their feasts "making the rafters resound with
bursts of loyalty and old Scottish songs."

The late Archbishop Taché, a French Canadian long known in the
North-West, speaking of this period says, "Companies called English, but
generally composed of Scotchmen, were found in Canada to continue to
make the most of the rich furs of the forests of the North. Necessity
obliged them at first to accept the co-operation of the French
Canadians, who maintained their influence by the share they took in the
working of these companies.... This circumstance explains how, after
the Scotch, the French Canadian element is the most important."

The first among these Scottish merchants to hie away from Montreal to
the far West was Alexander Henry, whose "Travels and Adventures in
Canada and the Indian Territories between the years 1760 and 1766" have
the charm of narrative of an Irving or a Parkman. He knew nothing of the
fur trade, but he took with him an experienced French Canadian, named
Campion. He appeared at Michilimackinac two years after the conquest
by Wolfe, and in the following year visited Sault Ste. Marie with its
stockaded fort, and formed a friendship with trader Cadot. In the
following year, Henry was a witness of the massacre at Michilimackinac,
so graphically described by Parkman in his "Conspiracy of Pontiac."
Henry's account of his own escape is a thrilling tale.

In 1765 Henry obtained from the Commandant at Michilimackinac licence
of the exclusive trade of Lake Superior. He purchased the freight of
four canoes, which he took at the price of 10,000 good, merchantable
beavers. With his crew of twelve men, and supplies of fifty bushels
of prepared Indian corn, he reached a band of Indians on the Lake who
were in poverty, but who took his supplies on trust, and went off to
hunt beaver. In due time the Indians returned, and paid up promptly
and fully the loans made to them. By 1768 he had succeeded in opening
up the desired route of French traders, going from Michilimackinac to
Kaministiquia on Lake Superior and returning. His later journeys we may
notice afterwards.

Of the other merchants who followed Henry in reviving the old route,
the first to make a notable adventure was the Scotchman Thomas Curry.
Procuring the requisite band of voyageurs and interpreters, in 1766
he pushed through with four canoes, along Verendrye's route, even to
the site of the old French Fort Bourbon, on the west of Cedar Lake, on
the lower Saskatchewan River. Curry had in his movement something of
the spirit of Verendrye, and his season's trip was so successful that,
according to Sir Alexander Mackenzie, his fine furs gave so handsome
a return that "he was satisfied never again to return to the Indian

[Illustration: JUNCTION OF THE OTTAWA AND ST. LAWRENCE (near Cedars).]

Another valorous Scotchman, James Finlay, of Montreal, took up the
paddle that Curry had laid down, and in 1768, with a force equal to that
of Curry, passed into the interior and ascended the Saskatchewan to
Nipawi, the farthest point which Verendrye had reached. He was rewarded
with a generous return for his venture.

But while these journeys had been successful, it would seem that
the turbulent state of the Indian tribes had made other expeditions
disastrous. In a memorial sent by the fur traders a few years later
to the Canadian Government, it is stated that in a venture made from
Michilimackinac in 1765 the Indians of Rainy Lake had plundered
the traders of their goods, that in the next year a similar revolt
followed, that in the following year the traders were compelled to
leave a certain portion of their goods at Rainy Lake to be allowed to
go on to Lake Ouinipique. It is stated that the brothers, Benjamin and
James Frobisher, of Montreal, who became so celebrated as fur traders,
began a post ten years after the conquest. These two merchants were
Englishmen. They speedily took the lead in pushing forward far into
the interior, and were the most practical of the fur traders in making
alliances and in dealing successfully with the Indians. In their first
expedition they had the same experience in their goods being seized by
the thievish Indians of Rainy Lake; but before they could send back
word the goods for the next venture had reached Grand Portage on Lake
Superior, and they were compelled to try the route to the West again.
On this occasion they managed to defy the pillaging bands, and reached
Fort Bourbon on the Saskatchewan. They now discovered that co-operation
and a considerable show of force was the only method of carrying on a
safe trade among the various tribes. It was fortunate for the Montreal
traders that such courageous leaders as the Frobishers had undertaken
the trade.

The trade to the North-West thus received a marvellous development at
the hands of the Montreal merchants. Nepigon and the Kaministiquia,
which had been such important points in the French _régime_, had been
quite forgotten, and Grand Portage was now the place of greatest
interest, and so continued to the end of the century.

It is with peculiar interest a visitor to-day makes his way to
Grand Portage. The writer, after a difficult night voyage over the
stormy waters of Lake Superior, rowed by the keeper of a neighbouring
lighthouse, made a visit a few years ago to this spot. Grand Portage
ends on a bay of Lake Superior. It is partially sheltered by a rocky
island which has the appearance of a robber's keep, but has one
inhabitant, the only white man of the region, a French Canadian of very
fair means. On the bay is to-day an Indian village, chiefly celebrated
for its multitude of dogs. A few traces of the former greatness of
the place may be seen in the timbers down in the water of the former
wharves, which were extensive. Few traces of forts are now, a century
after their desertion by the fur traders, to be seen.

The portage, consisting of a road fairly made for the nine or ten miles
necessary to avoid the falls on Pigeon River, can still be followed. No
horse or ox is now to be found in the whole district, where at one time
the traders used this means of lightening the burden of packing over the
portage. The solitary road, as the traveller walks along it, with weeds
and grasses grown up, brings to one a melancholy feeling. The bustle of
voyageur and trader and Indian is no more; and the reflection made by
Irving comes back, "The lords of the lakes and forests have passed away."

And yet Grand Portage was at the time of which we are writing a place
of vast importance. Here there were employed as early as 1783, by the
several merchants from Montreal, 500 men. One half of these came from
Montreal to Grand Portage in canoes of four tons burden, each managed
by from eight to ten men. As these were regarded as having the least
romantic portion of the route, meeting with no Indians, and living
on cured rations, they were called the "mangeurs de lard," or pork
eaters. The other half of the force journeyed inland from Grand Portage
in canoes, each carrying about a ton and a half. Living on game and
the dried meat of the buffalo, known as pemmican, these were a more
independent and daring body. They were called the "coureurs de bois."

For fifteen days after August 15th these wood-runners portaged over
the nine or ten miles their burdens. Men carrying 150 lbs. each way
have been known to make the portage and return in six hours. When the
canoes were loaded at the west end of the portage with two-thirds
goods and one-third provisions, then the hurry of the season came, and
supplies for Lake Winnipeg, the Saskatchewan, and far distant Athabasca
were hastened on apace. The difficulties of the route were at many a
décharge, where only the goods needed to be removed and the canoes
taken over the rapids, or at the portage, where both canoes and load
were carried past dangerous falls and fierce rapids. The dash, energy,
and skill that characterized these mixed companies of Scottish traders,
French voyageurs, half-breed and Indian _engagés_, have been well
spoken of by all observers, and appeal strongly to the lovers of the
picturesque and heroic.


A quarter of a century after the conquest we have a note of alarm at the
new competition that the Company from Hudson Bay had at last undertaken.
In the Memorial before us it is stated that disturbance of trade is
made by "New Adventurers." It is with a smile we read of the daring and
strong-handed traders of Montreal saying, "Those adventurers (evidently
H. B. Co.), consulting their own interests only, without the least
regard to the management of the natives or the general welfare of the
trade, soon occasioned such disorders, &c.... Since that time business
is carried on with great disadvantages."

This reference, so prosaically introduced, is really one of enormous
moment in our story. The Frobishers, with their keen business instincts
and daring plans, saw that the real stroke which would lead them on
to fortune was to divert the stream of trade then going to Hudson Bay
southward to Lake Superior. Accordingly, with a further aggressive
movement in view, Joseph Frobisher established a post on Sturgeon Lake,
an enlargement of the Saskatchewan, near the point known by the early
French as Poskoiac.

A glance at the map will show how well chosen Sturgeon Lake Fort was.
Northward from it a watercourse could be readily followed, by which the
main line of water communication from the great northern districts to
Hudson Bay could be reached and the Northern Indians be interrupted in
their annual pilgrimage to the Bay. But, as we shall afterward see, the
sleeping giant of the Bay had been awakened and was about to stretch
forth his arms to grasp the trade of the interior with a new vigour.
Two years after Frobisher had thrown down the pledge of battle, it was
taken up by the arrival of Samuel Hearne, an officer of the Hudson's Bay
Company, and by his founding Fort Cumberland on Sturgeon Lake, about two
miles below Frobisher's Fort. Hearne returned to the Bay, leaving his
new fort garrisoned by a number of Orkney men under an English officer.

During the same year an explorer, on behalf of the Hudson's Bay Company,
visited Red River, but no fort was built there for some time afterward.
The building of Fort Cumberland led to a consolidation on the part of
the Montreal merchants. In the next year after its building, Alexander
Henry, the brothers Frobisher, trader Cadot, and a daring trader named
Pond, gathered at Sturgeon Lake, and laid their plans for striking a
blow in retaliation, as they regarded it, for the disturbance of trade
made by the Hudson's Bay Company in penetrating to the interior from the

Cadot, with four canoes, went west to the Saskatchewan; Pond, with two,
to the country on Lake Dauphin; and Henry and the Frobisher brothers,
with their ten canoes and upwards of forty men, hastened northward to
carry out the project of turning anew the Northern Indians from their
usual visit to the Bay. On the way to the Churchill River they built a
fort on Beaver Lake. In the following year, a strong party went north to
Churchill or English River, as Joseph Frobisher now called it. When it
was reached they turned westward and ascended the Churchill, returning
at Serpent's Rapid, but sending Thomas Frobisher with goods on to Lake

From the energy displayed, and the skill shown in seizing the main
points in the country, it will be seen that the Montreal merchants were
not lacking in ability to plan and decision to execute. The two great
forces have now met, and for fifty years a battle royal will be fought
for the rivers, rocks, and plains of the North Country. At present it is
our duty to follow somewhat further the merchants of Montreal in their
agencies in the North-West.

There can be no doubt that the competition between the two companies
produced disorder and confusion among the Indian tribes. The Indian
nature is excitable and suspicious. Rival traders for their own ends
played upon the fears and cupidity alike of the simple children of the
woods and prairies. They represented their opponents in both cases as
unreliable and grasping, and party spirit unknown before showed itself
in most violent forms. The feeling against the whites of both parties
was aroused by injustices, in some cases fancied, in others real. The
Assiniboines, really the northern branch of the fierce Sioux of the
prairies, were first to seize the tomahawk. They attacked Poplar Fort on
the Assiniboine. After some loss of life, Bruce and Boyer, who were in
charge of the fort, decided to desert it. Numerous other attacks were
made on the traders' forts, and it looked as if the prairies would be
the scene of a general Indian war.

The only thing that seems to have prevented so dire a disaster was the
appearance of what is ever a dreadful enemy to the poor Indian, the
scourge of smallpox. The Assiniboines had gone on a war expedition
against the Mandans of the Missouri River, and had carried back the
smallpox infection which prevailed among the Mandan lodges. This
disease spread over the whole country, and several bands of Indians
were completely blotted out. Of one tribe of four hundred lodges, only
ten persons remained; the poor survivors, in seeking succour from other
bands, carried the disease with them. At the end of 1782 there were
only twelve traders who had persevered in their trade on account of
the discouragements, but the whole trade was for two or three seasons
brought to an end by this disease.

The decimation of the tribes, the fear of infection by the traders, and
the general awe cast over the country turned the thoughts of the natives
away from war, and as Masson says, "the whites had thus escaped the
danger which threatened them."

Two or three years after the scourge, the merchants of Montreal revived
the trade, and, as we shall see, made a combination which, in the
thoroughness of its discipline, the energy of its operations, the
courage of its promoters, and the scope of its trade, has perhaps never
been equalled in the history of trading companies.



     Samuel Hearne--"The Mungo Park of Canada"--Perouse
     complains--The North-West Passage--Indian guides--Two
     failures--Third journey successful--Smokes the calumet--Discovers
     Arctic Ocean--Cruelty to the Eskimos--Error in latitude--Remarkable
     Indian woman--Capture of Prince of Wales Fort--Criticism by

Such an agitation as that so skilfully planned and shrewdly carried on
by Arthur Dobbs, Esq., could not but affect the action of the Hudson's
Bay Company. The most serious charge brought against the Company was
that, while having a monopoly of the trade on Hudson Bay, it had taken
no steps to penetrate the country and develop its resources. It is of
course evident that the Company itself could have no reason for refusing
to open up trade with the interior, for by this means it would be
expanding its operations and increasing its profits. The real reason
for its not doing so seems to have been the inertia, not to say fear,
of Hudson's Bay Company agents on the Bay who failed to mingle with the
bands of Indians in the interior.

Now the man was found who was to be equal to the occasion. This was
Samuel Hearne. Except occasional reference to him in the minutes of
the Company and works of the period, we know little of Samuel Hearne.
He was one of the class of men to which belonged Norton, Kelsey, and
others--men who had grown up in the service of the Company on the Bay,
and had become, in the course of years, accustomed to the climate,
condition of life, and haunts of the Indians, thus being fitted for
active work for the Company.

Samuel Hearne became so celebrated in his inland expeditions, that
the credit of the Hudson's Bay Company leaving the coast and venturing
into the interior has always been attached to his name. So greatly,
especially in the English mind, have his explorations bulked, that
the author of a book of travels in Canada about the beginning of this
century called him the "Mungo Park of Canada." In his "Journey," we
have an account of his earlier voyages to the interior in search of the
Coppermine River. This book has a somewhat notable history.

In the four-volume work of La Perouse, the French navigator, it is
stated that when he took Prince of Wales Fort on the Churchill River in
1782, Hearne, as governor of the fort, surrendered it to him, and that
the manuscript of his "Journey" was seized by the French commander. It
was returned to Hearne on condition that it should be published, but the
publication did not take place until thirteen years afterwards. It is
somewhat amusing to read in Perouse's preface (1791) the complaint that
Hearne had not kept faith with him in regard to publishing the journal,
and the hope is expressed that this public statement in reminding him of
his promise would have the desired effect of the journal being published.

Four years afterwards Hearne's "Journey" appeared. A reference to this
fine quarto work, which is well illustrated, brings us back in the
introduction to all the controversies embodied in the work of Dobbs,
Ellis, Robson, and the "American Traveller."

Hearne's orders were received from the Hudson's Bay Company, in 1769, to
go on a land expedition to the interior of the continent, from the mouth
of the Churchill as far as 70 deg. N. lat., to smoke the calumet of
peace with the Indians, to take accurate astronomical observations, to
go with guides to the Athabasca country, and thence northward to a river
abounding with copper ore and "animals of the fur kind," &c.

It is very noticeable, also, that his instructions distinctly tell him
"to clear up the point, if possible, in order to prevent further doubt
from arising hereafter respecting a passage out of Hudson Bay into
the Western Ocean, as hath lately been represented by the 'American
Traveller.'" The instructions made it plain that it was the agitation
still continuing from the days of Dobbs which led to the sending of
Hearne to the north country.

Hearne's first expedition was made during the last months of the year
1769. It is peculiarly instructive in the fact that it failed to
accomplish anything, as it gives us a glimpse of the difficulties which
no doubt so long prevented the movement to the interior. In the first
place, the bitterly severe months of November and December were badly
chosen for the time of the expedition. On the sixth day of the former
of these months Hearne left Prince of Wales Fort, taking leave of the
Governor, and being sent off with a salute of seven guns. His guide was
an Indian chief, Chawchinahaw. Hearne ascertained very soon, what others
have found among the Indians, that his guide was not to be trusted; he
"often painted the difficulties in the worst colours" and took every
method to dishearten the explorer. Three weeks after starting, a number
of the Indians deserted Hearne.

Shortly after this mishap, Chawchinahaw and his company ruthlessly
deserted the expedition, and two hundred miles from the fort set out
on another route, "making the woods ring with their laughter." Meeting
other Indians, Hearne purchased venison, but was cheated, while his
Indian guide was feasted. The explorer remarks:--"A sufficient proof
of the singular advantage which a native of this country has over an
Englishman, when at such a distance from the Company's factories as to
depend entirely on them for subsistence."

Hearne arrived at the fort after an absence of thirty-seven days, as
he says, "to my own mortification and the no small surprise of the
Governor." Hearne was simply illustrating what has been shown a hundred
times since, in all foreign regions, viz., native peoples are quick to
see the inexperience of men raw to the country, and will heartlessly
maltreat and deceive them. However, British officers and men in all
parts of the world become at length accustomed to dealing with savage
peoples, and after some experience, none have ever equalled British
agents and explorers in the management and direction of such peoples.

Early in the following year Hearne plucked up courage for another
expedition. On this occasion he determined to take no Europeans, but to
trust to Indians alone. On February 23rd, accompanied by five Indians,
Hearne started on his second journey. Following the advice of the
Governor, the party took no Indian women with them, though Hearne states
that this was a mistake, as they were "needed for hauling the baggage
as well as for dressing skins for clothing, pitching our tent, getting
firing, &c." During the first part of the journey deer were plentiful,
and the fish obtained by cutting holes in the ice of the lakes were

Hearne spent the time of the necessary delays caused by the obtaining
of fish and game in taking observations, keeping his journal and
chart, and doing his share of trapping. Meeting, as soon as the spring
opened, bands of Indians going on various errands, the explorer started
overland. He carried sixty pounds of burden, consisting of quadrant,
books and papers, compass, wearing apparel, weapons and presents for the
natives. The traveller often made twenty miles a day over the rugged

Meeting a chief of the Northern Indians going in July to Prince of Wales
Fort, Hearne sent by him for ammunition and supplies. A canoe being now
necessary, Hearne purchased this of the Indians. It was obtained by the
exchange of a single knife, the full value of which did not exceed a
penny. In the middle of this month the party saw bands of musk oxen.
A number of these were killed and their flesh made into pemmican for
future use. Finding it impossible to reach the Coppermine during the
season, Hearne determined to live with the Indians for the winter.

The explorer was a good deal disturbed by having to give presents to
Indians who met him. Some of them wanted guns, all wanted ammunition,
iron-work, and tobacco; many were solicitous for medicine; and others
pressed for different articles of clothing. He thought the Indians very
inconsiderate in their demands.

On August 11th the explorer had the misfortune to lose his quadrant
by its being blown open and broken by the wind. Shortly after this
disaster, Hearne was plundered by a number of Indians who joined him.

He determined to return to the fort. Suffering from the want of food
and clothing, Hearne was overtaken by a famous chief, Matonabbee, who
was going eastward to Prince of Wales Fort. The chief had lived several
years at the fort, and was one who knew the Coppermine. Matonabbee
discussed the reasons of Hearne's failure in his two expeditions. The
forest philosopher gave as the reason of these failures the misconduct
of the guides and the failure to take any women on the journey. After
maintaining that women were made for labour, and speaking of their
assistance, said Matonabbee, "women, though they do everything, are
maintained at a trifling expense, for as they always stand cook, the
very licking of their fingers in scarce times is sufficient for their
subsistence." Plainly, the northern chief had need of the ameliorating
influence of modern reformers. In company with the chief, Hearne
returned to the fort, reaching it after an absence of eight months and
twenty-two days, having, as he says, had "a fruitless or at least an
unsuccessful journey."

Hearne, though beaten twice, was determined to try a third time and win.
He recommended the employment of Matonabbee as a guide of intelligence
and experience. Governor Norton wished to send some of the coast Indians
with Hearne, but the latter refused them, and incurred the ill-will
of the Governor. Hearne's instructions on this third journey were "in
quest of a North-West Passage, copper-mines, or any other thing that may
be serviceable to the British nation in general, or the Hudson's Bay
Company in particular." The explorer was now furnished with an Elton's

This third journey was begun on December 7th, 1770. Travelling sometimes
for three or four days without food, they were annoyed, when supplies
were secured, by the chief Matonabbee taking so ill from over-eating
that he had to be drawn upon a sledge. Without more than the usual
incidents of Indian travelling, the party pushed on till a point some
19 deg. west of Churchill was reached, according to the calculations of
the explorer. It is to be noted, however, that Hearne's observations,
measurements, and maps, do not seem to be at all accurate.

Turning northward, as far as can be now made out, about the spot where
the North-West traders first appeared on their way to the Churchill
River, Hearne went north to his destination. His Indian guides now
formed a large war party from the resident Indians, to meet the Eskimos
of the river to which they were going and to conquer them.

The explorer announces that having left behind "all the women, children,
dogs, heavy baggage, and other encumbrances," on June 1st, 1771, they
pursued their journey northward with great speed. On June 21st the sun
did not set at all, which Hearne took to be proof that they had reached
the Arctic Circle. Next day they met the Copper Indians, who welcomed
them on hearing the object of their visit.

Hearne, according to orders, smoked the calumet of peace with the Copper
Indians. These Indians had never before seen a white man. Hearne was
considered a great curiosity. Pushing on upon their long journey, the
explorers reached the Coppermine River on July 13th. Hearne was the
witness of a cruel massacre of the Eskimos by his Indian allies, and the
seizure of their copper utensils and other provisions, and expresses
disgust at the enormity of the affair. The mouth of the river, which
flows into the Arctic Ocean, was soon reached on July 18th, and the tide
found to rise about fourteen feet.

Hearne seems in the narrative rather uncertain about the latitude of the
mouth of the Coppermine River, but states that after some consultation
with the Indians, he erected a mark, and took possession of the coast on
behalf of the Hudson's Bay Company.

In Hearne's map, dated July, 1771, and purporting to be a plan of the
Coppermine, the mouth of the river is about 71 deg. 54´ N. This was a
great mistake, as the mouth of the river is somewhere near 68 deg. N.
So great a mistake was certainly unpardonable. Hearne's apology was
that after the breaking of his quadrant on the second expedition, the
instrument which he used was an old Elton's quadrant, which had been
knocking about the Prince of Wales Fort for nearly thirty years.

Having examined the resources of the river and heard of the mines from
which the Copper Indians obtained all the metal for the manufacture of
hatchets, chisels, knives, &c., Hearne started southward on his return
journey on July 18th. Instead of coming by the direct route, he went
with the Indians of his party to the north side of Lake Athabasca on
December 24th. Having crossed the lake, as illustrating the loneliness
of the region, the party found a woman who had escaped from an Indian
band which had taken her prisoner, and who had not seen a human face
for seven months, and had lived by snaring partridges, rabbits, and
squirrels. Her skill in maintaining herself in lonely wilds was truly
wonderful. She became the wife of one of the Indians of Hearne's party.
In the middle of March, 1772, Hearne was delivered a letter, brought to
him from Prince of Wales Fort and dated in the preceding June. Pushing
eastward, after a number of adventures, Hearne reached Prince of Wales
Fort on June 30th, 1772, having been absent on his third voyage eighteen
months and twenty-three days. Hearne rejoices that he had at length put
an end to the disputes concerning a North-West Passage through Hudson
Bay. The fact, however, that during the nineteenth century this became
again a living question shows that in this he was mistaken.

The perseverance and pluck of Hearne have impressed all those who have
read his narrative. He was plainly one of the men possessing the subtle
power of impressing the Indian mind. His disasters would have deterred
many men from following up so difficult and extensive a route. To him
the Hudson's Bay Company owes a debt of gratitude. That debt consists
not in the discovery of the Coppermine, but in the attitude presented to
the Northern Indians from the Bay all the way to Lake Athabasca. Hearne
does not mention the Montreal fur traders, who, in the very year of his
return, reached the Saskatchewan and were stationed at the Churchill
River down which he passed.

First of white men to reach Athapuscow, now thought to have been Great
Slave Lake, Samuel Hearne claimed for his Company priority of trade,
and answered the calumnies that his Company was lacking in energy
and enterprise. He took what may be called "seizen" of the soil for
the English traders. We shall speak again of his part in leading the
movement inland to oppose the Nor'-Westers in the interior. His services
to the Hudson's Bay Company received recognition in his promotion,
three years after his return home from his third voyage, to the
governorship of the Prince of Wales Fort. To Hearne has been largely
given the credit of the new and adventurous policy of the Hudson's Bay

Hearne does not, however, disappear from public notice on his promotion
to the command of Prince of Wales Fort. When war broke out a few years
later between England and France, the latter country, remembering her
old successes under D'Iberville on Hudson Bay, sent a naval expedition
to attack the forts on the Bay. Umfreville gives an account of the
attack on Prince of Wales Fort on August 8th and 9th, 1772. Admiral
de la Perouse was in command of these war vessels, his flagship being
_Le Sceptre_, of seventy-four guns. The garrison was thought to be
well provided for a siege, and La Perouse evidently expected to have a
severe contest. However, as he approached the fort, there seemed to be
no preparations made for defence, and, on the summons to surrender, the
gates were immediately thrown open.

[Illustration: PRINCE OF WALES FORT.]

Umfreville, who was in the garrison and was taken prisoner on this
occasion, speaks of the conduct of the Governor as being very
reprehensible, but severely criticizes the Company for its neglect. He
says:--"The strength of the fort itself was such as would have resisted
the attack of a more considerable force; it was built of the strongest
materials, the walls were of great thickness and very durable (it was
planned by the ingenious Mr. Robson, who went out in 1742 for that
purpose), it having been forty years in building and attended with
great expense to the Company. In short, it was the opinion of every
intelligent person that it might have made an obstinate resistance when
attacked, had it been as well provided in other respects; but through
the impolitic conduct of the Company, every courageous exertion of their
servants must have been considered as imprudent temerity; for this
place, which would have required four hundred men for its defence, the
Company, in its consummate wisdom, had garrisoned with only thirty-nine."

In this matter, Umfreville very plainly shows his animus to the Company,
but incidentally he exonerates Hearne from the charge of cowardice,
inasmuch as it would have been madness to make defence against so large
a body of men. As has been before pointed out, we can hardly charge
with cowardice the man who had shown his courage and determination in
the three toilsome and dangerous journeys spoken of; rather would we
see in this a proof of his wisdom under unfortunate circumstances. The
surrender of York Factory to La Perouse twelve days afterwards, without
resistance, was an event of an equally discouraging kind. The Company
suffered great loss by the surrender of these forts, which had been
unmolested since the Treaty of Utrecht.



     Andrew Graham's "Memo."--Prince of Wales Fort--The
     garrison--Trade--York Factory--Furs--Albany--Subordinate
     forts--Moose--Moses Norton--Cumberland House--Upper
     Assiniboine--Rainy Lake--Brandon House--Red River--Conflict of the

The new policy of the Company that for a hundred years had carried on
its operations in Hudson Bay was now to be adopted. As soon as the plan
could be developed, a long line of posts in the interior would serve
to carry on the chief trade, and the forts and factories on Hudson Bay
would become depôts for storage and ports of departure for the Old World.

It is interesting at this point to have a view of the last days of
the old system which had grown up during the operations of a century.
We are fortunate in having an account of these forts in 1771 given by
Andrew Graham, for many years a factor of the Hudson's Bay Company. This
document is to be found in the Hudson's Bay Company house in London,
and has been hitherto unpublished. The simplicity of description and
curtness of detail gives the account its chief charm.

PRINCE OF WALES FORT.--On a peninsula at the entrance of the Churchill
River. Most northern settlement of the Company. A stone fort, mounting
forty-two cannon, from six to twenty-four pounders. Opposite, on the
south side of the river, Cape Merry Battery, mounting six twenty-four
pounders with lodge-house and powder magazine. The river 1,006 yards
wide. A ship can anchor six miles above the fort. Tides carry salt
water twelve miles up the river. No springs near; drink snow water nine
months of the year. In summer keep three draught horses to haul water
and draw stones to finish building of forts.

Staff:--A chief factor and officers, with sixty servants and tradesmen.
The council, with discretionary power, consists of chief factor, second
factor, surgeon, sloop and brig masters, and captain of Company's ship
when in port. These answer and sign the general letter, sent yearly
to directors. The others are accountant, trader, steward, armourer,
ship-wright, carpenter, cooper, blacksmith, mason, tailor, and
labourers. These must not trade with natives, under penalties for so
doing. Council mess together, also servants. Called by bell to duty,
work from six to six in summer; eight to four in winter. Two watch
in winter, three in summer. In emergencies, tradesmen must work at
anything. Killing of partridges the most pleasant duty.

Company signs contract with servants for three or five years, with the
remarkable clause: "Company may recall them home at any time without
satisfaction for the remaining time. Contract may be renewed, if
servants or labourers wish, at expiry of term. Salary advanced forty
shillings, if men have behaved well in first term. The land and sea
officers' and tradesmen's salaries do not vary, but seamen's are raised
in time of war."

A ship of 200 tons burden, bearing provisions, arrives yearly in August
or early September. Sails again in ten days, wind permitting, with cargo
and those returning. Sailors alone get pay when at home.

The annual trade sent home from this fort is from ten to four thousand
made beaver, in furs, felts, castorum, goose feathers, and quills, and
a small quantity of train oil and whalebone, part of which they receive
from the Eskimos, and the rest from the white whale fishery. A black
whale fishery is in hand, but it shows no progress.

YORK FACTORY.--On the north bank of Hayes River, three miles from the
entrance. Famous River Nelson, three miles north, makes the land between
an island. Well-built fort of wood, log on log. Four bastions with
sheds between, and a breastwork with twelve small carriage guns. Good
class of quarters, with double row of strong palisades. On the bank's
edge, before the fort, is a half-moon battery, of turf and earth, with
fifteen cannon, nine-pounders. Two miles below the fort, same side, is
a battery of ten twelve-pounders, with lodge-house and powder magazine.
These two batteries command the river, but the shoals and sand-banks
across the mouth defend us more. No ship comes higher than five miles
below the fort.

Governed like Prince of Wales Fort. Complement of men: forty-two. The
natives come down Nelson River to trade. If weather calm, they paddle
round the point. If not, they carry their furs across. This fort sends
home from 7,000 to 33,000 made beaver in furs, &c., and a small quantity
of white whale oil.

SEVERN FORT.--On the north bank of Severn River. Well-built square
house, with four bastions. Men: eighteen. Commanded by a factor and
sloop master. Eight small cannon and other warlike stores. Sloop carries
furs in the fall to York Factory and delivers them to the ship, with
the books and papers, receiving supply of trading goods, provisions,
and stores. Severn full of shoals and sand banks. Sloop has difficulty
in getting in and out. Has to wait spring tides inside the point. Trade
sent home, 5,000 to 6,600 made beaver in furs, &c.

ALBANY FORT.--On south bank of Albany River, four miles from the
entrance. Large well-built wood fort. Four bastions with shed between.
Cannon and warlike stores. Men: thirty; factor and officers. River
difficult. Ship rides five leagues out and is loaded and unloaded by
large sloop. Trade, including two sub-houses of East Main and Henley,
from 10,000 to 12,000 made beaver, &c. (This fort was the first
Europeans had in Hudson Bay, and is where Hudson traded with natives.)

HENLEY HOUSE.--One hundred miles up the river from Albany. Eleven men,
governed by master. First founded to prevent encroachments of the
French, when masters of Canada, and present to check the English.

EAST MAIN HOUSE.--Entrance of Slude River. Small square house. Sloop
master and eleven men. Trade: 1000 to 2000 made beaver in furs, &c.
Depth of water just admits sloop.

MOOSE FACTORY.--South bank of Moose River, near entrance. Well-built
wood fort--cannon and warlike stores. Twenty-five men. Factor and
officers. River admits ship to good harbour, below fort. Trade, 3,000 to
4,000 made beavers in furs, &c. One ship supplies this fort, along with
Albany and sub-forts.

These are the present Hudson's Bay Company's settlements in the Bay.
"All under one discipline, and excepting the sub-houses, each factor
receives a commission to act for benefit of Company, without being
answerable to any person or persons in the Bay, more than to consult for
good of Company in emergencies and to supply one another with trading
goods, &c., if capable, the receiver giving credit for the same."

The movement to the interior was begun from the Prince of Wales Fort
up the Churchill River. Next year, after his return from the discovery
of the Coppermine, Samuel Hearne undertook the aggressive work of
going to meet the Indians, now threatened from the Saskatchewan by the
seductive influences of the Messrs. Frobisher, of the Montreal fur
traders. The Governor at Prince of Wales Fort, for a good many years,
had been Moses Norton. He was really an Indian born at the fort, who
had received some education during a nine years' residence in England.
Of uncultivated manners, and leading far from a pure life, he was yet
a man of considerable force, with a power to command and the ability
to ingratiate himself with the Indians. He was possessed of undoubted
energy, and no doubt to his advice is very much due the movement to
leave the forts in the Bay and penetrate to the interior of the country.
In December of the very year (1773) in which Hearne went on his trading
expedition inland, Norton died.

In the following year, as we have seen, Hearne erected Cumberland House,
only five hundred yards from Frobisher's new post on Sturgeon Lake. It
was the intention of the Hudson's Bay Company also to make an effort
to control the trade to the south of Lake Winnipeg. Hastily called
away after building Cumberland House, Hearne was compelled to leave
a colleague, Mr. Cockings, in charge of the newly-erected fort, and
returned to the bay to take charge of Prince of Wales Fort, the post
left vacant by the death of Governor Norton.

The Hudson's Bay Company, now regularly embarked in the inland trade,
undertook to push their posts to different parts of the country,
especially to the portion of the fur country in the direction from which
the Montreal traders approached it. The English traders, as we learn
from Umfreville, who was certainly not prejudiced in their favour,
had the advantage of a higher reputation in character and trade among
the Indians than had their Canadian opponents. From their greater
nearness to northern waters, the old Company could reach a point in the
Saskatchewan with their goods nearly a month earlier in the spring than
their Montreal rivals were able to do. We find that in 1790 the Hudson's
Bay Company crossed south from the northern waters and erected a trading
post at the mouth of the Swan River, near Lake Winnipegoosis. This they
soon deserted and built a fort on the upper waters of the Assiniboine
River, a few miles above the present Hudson's Bay Company post of Fort

A period of surprising energy was now seen in the English Company's
affairs. "Carrying the war into Africa," they in the same year met their
antagonists in the heart of their own territory, by building a trading
post on Rainy Lake and another in the neighbouring Red Lake district,
now included in North-Eastern Minnesota. Having seized the chief
points southward, the aroused Company, in the next year (1791), pushed
north-westward from Cumberland House and built an establishment at Ile à
la Crosse, well up toward Lake Athabasca.

Crossing from Lake Winnipeg in early spring to the head waters of the
Assiniboine River, the spring brigade of the Hudson's Bay Company quite
outdid their rivals, and in 1794 built the historic Brandon House, at a
very important point on the Assiniboine River. This post was for upwards
of twenty years a chief Hudson's Bay Company centre until it was burnt.
On the grassy bank of the Assiniboine, the writer some years ago found
the remains of the old fort, and from the well-preserved character of
the sod, was able to make out the line of the palisades, the exact size
of all the buildings, and thus to obtain the ground plan.

Brandon House was on the south side of the Assiniboine, about seventeen
miles below the present city of Brandon. Its remains are situated on
the homestead of Mr. George Mair, a Canadian settler from Beauharnois,
Quebec, who settled here on July 20th, 1879. The site was well chosen at
a bend of the river, having the Assiniboine in front of it on the east
and partially so also on the north. The front of the palisade faced to
the east, and midway in the wall was a gate ten feet wide, with inside
of it a look-out tower (guérite) seven feet square. On the south side
was the long store-house. In the centre had stood a building said by
some to have been the blacksmith's shop. Along the north wall were the
buildings for residences and other purposes. The remains of other forts,
belonging to rival companies, are not far away, but of these we shall
speak again.

The same activity continued to exist in the following year, for in
points so far apart as the Upper Saskatchewan and Lake Winnipeg new
forts were built. The former of these was Edmonton House, built on the
north branch of the Saskatchewan. The fort erected on Lake Winnipeg
was probably that at the mouth of the Winnipeg River, near where Fort
Alexander now stands.

In 1796, another post was begun on the Assiniboine River, not unlikely
near the old site of Fort de la Reine, while in the following year, as
a half-way house to Edmonton on the Saskatchewan, Carlton House was
erected. The Red River proper was taken possession of by the Company in
1799. Alexander Henry, junr., tells us that very near the boundary line
(49 degrees N.) on the east side of the Red River, there were in 1800
the remains of a fort.

Such was the condition of things, so far as the Hudson's Bay Company was
concerned, at the end of the century.

In twenty-five years they had extended their trade from Edmonton House,
near the Rockies, as far as Rainy Lake; they had made Cumberland House
the centre of their operations in the interior, and had taken a strong
hold of the fertile region on the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, of which
to-day the city of Winnipeg is the centre.

Undoubtedly the severe competition between the Montreal merchants
and the Hudson's Bay Company greatly diminished the profits of both.
According to Umfreville, the Hudson's Bay Company business was conducted
much more economically than that of the merchants of Montreal. The
Company upon the Bay chiefly employed men obtained in the Orkney
Islands, who were a steady, plodding, and reliable class. The employés
of the Montreal merchants were a wild, free, reckless people, much
addicted to drink, and consequently less to be depended upon.

The same writer states that the competition between the two rival
bodies of traders resulted badly for the Indians. He says: "So that the
Canadians from Canada and the Europeans from Hudson Bay met together,
not at all to the ulterior advantage of the natives, who by this
means became degenerated and debauched, through the excessive use of
spirituous liquors imported by these rivals in commerce."

One thing at any rate had been clearly demonstrated, that the inglorious
sleeping by the side of the Bay, charged by Dobbs and others against
the old Company, had been overcome, and that the first quarter of the
second century of the history of the Hudson's Bay Company showed that
the Company's motto, "Pro Pelle Cutem," "Skin for Skin," had not been
inappropriately chosen.



     Hudson's Bay Company aggressive--The great McTavish--The
     Frobishers--Pond and Pangman dissatisfied--Gregory and
     McLeod--Strength of the North-West Company--Vessels to be
     built--New route from Lake Superior sought--Good-will at
     times--Bloody Pond--Wider union, 1787--Fort Alexandria--Mouth of
     the Souris--Enormous fur trade--Wealthy Nor'-Westers--"The Haunted

The terrible scourge of smallpox cut off one-half, some say one-third
of the Indian population of the fur country. This was a severe blow to
the prosperity of the fur trade, as the traders largely depended on
the Indians as trappers. The determination shown by the Hudson's Bay
Company, and the zeal with which they took advantage of an early access
to the Northern Indians, were a surprise to the Montreal traders, and we
find in the writings of the time, frequent expressions as to the loss of
profits produced by the competition in the fur trade.

The leading fur merchants of Montreal determined on a combination of
their forces. Chief among the stronger houses were the Frobishers.
Joseph Frobisher had returned from his two years' expedition in 1776,
"having secured what was in those days counted a competent fortune," and
was one of the "characters" of the commercial capital of Canada.

The strongest factor in the combination was probably Simon McTavish, of
whom a writer has said "that he may be regarded as the founder of the
famous North-West Company." McTavish, born in 1750, was a Highlander of
enormous energy and decision of character. While by his force of will
rousing opposition, yet he had excellent business capacity, and it was
he who suggested the cessation of rivalries and strife among themselves
and the union of their forces by the Canadian traders.


Accordingly the North-West Company was formed 1783-4, its stock being
apportioned into sixteen parts, each stockholder supplying in lieu of
money a certain proportion of the commodities necessary for trade, and
the Committee dividing their profits when the returns were made from
the sale of furs. The united firms of Benjamin and Joseph Frobisher
and Simon McTavish administered the whole affair for the traders and
received a commission as agents.

The brightest prospect lay before the new formed Company, and they had
their first gathering at Grand Portage in the spring of 1784. But union
did not satisfy all. A viciously-disposed and self-confident trader,
Peter Pond, had not been consulted. Pond was an American, who, as we
have seen in 1775, accompanied Henry, Cadot, and Frobisher to the far
North-West. Two years later he had gone to Lake Athabasca, and forty
miles from the lake on Deer River, had built in 1778 the first fort in
the far-distant region, which became known as the Fur Emporium of the
North-West. Pond had with much skill prepared a great map of the country
for presentation to the Empress Catherine of Russia, and at a later
stage gave much information to the American commissioners who settled
the boundary line under the Treaty of Paris.

Pond was dissatisfied and refused to enter the new Company. Another
trader, Peter Pangman, an American also, had been overlooked in the
new Company, and he and Pond now came to Montreal, determined to form
a strong opposition to the McTavish and Frobisher combination. In this
they were successful.

One of the rising merchants of Montreal at this time was John Gregory,
a young Englishman. He was united in partnership with Alexander Norman
McLeod, an ardent Highlander, who afterwards rose to great distinction
as a magnate of the fur trade. Pangman and Pond appealed to the
self-interest of Gregory, McLeod & Company, and so, very shortly after
his projected union of all the Canadian interests, McTavish saw arise a
rival, not so large as his own Company, but in no way to be despised.

To this rival Company also belonged an energetic, strong-willed
Scotchman, who afterwards became the celebrated Sir Alexander
Mackenzie, his cousin Roderick McKenzie--a notable character, a trader
named Ross, and also young Finlay, a son of the pioneer so well known
twenty years before in the fur trading and civil history of Canada. Pond
signalized himself by soon after deserting to the older Company.

The younger Company acted with great vigour. Leaving McLeod behind to
manage the business in Montreal, the other members found themselves
in the summer at Grand Portage, where they established a post. They
then divided up the country and gave it to the partners and traders.
Athabasca was given to Ross; Churchill River to Alexander Mackenzie; the
Saskatchewan to Pangman; and the Red River country to the veteran trader

The North-West Company entered with great energy upon its occupation of
the North-West country. We are able to refer to an unpublished memorial
presented by them, in 1784, to Governor Haldimand, which shows very well
their hopes and expectations. They claim to have explored and improved
the route from Grand Portage to Lake Ouinipique, and they ask the
governor to grant them the exclusive privilege of using this route for
ten years.

They recite the expeditions made by the Montreal traders from their
posts in 1765 up to the time of their memorial. They urge the granting
of favours to them on the double ground of their having to oppose the
"new adventurers," as they call the Hudson's Bay Company, in the north,
and they claim to desire to oppose the encroachments of the United
States in the south. They state the value of the property of the Company
in the North-West, exclusive of houses and stores, to be 25,303_l._
3_s._ 6_d._; the other outfits also sent to the country will not fall
far short of this sum. The Company will have at Grand Portage in the
following July 50,000_l._ (original cost) in fur. They further ask the
privilege of constructing a small vessel to be built at Detroit and to
be taken up Sault Ste. Marie to ply on Lake Superior, and also that in
transporting their supplies on the King's ships from Niagara and Detroit
to Michilimackinac, they may have the precedence on account of the
shortness of their season and great distance interior to be reached.

They state that they have arranged to have a spot selected at Sault Ste.
Marie, whither they may have the fort transferred from Michilimackinac,
which place had been awarded by the Treaty of Paris to the Americans.
They desire another vessel placed on the lakes to carry their furs to
Detroit. This indicates a great revival of the fur trade and vigorous
plans for its prosecution.

A most interesting statement is also made in the memorial: that on
account of Grand Portage itself having been by the Treaty of Paris left
on the American side of the boundary on Lake Superior, they had taken
steps to find a Canadian route by which the trade could be carried on
from Lake Superior to the interior. They state that they had sent off on
an expedition a canoe, with provisions only, navigated by six Canadians,
under the direction of Mr. Edward Umfreville, who had been eleven years
in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company, and who along with his
colleague, Mr. Verrance, knew the language of the Indians.

We learn from Umfreville's book that "he succeeded in his expedition
much to the satisfaction of the merchants," along the route from
Lake Nepigon to Winnipeg River. The route discovered proved almost
impracticable for trade, but as it was many years before the terms of
the treaty were carried into effect, Grand Portage remained for the time
the favourite pathway to the interior.

The conflict of the two Montreal companies almost obscured that with the
English traders from Hudson Bay. True, in some districts the competition
was peaceful and honourable. The nephew of Simon McTavish, William
McGillivray, who afterwards rose to great prominence as a trader, was
stationed with one of the rival company, Roderick McKenzie, of whom we
have spoken, on the English River. In 1786 they had both succeeded so
well in trade that, forming their men into two brigades, they returned
together, making the woods resound with the lively French songs of the

The attitude of the traders largely depended, however, on the character
of the men. To the Athabasca district the impetuous and intractable
Pond was sent by the older Company, on his desertion to it. Here there
was the powerful influence of the Hudson's Bay Company to contend
against, and the old Company from the Bay long maintained its hold on
the Northern Indians. To make a flank movement upon the Hudson's Bay
Company he sent Cuthbert Grant and a French trader to Slave Lake, on
which they established Fort Resolution, while, pushing on still farther,
they reached a point afterwards known as Fort Providence.

The third body to be represented in Athabasca Lake was the small
North-West Company by their _bourgeois_, John Ross. Ross was a peaceable
and fair man, but Pond so stirred up strife that the employés of the two
Companies were in a perpetual quarrel. In one of these conflicts Ross
was unfortunately killed. This added to the evil reputation of Pond,
who in 1781 had been charged with the murder of a peaceful trader named
Wadin, in the same Athabasca region.

When Roderick McKenzie heard at Ile à la Crosse of the murder, he
hastened to the meeting of the traders at Grand Portage. This alarming
event so affected the traders that the two Companies agreed to unite.
The union was effected in 1787, and the business at headquarters in
Montreal was now managed by the three houses of McTavish, Frobisher, and
Gregory. Alexander Mackenzie was despatched to Athabasca to take the
place of the unfortunate trader Ross, and so became acquainted with the
region which was to be the scene of his triumphs in discovery.

The union of the North-West fur companies led to extension in some
directions. The Assiniboine Valley, in one of the most fertile parts of
the country, was more fully occupied. As in the case of the Hudson's
Bay Company, the occupation of this valley took place by first coming
to Lake Winnipeg and ascending the Swan River (always a fur trader's
paradise), until, by a short portage, the Upper Assiniboine was reached.

The oldest fort in this valley belonging to the Nor'-Westers seems to
have been built by a trader, Robert Grant, a year or two after 1780. It
is declared by trader John McDonnell to have been two short days' march
from the junction of the Qu'Appelle and Assiniboine.

Well up the Assiniboine, and not far from the source of the Swan River,
stood Fort Alexandria, "surrounded by groves of birch, poplar, and
aspen," and said to have been named after Sir Alexander Mackenzie. It
was 256 feet in length by 196 feet in breadth; the "houses, stores,
&c., being well built, plastered on the inside and outside, and washed
over with a white earth, which answers nearly as well as lime for

Connected with this region was the name of a famous trader, Cuthbert
Grant, the father of the leader of the half-breeds and Nor'-Westers,
of whom we shall speak afterwards. At the mouth of Shell River on the
Assiniboine stood a small fort built by Peter Grant in 1794.

When the Nor'-Westers became acquainted with the route down the
Assiniboine, they followed it to its mouth, and from that point, where
it joined the Red River, descended to Lake Winnipeg and crossed to the
Winnipeg River.

In order to do this they established in 1785, as a halting place,
Pine Fort, about eighteen miles below the junction of the Souris and
Assiniboine Rivers. At the mouth of the Souris River, and near the site
of the Brandon House, already described as built by the Hudson's Bay
Company, the North-West Company built in 1795 Assiniboine House. This
fort became of great importance as the depôt for expeditions to the
Mandans of the Missouri River.

The union of the Montreal Companies resulted, as had been expected, in
a great expansion of the trade. In 1788 the gross amount of the trade
did not exceed 40,000_l._, but by the energy of the partners it reached
before the end of the century more than three times that amount--a
remarkable showing.

The route now being fully established, the trade settled down into
regular channels. The agents of the Company in Montreal, Messrs.
McTavish & Co., found it necessary to order the goods needed from
England eighteen months before they could leave Montreal for the West.
Arriving in Canada in the summer, they were then made up in packages for
the Indian trade. These weighed about ninety pounds each, and were ready
to be borne inland in the following spring.

Then being sent to the West, they were taken to the far points in the
ensuing winter, where they were exchanged for furs. The furs reached
Montreal in the next autumn, when they were stored to harden, and
were not to be sold or paid for before the following season. This was
forty-two months after the goods were ordered in Canada. This trade was
a very heavy one to conduct, inasmuch as allowing a merchant one year's
credit, he had still two years to carry the burden after the value of
the goods had been considered as cash.

Toward the end of the century a single year's produce was enormous. One
such year was represented by 106,000 beavers, 32,000 marten, 11,800
mink, 17,000 musquash, and, counting all together, not less than 184,000

The agents necessary to carry on this enormous volume of trade were
numerous. Sir Alexander Mackenzie informs us that there were employed
in the concern, not including officers or partners, 50 clerks, 71
interpreters and clerks, 1,120 canoe-men, and 35 guides.

The magnitude of the operations of this Company may be seen from the
foregoing statements. The capital required by the agents of the concern
in Montreal, the number of men employed, the vast quantities of goods
sent out in bales made up for the western trade, and the enormous store
of furs received in exchange, all combined to make the business of the
North-West Company an important factor in Canadian life.

Canada was then in her infancy. Upper Canada was not constituted a
province until the date of the formation of the North-West Company.
Montreal and Quebec, the only places of any importance, were small
towns. The absence of manufactures, agriculture, and means of
inter-communication or transport, led to the North-West Company being
the chief source of money-making in Canada. As the fur merchants became
rich from their profits, they bought seigniories, built mansions, and
even in some cases purchased estates in the old land.

Simon McTavish may be looked upon as a type. After a most active life,
and when he had accumulated a handsome competence, Simon McTavish owned
the Seigniory of Terrebonne, receiving in 1802 a grant of 11,500 acres
in the township of Chester. He was engaged at the time of his death,
which took place in 1804, in erecting a princely mansion at the foot of
the Mountain in Montreal. For half a century the ruins of this building
were the dread of children, and were known as McTavish's "Haunted
House." The fur-trader's tomb may still be recognized by an obelisk
enclosed within stone walls, near "Ravenscrag," the residence of the
late Sir Hugh Allan, which occupies the site of the old ruin. _Surely
the glory of the lords of the lakes and the forest has passed away._



     A young Highlander--To rival Hearne--Fort Chipewyan
     built--French Canadian voyageurs--Trader Leroux--Perils
     of the route--Post erected on Arctic Coast--Return
     journey--Pond's miscalculations--Hudson Bay Turner--Roderick
     McKenzie's hospitality--Alexander Mackenzie--Astronomy and
     mathematics--Winters on Peace River--Terrific journey--The Pacific
     slope--Dangerous Indians--Pacific Ocean, 1793--North-West passage
     by land--Great achievement--A notable book.

One of the chiefs of the fur traders seems to have had a higher ambition
than simply to carry back to Grand Portage canoes overflowing with
furs. Alexander Mackenzie had the restless spirit that made him a very
uncertain partner in the great schemes of McTavish, Frobisher & Co., and
led him to seek for glory in the task of exploration. Coming as a young
Highlander to Montreal, he had early been so appreciated for his ability
as to be sent by Gregory, McLeod & Co. to conduct their enterprise in
Detroit. Then we have seen that, refusing to enter the McTavish Company,
he had gone to Churchill River for the Gregory Company. The sudden union
of all the Montreal Companies (1787) caused, as already noted, by Pond's
murder of Ross, led to Alexander Mackenzie being placed in charge in
that year of the department of Athabasca.

The longed-for opportunity had now come to Mackenzie. He heard from the
Indians and others of how Samuel Hearne, less than twenty years before,
on behalf of their great rivals, the Hudson's Bay Company, had returned
by way of Lake Athabasca from his discovery of the Coppermine River. He
longed to reach the Arctic Sea by another river of which he had heard,
and eclipse the discovery of his rival. He even had it in view to seek
the Pacific Ocean, of which he was constantly hearing from the Indians,
where white men wearing armour were to be met--no doubt meaning the

Mackenzie proceeded in a very deliberate way to prepare for his long
journey. Having this expedition in view, he secured the appointment of
his cousin, Roderick McKenzie, to his own department. Reaching Lake
Athabasca, Roderick McKenzie selected a promontory running out some
three miles into the lake, and here built (1788) Fort Chipewyan, it
being called from the Indians who chiefly frequented the district.
It became the most important fort of the north country, being at the
converging point of trade on the great watercourses of the north-west.

On June 3rd, 1789, Alexander Mackenzie started on his first exploration.
In his own birch-bark canoe was a crew of seven. His crew is worthy of
being particularized. It consisted of four French Canadians, with the
wives of two of them. These voyageurs were François Barrieau, Charles
Ducette, or Cadien, Joseph Landry, or Cadien, Pierre de Lorme. To
complete the number was John Steinbruck, a German. The second canoe
contained the guide of the expedition, an Indian, called the "English
chief," who was a great trader, and had frequented year by year the
route to the English, on Hudson Bay. In his canoe were his two wives,
and two young Indians. In a third canoe was trader Leroux, who was to
accompany the explorer as far north as Slave Lake, and dispose of the
goods he took for furs. Leroux was under orders from his chief to build
a fort on Slave Lake.

Starting on June 3rd, the party left the lake, finding their way down
Slave River, which they already knew. Day after day they journeyed,
suffered from myriads of mosquitoes, passed the steep mountain portage,
and, undergoing many hardships, reached Slave Lake in nine days.

Skirting the lake, they departed north by an unknown river. This was
the object of Mackenzie's search. Floating down the stream, the Horn
Mountains were seen, portage after portage was crossed, the mouth of
the foaming Great Slave Lake River was passed, the snowy mountains came
in view in the distance, and the party, undeterred, pressed forward on
their voyage of discovery.

The usual incidents of early travel were experienced. The accidents,
though not serious, were numerous; the scenes met with were all new;
the natives were surprised at the bearded stranger; the usual deception
and fickleness were displayed by the Indians, only to be overcome by
the firmness and tact of Mackenzie; and forty days after starting,
the expedition looked out upon the floating ice of the Arctic Ocean.
Mackenzie, on the morning of July 14th, erected a post on the shore, on
which he engraved the latitude of the place (69 deg. 14´ N.), his own
name, the number of persons in the party, and the time they remained

His object having been thus accomplished, the important matter was to
reach Lake Athabasca in the remaining days of the open season. The
return journey had the usual experiences, and on August 24th they
came upon Leroux on Slave Lake, where that trader had erected Fort
Providence. On September 12th the expedition arrived safely at Fort
Chipewyan, the time of absence having been 102 days. The story of this
journey is given in a graphic and unaffected manner by Mackenzie in his
work of 1801, but no mention is made of his own name being attached to
the river which he had discovered.

We have stated that Peter Pond had prepared a map of the north country,
with the purpose of presenting it to the Empress of Russia. Being a man
of great energy, he was not deterred from this undertaking by the fact
that he had no knowledge of astronomical instruments and little of the
art of map-making. His statements were made on the basis of reports from
the Indians, whose custom was always to make the leagues short, that
they might boast of the length of their journeys. Computing in this way,
he made Lake Athabasca so far from Hudson Bay and the Grand Portage
that, taking Captain Cook's observations on the Pacific Coast four years
before this, the lake was only, according to his calculations, a hundred
or a hundred and fifty miles from the Pacific Ocean.

The effect of Pond's calculations, which became known in the Treaty of
Paris, was to stimulate the Hudson's Bay Company to follow up Hearne's
discoveries and to explore the country west of Lake Athabasca. They
attempted this in 1785, but they sent out a boy of fifteen, named
George Charles, who had been one year at a mathematical school, and
had never made there more than simple observations. As was to have been
expected, the boy proved incompetent. Urged on by the Colonial Office,
they again in 1791 organized an expedition to send Astronomer Philip
Turnor to make the western journey. Unaccustomed to the Far West, and
poorly provided for this journey, Turner found himself at Fort Chipewyan
entirely dependent for help and shelter on the Nor'-Westers. He was,
however, qualified for his work, and made correct observations, which
settled the question of the distance of the Pacific Ocean. Mr. Roderick
McKenzie showed him every hospitality. This expedition served at least
to show that the Pacific was certainly five times the distance from Lake
Athabasca that Pond had estimated.


After coming back from the Arctic Sea, Alexander Mackenzie spent his
time in urging forward the business of the fur trade, especially north
of Lake Athabasca; but there was burning in his breast the desire to be
the discoverer of the Western Sea. The voyage of Turner made him still
more desirous of going to the West.

Like Hearne, Alexander Mackenzie had found the want of astronomical
knowledge and the lack of suitable instruments a great drawback in
determining his whereabouts from day to day. With remarkable energy, he,
in the year 1791, journeyed eastward to Canada, crossed the Atlantic
Ocean to London, and spent the winter in acquiring the requisite
mathematical knowledge and a sufficient acquaintance with instruments to
enable him to take observations.

He was now prepared to make his journey to the Pacific Ocean. He states
that the courage of his party had been kept up on their reaching the
Arctic Sea, by the thought that they were approaching the Mer de
l'Ouest, which, it will be remembered, Verendrye had sought with such
passionate desire.

In the very year in which Mackenzie returned from Great Britain,
his great purpose to reach the Pacific Coast led him to make his
preparations in the autumn, and on October 10th, 1792, to leave Fort
Chipewyan and proceed as far up Peace River as the farthest settlement,
and there winter, to be ready for an early start in the following
spring. On his way he overtook Mr. Finlay, the younger, and called upon
him in his camp near the fort, where he was to trade for the winter.
Leaving Mr. Finlay "under several volleys of musketry," Mackenzie
pushed on and reached the spot where the men had been despatched in
the preceding spring to square timber for a house and cut palisades to
fortify it. Here, where the Boncave joins the main branch of the Peace
River, the fort was erected. His own house was not ready for occupation
before December 23rd, and the body of the men went on after that date
to erect five houses for which the material had been prepared. Troubles
were plentiful; such as the quarrelsomeness of the natives, the killing
of an Indian, and in the latter part of the winter severe cold. In May,
Mackenzie despatched six canoes laden with furs for Fort Chipewyan.

The somewhat cool reception that Mackenzie had received from the other
partners at Grand Portage, when on a former occasion he had given an
account of his voyage to the Arctic Sea, led him to be doubtful whether
his confrères would fully approve the great expedition on which he was
determined to go. He was comparatively a young man, and he knew that
there were many of the traders jealous of him. Still, his determined
character led him to hold to his plan, and his great energy urged him to
make a name for himself.

Mackenzie had found much difficulty in securing guides and voyageurs.
The trip proposed was so difficult that the bravest shrank from it. The
explorer had, however, great confidence in his colleague, Alexander
Mackay, who had arrived at the Forks a few weeks before the departure.
Mackay was a most experienced and shrewd man. After faithfully serving
his Company, he entered, as we shall see, the Astor Fur Company in
1811, and was killed among the first in the fierce attack on the ship
_Tonquin_, which was captured by the natives. Mackenzie's crew was
the best he could obtain, and their names have become historic. There
were besides Mackay, Joseph Landry and Charles Ducette, two voyageurs
of the former expedition, Baptiste Bisson, François Courtois, Jacques
Beauchamp, and François Beaulieu, the last of whom died so late as
1872, aged nearly one hundred years, probably the oldest man in the
North-West at the time. Archbishop Taché gives an interesting account
of Beaulieu's baptism at the age of seventy. Two Indians completed the
party, one of whom had been so idle a lad, that he bore till his dying
day the unenviable name of "Cancre"--the crab.

Having taken, on the day of his departure, the latitude and longitude
of his winter post, Mackenzie started on May 9th, 1793, for his notable
voyage. Seeing on the banks of the river elk, buffalo, and bear, the
expedition pushed ahead, meeting the difficulties of navigation with
patience and skill. The murmurs of his men and the desire to turn back
made no impression on Mackenzie, who, now that his Highland blood
was up, determined to see the journey through. The difficulties of
navigation became extreme, and at times the canoes had to be drawn up
stream by the branches of trees.

At length in longitude 121° W. Mackenzie reached a lake, which he
considered the head of the Ayugal or Peace River. Here the party landed,
unloaded the canoes, and by a portage of half-a-mile on a well-beaten
path, came upon another small lake. From this lake the explorers
followed a small river, and here the guide deserted the party. On June
17th the members of the expedition enjoyed, after all their toil and
anxiety, the "inexpressible satisfaction of finding themselves on the
bank of a navigable river on the west side of the first great range of

Running rapids, breaking canoes, re-ascending streams, quieting
discontent, building new canoes, disturbing tribes of surprised Indians,
and urging on his discouraged band, Mackenzie persistently kept on his
way. He was descending on Tacouche Tesse, afterwards known as the Fraser
River. Finding that the distance by this river was too great, he turned
back. At the point where he took this step (June 23rd) was afterwards
built Alexandria Fort, named after the explorer. Leaving the great
river, the party crossed the country to what Mackenzie called the West
Road River. For this land journey, begun on July 4th, the explorers were
provided with food. After sixteen days of a most toilsome journey, they
at length came upon an arm of the sea. The Indians near the coast seemed
very troublesome, but the courage of Mackenzie never failed him. It was
represented to him that the natives "were as numerous as mosquitoes and
of a very malignant character."

His destination having been reached, the commander mixed up some
vermilion in melted grease and inscribed in large characters on the
south-east face of the rock, on which they passed the night, "Alexander
Mackenzie, from Canada, by land the twenty-second of July, one thousand
seven hundred and ninety-three."

After a short rest the well-repaid explorers began their homeward
journey. To ascend the Pacific slope was a toilsome and discouraging
undertaking, but the energy which had enabled them to come through
an unknown road easily led them back by a way that had now lost its
uncertainty. Mackenzie says that when "we reached the downward current
of the Peace River and came in view of Fort McLeod, we threw out our
flag and accompanied it with a general discharge of fire-arms, while
the men were in such spirits and made such an active use of their
paddles, that we arrived before the two men whom we left in the spring
could recover their senses to answer us. Thus we landed at four in the
afternoon at the place which we left in the month of May. In another
month (August 24th) Fort Chipewyan was reached, where the following
winter was spent in trade."

It is hard to estimate all the obstacles overcome and the great service
rendered in the two voyages of Alexander Mackenzie. Readers of the
"North-West Passage by Land" will remember the pitiable plight in which
Lord Milton and Dr. Cheadle, nearly seventy years afterwards, reached
the coast. Mackenzie's journey was more difficult, but the advantage
lay with the fur-traders in that they were experts in the matters of
North-West travel. Time and again, Mackenzie's party became discouraged.
When the Pacific slope was reached, and the voyageurs saw the waters
begin to run away from the country with which they were acquainted,
their fears were aroused, and it was natural that they should be
unwilling to proceed further.

Mackenzie had, however, all the instincts of a brave and tactful
leader. On one occasion he was compelled to take a stand and declare
that if his party deserted him, he would go on alone. This at once
aroused their admiration and sympathy, and they offered to follow him.
At the point on the great river where he turned back, the Indians were
exceedingly hostile. His firmness and perfect self-control showed the
same spirit that is found in all great leaders in dealing with savage or
semi-civilized races. Men like Frontenac, Mackenzie, and General Gordon
seemed to have a charmed life which enabled them to exercise a species
of mesmeric influence over half-trained or entirely uncultivated minds.

From the wider standpoint, knowledge was supplied as to the country
lying between the two great oceans, and while it did not, as we know
from the voyages seeking a North-West Passage in this century, lay
the grim spectre of an Arctic channel, yet it was a fulfilment of
Verendrye's dream, and to Alexander Mackenzie, a Canadian bourgeois, a
self-made man, aided by his Scotch and French associates, had come the
happy opportunity of discovering "La Grande Mer de l'Ouest."

Alexander Mackenzie, filled with the sense of the importance of his
discovery, determined to give it to the world, and spent the winter at
Fort Chipewyan in preparing the material. In this he was much assisted
by his cousin, Roderick McKenzie, to whom he sent the journal for
revision and improvement. Early in the year 1794, the distinguished
explorer left Lake Athabasca, journeyed over to Grand Portage, and a
year afterward revisited his native land. He never returned to the
"Upper Country," as the Athabasca region was called, but became one
of the agents of the fur-traders in Montreal, never coming farther
toward the North-west than to be present at the annual gatherings of
the traders at Grand Portage. The veteran explorer continued in this
position till the time when he crossed the Atlantic and published his
well-known "Voyages from Montreal," dedicated to "His Most Sacred
Majesty George the Third." The book, while making no pretensions to
literary attainment, is yet a clear, succinct, and valuable account of
the fur trade and his own expeditions. It was the work which excited
the interest of Lord Selkirk in Rupert's Land and which has become a
recognized authority.

In 1801 this work of Alexander Mackenzie was published, and the order
of knighthood was conferred upon the successful explorer. On his return
to Canada, Sir Alexander engaged in strong opposition to the North-West
Company and became a member of the Legislative Assembly for Huntingdon
County, in Lower Canada. He lived in Scotland during the last years of
his life, and died in the same year as the Earl of Selkirk, 1820. Thus
passed away a man of independent mind and of the highest distinction.
His name is fixed upon a region that is now coming into greater notice
than ever before.



     Grand Portage on American soil--Anxiety about the
     boundary--David Thompson, astronomer and surveyor--His
     instructions--By swift canoe--The land of beaver--A dash to the
     Mandans--Stone Indian House--Fixes the boundary at Pembina--Sources
     of the Mississippi--A marvellous explorer--Pacific slope
     explored--Thompson down the Kootenay and Columbia--Fiery Simon
     Fraser in New Caledonia--Discovers Fraser River--Sturdy John
     Stuart--Thompson River--Bourgeois Quesnel--Transcontinental

A number of events conspired to make it necessary for the North-West
Company to be well acquainted with the location of its forts within the
limits of the territory of the United States, in some parts of which
it carried on operations of trade, and to understand its relation to
the Hudson's Bay Company's territory. The treaty of amity and commerce,
which is usually connected with the name of John Jay, 1794, seemed
to say that all British forts in United States territory were to be
evacuated in two years. This threw the partners at Grand Portage into a
state of excitement, inasmuch as they knew that the very place of their
gathering was on the American side of the boundary line.


At this juncture the fitting instrument appeared at Grand Portage. This
was David Thompson. This gentleman was a Londoner, educated at the Blue
Coat School, in London. Trained thoroughly in mathematics and the use
of astronomical instruments, he had obtained a position in the Hudson's
Bay Company. In the summer of 1795, with three companions, two of them
Indians, he had found his way from Hudson Bay to Lake Athabasca, and
thus showed his capability as an explorer. Returning from his Western
expedition, he reported to Mr. Joseph Colon, the officer in charge at
York Fort, by whose orders he had gone to Athabasca, and expressed
himself as willing to undertake further explorations for the Company.
The answer was curt--to the effect that no more surveys could then be
undertaken by the Company, however desirable. Thompson immediately
decided to seek employment elsewhere in the work for which he was
so well qualified. Leaving the Bay and the Company behind, attended
only by two Indians, he journeyed inland and presented himself at the
summer meeting of the North-West fur-traders at Grand Portage. Without
hesitation they appointed him astronomer and surveyor of the North-West

Astronomer Thompson's work was well mapped out for him.

(1) He was instructed to survey the forty-ninth parallel of latitude.
This involved a question which had greatly perplexed the diplomatists,
viz. the position of the source of the Mississippi. Many years after
this date it was a question to decide which tributary is the source of
the Mississippi, and to this day there is a difference of opinion on the
subject, i.e. which of the lakes from which different branches spring is
the true source of the river. The fact that the sources were a factor in
the settling of the boundary line of this time made it necessary to have
expert testimony on the question such as could be furnished by a survey
by Thompson.

(2) The surveyor was to go to the Missouri and visit the ancient
villages of the natives who dwelt there and who practised agriculture.

(3) In the interests of science and history, to inquire for the fossils
of large animals, and to search for any monuments that might throw a
light on the ancient state of the regions traversed.

(4) It was his special duty to determine the exact position of the posts
of the North-West Company visited by him, and all agents and employés
were instructed to render him every assistance in his work.

Astronomer Thompson only waited the departure of one of the Great
Northern brigades to enter upon the duties of his new office. These
departures were the events of the year, having in the eyes of the
fur-traders something of the nature of a caravan for Mecca about
them. Often a brigade consisted of eight canoes laden with goods and
well-manned. The brigade which Thompson accompanied was made up of four
canoes under trader McGillies, and was ready to start on August 9th,
1796. He had taken the observation for Grand Portage and found it to be
48 deg. (nearly) N. latitude and 89 deg. 3´ 4´´ (nearly) W. longitude.

He was now ready with his instruments--a sextant of ten inches radius,
with quicksilver and parallel glasses, an excellent achromatic
telescope, one of the smaller kind, drawing instruments, and a
thermometer, and all of these of the best make. The portage was wearily
trudged, and in a few days, after a dozen shorter portages, the height
of land was reached in 48 deg. N. latitude, and here begins the flow of
water to Hudson Bay. It was accordingly the claim of the Hudson's Bay
Company that their territory extended from this point to the Bay. At the
outlet of Rainy Lake still stood a trading post, where Verendrye had
founded his fort, and the position of this was determined, 48 deg. 1´
2´´ N. latitude. In this locality was also a post of the Hudson's Bay

No post seems at this time to have been in use on Rainy River or Lake
of the Woods by any of the trading companies, though it will be seen
that the X Y Company was at this date beginning its operations. At the
mouth of the Winnipeg River, however, there were two establishments, the
one known as Lake Winnipeg House, or Bas de la Rivière, an important
distributing point, now found to be in 50 deg. 1´ 2´´ N. latitude.
There was also near by it the Hudson's Bay Company post, founded in the
previous year.

Thompson, being in company with his brigade, which was going to the west
of Lake Manitoba, coasted along Lake Winnipeg, finding it dangerous
to cross directly, and after taking this roundabout, in place of the
127 miles in a straight line, reached what is now known as the Little
Saskatchewan River on the west side of Lake Winnipeg.

Going by the little Saskatchewan River through its windings and across
the meadow portage, he came to Lake Winnipegoosis and, northward along
its western coast, reached Swan River, the trappers' paradise. Swan
River post was twelve miles up the river from its mouth, and was found
to be in 52 deg 24´ N. latitude. Crossing over to the Assiniboine (Stone
Indian) River, he visited several posts, the most considerable being
Fort Tremblant (Poplar Fort), which some think had its name changed to
Fort Alexandria in honour of Sir Alexander Mackenzie.

John McDonnell, North-West trader of this period, says:--"Fort Tremblant
and the temporary posts established above it furnished most of the
beaver and otter in the Red River returns, but the trade has been almost
ruined since the Hudson's Bay Company entered the Assiniboine River by
the way of Swan River, carrying their merchandise from one river to the
other on horseback--three days' journey--who by that means, and the
short distance between Swan River and their factory at York Fort, from
whence they are equipped, can arrive at the _coude de l'homme_ (a river
bend or angle) in the Assiniboine River, a month sooner than we can
return from Grand Portage, secure the fall trade, give credits to the
Indians, and send them to hunt before our arrival; so that we see but
few in that quarter upon our arrival."

The chief trader of this locality was Cuthbert Grant, who, as before
mentioned, was a man of great influence in the fur trade.

The astronomer next went to the Fort between the Swan and Assiniboine
Rivers, near the spot where the famous Fort Pelly of the present day
is situated. Taking horses, a rapid land journey was made to Belleau's
Fort, lying in 53 deg. N. latitude (nearly).

The whole district is a succession of beaver meadows, and had at this
time several Hudson's Bay Company posts, as already mentioned. Thompson
decided to winter in this beaver country, and when the following summer
had fairly set in with good roads and blossoming prairies, he came,
after journeying more than 200 miles southward, to the Qu'Appelle River
post, which was at that time under a trader named Thorburn. Thompson was
now fairly on the Assiniboine River, and saw it everywhere run through
an agreeable country with a good soil and adapted to agriculture.

Arrived at Assiniboine House, he found it in charge of John McDonnell,
brother of the well-known Miles McDonnell, who, a few years later,
became Lord Selkirk's first governor on Red River. Ensconcing himself
in the comfortable quarters at Assiniboine House, Thompson wrote up in
ink his journals, maps, astronomical observations, and sketches which he
had taken in crayon, thus giving them more permanent form. He had now
been in the employ of the North-West Company a full year, and in that
time had been fully gratified by the work he had done and by the cordial
reception given him in all the forts to which he had gone.

Assiniboine House, or, as he called it, Stone Indian House, was found to
be a congenial spot. It was on the north side of the Assiniboine River,
not far from where the Souris River empties its waters into the larger
stream, though the site has been disputed.

One of the astronomer's clearly defined directions was to visit the
Mandan villages on the Missouri River. He was now at the point when this
could be accomplished, although the time chosen by him, just as winter
was coming on, was most unsuitable. His journey reminds us of that made
by Verendrye to the Mandans in 1738.

The journey was carefully prepared for. With the characteristic
shrewdness of the North-West Company, it was so planned as to require
little expenditure. Thompson was to be accompanied chiefly by
free-traders, i.e. by men to whom certain quantities of goods would be
advanced by the Company. By the profits of this trade expenses would be
met. The guide and interpreter was René Jussaume (a man of very doubtful
character), who had fallen into the ways of the Western Indians. He had
lived for years among the Mandans, and spoke their language. Another
free-trader, Hugh McCracken, an Irishman, also knew the Mandan country,
while several French Canadians, with Brossman, the astronomer's servant
man, made up the company. Each of the traders took a credit from Mr.
McDonnell of from forty to fifty skins in goods. Ammunition, tobacco,
and trinkets, to pay expenses, were provided, and Thompson was supplied
with two horses, and his chief trader, Jussaume, with one. The men had
their own dogs to the number of thirty, and these drew goods on small
sleds. Crossing the Assiniboine, the party started south-westward, and
continued their journey for thirty-three days, with the thermometer
almost always below zero and reaching at times 36 deg. below. The
journey was a most dangerous and trying one and covered 280 miles.
Thompson found that some Hudson's Bay traders had already made flying
visits to the Mandans. On his return, Thompson's itinerary was, from the
Missouri till he reached the angle of the Souris River, seventy miles,
where he found abundant wood and shelter, and then to the south end
of Turtle Mountain, fourteen miles. Leaving Turtle Mountain, his next
station was twenty-four miles distant at a point on the Souris where an
outpost of Assiniboine House, known as Ash House, had been established.
Another journey of forty-five miles brought the expedition back to the
hospitable shelter of Mr. McDonnell at Stone Indian House. Thompson now
calculated the position of this comfortable fort and found it to be 49
deg. 41´ (nearly) N. latitude and 101 deg. 1´ 4´´ (nearly) W. longitude.

The astronomer, after spending a few weeks in making up his notes
and surveys, determined to go eastward and undertake the survey of
the Red River. On February 26th, 1798, he started with three French
Canadians and an Indian guide. Six dogs drew three sleds laden with
baggage and provisions. The company soon reached the sand hills, then
called the Manitou Hills, from some supposed supernatural agency in
their neighbourhood. Sometimes on the ice, and at other times on the
north shore of the Assiniboine to avoid the bends of the river, the
party went, experiencing much difficulty from the depth of the snow.
At length, after journeying ten days over the distance of 169 miles,
the junction of the Assiniboine and Red River, at the point where now
stands the city of Winnipeg, was reached. There was no trading post here
at the time. It seems somewhat surprising that what became the chief
trading centre of the company, Fort Garry, during the first half of this
century should, up to the end of the former century, not have been taken
possession of by any of the three competing fur companies.

Losing no time, Thompson began, on March 7th, the survey, and going
southward over an unbroken trail, with the snow three feet deep, reached
in seven days Pembina Post, then under the charge of a leading French
trader of the company, named Charles Chaboillez. Wearied with a journey
of some sixty-four miles, which had, from the bad road, taken seven
days, Thompson enjoyed the kind shelter of Pembina House for six days.
This house was near the forty-ninth parallel and was one of the especial
points he had been appointed to determine. He found Pembina House to be
in latitude 48 deg. 58´ 24´´ N., so that it was by a very short distance
on the south side of the boundary line. Thompson marked the boundary,
so that the trading post might be removed, when necessary, to the north
side of the line. A few years later, the observation taken by Thompson
was confirmed by Major Long on his expedition of 1823, but the final
settlement of where the line falls was not made till the time of the
boundary commission of 1872.

Pushing southward in March, the astronomer ascended Red River to the
trading post known as Upper Red River, near where the town of Grand
Forks, North Dakota, stands to-day. Here he found J. Baptiste Cadot,
probably the son of the veteran master of Sault Ste. Marie, who so long
clung to the flag of the Golden Lilies.

Thompson now determined to survey what had been an object of much
interest, the lake which was the source of the great River Mississippi.
To do this had been laid upon him in his instructions from the
North-West Company. Making a détour from Grand Forks, in order to avoid
the ice on the Red Lake River, he struck the upper waters of that
river, and followed the banks until he reached Red Lake in what is now
North-Eastern Minnesota. Leaving this lake, he made a portage of six
miles to Turtle Lake, and four days later reached the point considered
by him to be the source of the Mississippi. Turtle Lake, at the time of
the treaty of 1783, was supposed to be further north than the north-west
angle of the Lake of the Woods. This arose, Thompson tells us, from the
voyageurs counting a pipe to a league, at the end of which time it was
the fur-traders' custom to take a rest. Each pipe, that is, the length
of time taken to smoke a pipe, however, was nearer two miles than
three, so that the head waters of the Mississippi had been counted 128
miles further north than Thompson found them to be. It is to be noted,
however, that the Astronomer Thompson was wrong in making Turtle Lake
the source of the Mississippi. The accredited source of the Mississippi
was discovered, as we shall afterwards see, in July, 1832, to be Lake
Itasca, which lies about half a degree south-west of Turtle Lake.

Thompson next visited Red Cedar Lake, in the direction of Lake Superior.
Here he found a North-West trading house, Upper Red Cedar House, under
the command of a partner, John Sayer, whose half-blood son afterward
figured in Red River history. He found that Sayer and his men passed the
winter on wild rice and maple sugar as their only food.

Crossing over to Sand Lake River, Mr. Thompson found a small post of
the North-West Company, and, descending this stream, came to Sand Lake.
By portage, reaching a small stream, a tributary of St. Louis River, he
soon arrived at that river itself, with its rapids and dalles, and at
length reached the North-West trading post near the mouth of the river,
where it joined the Fond du Lac.

Having come to Lake Superior, the party could only obtain a dilapidated
northern canoe, but with care it brought them, after making an enormous
circuit and accomplishing feats involving great daring and supreme
hardship, along the north shore of the lake to Grand Portage. On hearing
his report of two years' work, the partners, at the annual meeting at
Grand Portage, found they had made no mistake in their appointment, and
gave him the highest praise.

The time had now come, after the union of the North-West Company and
the X Y Company, for pushing ahead the great work in their hands and
examining the vast country across the Rocky Mountains. The United
Company in 1805 naturally took up what had been planned several years
before, and sent David Thompson up the Saskatchewan to explore the
Columbia River and examine the vast "sea of mountains" bordering on the
Pacific Ocean. The other partner chosen was Simon Fraser, and his orders
were to go up the Peace River, cross the Rockies, and explore the region
from its northern side. We shall see how well Fraser did his part, and
meanwhile we may follow Thompson in his journey.

In 1806, we find that he crossed the Rockies and built in the following
year a trading-house for the North-West Company on the Lower Columbia.
Thompson called his trading post Kootenay House, and indeed his
persistent use of the term "Kootenay" rather than "Columbia," which he
well knew was the name of the river, is somewhat remarkable. Coming over
the pass during the summer he returned to Kootenay House and wintered
there in 1807-1808. During the summer of 1808, he visited possibly Grand
Portage, certainly Fort Vermilion. Fort Vermilion, a short distance
above the present Fort Pitt, was well down the north branch of the
Saskatchewan River, and on his way to it, Thompson would pass Fort
Augustus, a short distance below where Edmonton now stands, as well as
Fort George.

He left Fort Vermilion in September, and by October 21st, the
Saskatchewan being frozen over, he laid up canoes for the winter, and
taking horses, crossed the Rocky Mountains, took to canoes on the
Columbia River again, and on November 10th arrived at his fort of
Kootenay House, where he wintered. On this journey, Thompson discovered
Howse's Pass, which is about 52 deg. N. latitude.

In 1809, Thompson determined on extending his explorations southward on
the Columbia River. A short distance south of the international boundary
line, he built a post in September of that year. He seems to have spent
the winter of this year in trying new routes, some of which he found
impracticable, and can hardly be said to have wintered at any particular
spot. In his pilgrimage, he went up the Kootenay River, which he called
McGillivray's River, in honour of the famous partner, but the name has
not been retained. Hastening to his post of Kootenay House, he rested a
day, and travelling by means of canoes and horses, in great speed came
eastward and reached Fort Augustus, eight days out from Kootenay, June
22nd, 1810. From this point he went eastward, at least as far as Rainy
Lake, leaving his "little family" with his sister-in-law, a Cree woman,
at Winnipeg River House.

Returning, he started on October 10th, 1810, for Athabasca. He
discovered the Athabasca Pass on the "divide," and on July 3rd, 1811,
started to descend the Columbia, and did so, the first white man, as far
as Lewis River, from which point Lewis and Clark in 1805, having come
over the Rocky Mountains, had preceded him to the sea. Near the junction
of the Spokane River with the Columbia, he erected a pole and tied
to it a half-sheet of paper, claiming the country north of the forks
as British territory. This notice was seen by a number of the Astor
employés, for Ross states that he observed it in August, with a British
flag flying upon it. Thompson's name among the Indians of the coast was

Ross Cox states that "in the month of July, 1811, Mr. David Thompson,
Astronomer to the North-West Company, of which he was also a proprietor,
arrived with nine men in a canoe at Astoria from the interior. This
gentleman came on a voyage of discovery to the Columbia, preparatory to
the North-West Company forming a settlement at the mouth of the river.
He remained at Astoria until the latter end of July, when he took his
departure for the interior."

Thompson was thus disappointed on finding the American company installed
at the mouth of the Columbia before him, but he re-ascended the river
and founded two forts on its banks at advantageous points.

Thompson left the western country with his Indian wife and children soon
after this, and in Eastern Canada, in 1812-13, prepared a grand map of
the country, which adorned for a number of years the banqueting-room of
the bourgeois at Fort William and is now in the Government buildings at

In 1814 he definitely left the upper country, and was employed by the
Imperial Government in surveying a part of the boundary line of the
United States and Canada. He also surveyed the watercourses between the
Ottawa River and Georgian Bay. He lived for years at the River Raisin,
near Williamstown, in Upper Canada, and was very poor. At the great
age of eighty-seven, he died at Longueil. He was not appreciated as he
deserved. His energy, scientific knowledge, experience, and successful
work for the Company for sixteen years make him one of the most notable
men of the period.


As we have seen, the entrance by the northern access to the Pacific
slope was confided to Simon Fraser, and we may well, after considering
the exploits of David Thompson, refer to those of his colleague in the

Simon Fraser, one of the most daring of the fur-traders, was the son
of a Scottish U.E. Loyalist,[4] who was captured by the Americans at
Burgoyne's surrender and who died in prison. The widowed mother took her
infant boy to Canada, and lived near Cornwall. After going to school,
the boy, who was of the Roman Catholic faith, entered the North-West
Company at the age of sixteen as a clerk, and early became a bourgeois
of the Company. His administrative ability led to his being appointed
agent at Grand Portage in 1797. A few years afterwards, Fraser was
sent to the Athabasca region, which was at that time the point aimed
at by the ambitious and determined young Nor'-Westers. By way of Peace
River, he undertook to make his journey to the west side of the Rocky
Mountains. Leaving the bulk of his command at the Rocky Mountain
portage, he pushed on with six men, and reaching the height of land,
crossed to the lake, which he called McLeod's in honour of his prominent
partner, Archibald Norman McLeod. Stationing three men at this point,
Fraser returned to his command and wintered there.

In the spring of 1806 he passed through the mountains, and came upon a
river, which he called Stuart River. John Stuart, who was at that time
a clerk, was for thirty years afterwards identified with the fur trade.
Stuart Lake, in British Columbia, was also called after him. On the
Stuart River, Fraser built a post, which, in honour of his fatherland,
he called New Caledonia, and this probably led to this great region on
the west of the mountains being called New Caledonia. Stuart was left in
charge of this post, and Fraser went west to a lake, which since that
time has been called Fraser Lake. He returned to winter at the new fort.

Fraser's disposition to explore and his success thus far led the
Company to urge their confrère to push on and descend the great River
Tacouche Tesse, down which Alexander Mackenzie had gone for some
distance, and which was supposed to be the Columbia. It was this
expedition which created Fraser's fame. The orders to advance had been
brought to him in two canoes by two traders, Jules Maurice Quesnel and
(Hugh) Faries.

Leaving behind Faries with two men in the new fort, Fraser, at the mouth
of the Nechaco or Stuart River, where afterward stood Fort George,
gathered his expedition, and was ready to depart on his great, we may
well call it terrific, voyage, down the river which since that time
has borne his name. His company consisted of Stuart, Quesnel, nineteen
voyageurs, and two Indians, in four canoes. It is worthy of note that
John Stuart, who was Fraser's lieutenant, was in many ways the real
leader of the expedition. Having been educated in engineering, Stuart,
by his scientific knowledge, was indispensable to the exploring party.

On May 22nd a start was made from the forks. We have in Masson's first
volume preserved to us Simon Fraser's journal of this remarkable voyage,
starting from the Rockies down the river. The keynote to the whole
expedition is given us in the seventh line of the journal. "Having
proceeded about eighteen miles, we came to a strong rapid which we
ran down, nearly wrecking one of our canoes against a precipice which
forms the right bank of the river." A succession of rapids, overhung by
enormous heights of perpendicular rocks, made it almost as difficult
to portage as it would have been to risk the passage of the canoes and
their loads down the boiling cauldron of the river.

Nothing can equal the interest of hearing in the explorer's own words
an incident or two of the journey. On the first Wednesday of June he
writes: "Leaving Mr. Stuart and two men at the lower end of the rapid
in order to watch the motions of the natives, I returned with the other
four men to the camp. Immediately on my arrival I ordered the five men
out of the crews into a canoe lightly loaded, and the canoe was in a
moment under way. After passing the first cascade she lost her course
and was drawn into the eddy, whirled about for a considerable time,
seemingly in suspense whether to sink or swim, the men having no power
over her. However, she took a favourable turn, and by degrees was led
from this dangerous vortex again into the stream. In this manner she
continued, flying from one danger to another, until the last cascade but
one, where in spite of every effort the whirlpools forced her against
a low projecting rock. Upon this the men debarked, saved their own
lives, and continued to save the property, but the greatest difficulty
was still ahead, and to continue by water would be the way to certain

"During this distressing scene, we were on the shore looking on and
anxiously concerned; seeing our poor fellows once more safe afforded
us as much satisfaction as to themselves, and we hastened to their
assistance; but their situation rendered our approach perilous and
difficult. The bank was exceedingly high and steep, and we had to
plunge our daggers at intervals into the ground to check our speed, as
otherwise we were exposed to slide into the river. We cut steps in the
declivity, fastened a line to the front of the canoe, with which some of
the men ascended in order to haul it up, while the others supported it
upon their arms. In this manner our situation was most precarious; our
lives hung, as it were, upon a thread, as the failure of the line, or
a false step of one of the men, might have hurled the whole of us into
eternity. However, we fortunately cleared the bank before dark."

Every day brought its dangers, and the progress was very slow. Finding
the navigation impossible, on the 26th Fraser says: "As for the road
by land, we could scarcely make our way with even only our guns. I
have been for a long period among the Rocky Mountains, but have never
seen anything like this country. It is so wild that I cannot find
words to describe our situation at times. We had to pass where no
human being should venture; yet in those places there is a regular
footpath impressed, or rather indented upon the very rocks by frequent
travelling. Besides this, steps which are formed like a ladder by poles
hanging to one another, crossed at certain distances with twigs, the
whole suspended from the top, furnish a safe and convenient passage
to the natives down these precipices; but we, who had not had the
advantage of their education and experience, were often in imminent
danger, when obliged to follow their example."

On the right, as the party proceeded along the river, a considerable
stream emptied in, to which they gave the name Shaw's River, from one of
the principal wintering partners.

Some distance down, a great river poured in from the left, making
notable forks. Thinking that likely the other expedition by way of the
Saskatchewan might be on the upper waters of that river at the very
time, they called it Thompson River, after the worthy astronomer, and it
has retained the name ever since.

But it would be a mistake to think that the difficulties were passed
when the forks of the Thompson River were left behind. Travellers on
the Canadian-Pacific Railway of to-day will remember the great gorge of
the Fraser, and how the railway going at dizzy heights, and on strong
overhanging ledges of rock, still fills the heart with fear.

On July 2nd the party reached an arm of the sea and saw the tide ebbing
and flowing, showing them they were near the ocean. They, however,
found the Indians at this part very troublesome. Fraser was compelled
to follow the native custom, "and pretended to be in a violent passion,
spoke loud, with vehement gestures, exactly in their own way, and thus
peace and tranquillity were instantly restored."

The explorer was, however, greatly disappointed that he had been
prevented by the turbulence of the natives from going down the arm
of the sea and looking out upon the Pacific Ocean. He wished to take
observations on the sea coast. However, he got the latitude, and knowing
that the Columbia is 45 deg. 20´ N., he was able to declare that the
river he had followed was not the Columbia. How difficult it is to
distinguish small from great actions! Here was a man making fame for all
time, and the idea of the greatness of his work had not dawned upon him.

A short delay, and the party turned northward on July 4th, and with many
hardships made their way up the river. On their ascent few things of
note happened, the only notable event being the recognition of the fame
of the second bourgeois, Jules Quesnel, by giving his name to a river
flowing into the Fraser River from the east. The name is still retained,
and is also given to the lake which marks the enlargement of the river.
On August 6th, the party rejoined Faries and his men in the fort on
Stuart Lake. The descent occupied forty-two days, and, as explorers have
often found in such rivers as the Fraser, the ascent took less time than
the descent. In this case, their upward journey was but of thirty-three

Fraser returned to the east in the next year and is found in 1811 in
charge of the Red River district, two years afterward in command on the
Mackenzie River, and at Fort William on Lake Superior, in 1816, when the
Fort was taken by Lord Selkirk. After retiring, he lived at St. Andrews
on the Ottawa and died at the advanced age of eighty-six, having been
known as one of the most noted and energetic fur-traders in the history
of the companies.

Thus we have seen the way in which these two kings of adventure--Fraser
and Thompson--a few years after Sir Alexander Mackenzie, succeeded amid
extraordinary hardships in crossing to the Western Sea. The record
of the five transcontinental expeditions of these early times is as

(1) Alexander Mackenzie, by the Tacouche Tesse and Bellacoola River,

(2) Lewis and Clark, the American explorers, by the Columbia River, 1805.

(3) Simon Fraser by the river that bears his name, formerly the Tacouche
Tesse, 1808.

(4) David Thompson, by the Columbia River, 1811.

(5) The overland party of Astorians, by the Columbia, 1811.

These expeditions shed a flood of glory on the Anglo-Saxon name and


[4] The United Empire Loyalists were those British patriots who left
the United States after the Revolution.



     "Le Marquis" Simon McTavish unpopular--Alexander Mackenzie his
     rival--Enormous activity of the "Potties"--Why called X Y--Five
     rival posts at Souris--Sir Alexander, the silent partner--Old Lion
     of Montreal roused--"Posts of the King"--Schooner sent to Hudson
     Bay--Nor'-Westers erect two posts on Hudson Bay--Supreme folly--Old
     and new Nor'-Westers unite--List of partners.

For some years the Montreal fur companies, in their combinations and
readjustments, had all the variety of the kaleidoscope. Agreements were
made for a term of years, and when these had expired new leagues were
formed, and in every case dissatisfied members went into opposition and
kept up the heat and competition without which it is probable the fur
trade would have lost, to those engaged in it, many of its charms.

In 1795 several partners had retired from the North-West Company
and thrown in their lot with the famous firm that we have seen was
always inclined to follow its own course--Messrs. Forsyth, Richardson
and Co. For a number of years this independent Montreal firm had
maintained a trade in the districts about Lake Superior. The cause
of this disruption in the Company was the unpopularity, among the
wintering partners especially, of the strong-willed and domineering
chief in Montreal--Simon McTavish. One set of bourgeois spoke of him
derisively as "Le Premier," while others with mock deference called him
"Le Marquis." Sir Alexander Mackenzie had been himself a partner, had
resided in the Far West, and he was regarded by all the traders in the
"upper country" as their friend and advocate. Although the discontent
was very great when the secession took place, yet the mere bonds of
self-interest kept many within the old Company. Alexander Mackenzie
most unwillingly consented to remain in the old Company, but only for
three years, reserving to himself the right to retire at the end of that

Notwithstanding their disappointment, and possibly buoyed up with the
hope of having the assistance of their former friend at a later period,
the members of the X Y Company girt themselves about for the new
enterprise in the next year, so that the usual date of this Company is
from the year 1795. Whether it was the circumstance of its origination
in dislike of "Le Premier," or whether the partners felt the need of
greater activity on account of their being weaker, it must be confessed
that a new era now came to the fur trade, and the opposition was carried
on with a warmth much greater than had ever been known among the old
companies. A casual observer can hardly help feeling that while not a
member of the new Company at this date, Alexander Mackenzie was probably
its active promoter behind the scenes.

The new opposition developed without delay. Striking at all the salient
points, the new Company in 1797 erected its trading house at Grand
Portage, somewhat more than half-a-mile from the North-West trading
house and on the other side of the small stream that there falls into
the Bay. A few years after, when the North-West Company moved to
Kaministiquia, the X Y also erected a building within a mile of the new
fort. The new Company was at some time in its history known as the New
North-West Company, but was more commonly called the X Y Company. The
origin of this name is accounted for as follows. On the bales which
were made up for transport, it was the custom to mark the North-West
Company's initials N.W. When the new Company, which was an offshoot
of the old, wished to mark their bales, they simply employed the next
letters of the alphabet, X Y. They are accordingly not contractions,
and should not be written as such. It was the habit of members of
the older Company to express their contempt for the secessionists by
calling them the "Little Company" or "the Little Society." In the
Athabasca country the rebellious traders were called by their opponents
"Potties," probably a corruption of "Les Petits," meaning members of "La
Petite Compagnie." When these names were used by the French Canadian
voyageurs, the X Y Company was referred to.

However disrespectfully they may have been addressed, the traders of
the new Company caused great anxiety both to the North-West Company and
to the Hudson's Bay Company, though they regarded themselves chiefly
as rivals of the former. Pushing out into the country nearest their
base of supplies on Lake Superior, they took hold of the Red River and
Assiniboine region, as well as of the Red Lake country immediately south
of and connected with it. The point where the Souris empties into the
Assiniboine was occupied in the same year (1798) by the X Y Company.
It had been a favourite resort for all classes of fur-traders, there
having been no less than five opposing trading houses at this point four
years before. No doubt the presence of the free-trading element such as
McCracken and Jussaume, whom we find in the Souris region thus early,
made it easier for smaller concerns to carry on a kind of business in
which the great North-West Company would not care to be engaged.

Meanwhile dissension prevailed in the North-West Company. The
smouldering feeling of dislike between "Le Marquis" and Alexander
Mackenzie and the other fur-trading magnates broke out into a flame.
As ex-Governor Masson says: "These three years were an uninterrupted
succession of troubles, differences, and misunderstandings between these
two opposing leaders." At the great gathering at the Grand Portage in
1799, Alexander Mackenzie warned the partners that he was about to
quit the Company, and though the winterers begged him not to carry out
his threat, yet he remained inexorable. The discussion reported to
Mr. McTavish was very displeasing to him, and in the following year
his usual letter to the gathering written from Montreal was curt and
showed much feeling, he saying, "I feel hurt at the distrust and want of
confidence that appeared throughout all your deliberations last season."

Alexander Mackenzie, immediately after the scene at Grand Portage,
crossed over to England, published his "Voyages," and received his
title. He then returned in 1801 to Canada. Flushed with the thought of
his successes, he threw himself with great energy into the affairs of
the opposing Company, the X Y, or, as it was also now called, that
of "Sir Alexander Mackenzie and Company." If the competition had been
warm before, it now rose to fever heat. The brigandage had scarcely any
limit; combats of clerk with clerk, trapper with trapper, voyageur with
voyageur, were common. Strong drink became, as never before or since, a
chief instrument of the rival companies in dealing with the Indians.

A North-West Company trader, writing from Pembina, says: "Indians daily
coming in by small parties; nearly 100 men here. I gave them fifteen
kegs of mixed liquor, and the X Y gave in proportion; all drinking; I
quarrelled with Little Shell, and dragged him out of the fort by the
hair. Indians very troublesome, threatening to level my fort to the
ground, and their chief making mischief. I had two narrow escapes from
being stabbed by him; once in the hall and soon afterwards in the shop."

Such were the troubles of competition between the Companies. The new
Company made a determined effort to compete also in the far-distant
Peace River district. In October of this year two prominent partners of
the new Company arrived with their following at the Peace River. One
of these, Pierre de Rocheblave, was of a distinguished family, being
the nephew of a French officer who had fought on the _Monongahela_
against Braddock. The other was James Leith, who also became a prominent
fur-trader in later days.

Illustrating the keenness of the trade conflict, John McDonald, of
Garth, also says in 1798, writing from the Upper Saskatchewan, "We had
here (Fort Augustus), besides the Hudson's Bay Company, whose fort was
within a musket shot of ours, the opposition on the other side of the
new concern I have already mentioned, which had assumed a powerful shape
under the name of the X Y Company, at the head of which was the late
John Ogilvy in Montreal, and at this establishment Mr. King, an old
south trader in his prime and pride as the first among bullies."

Sir Alexander Mackenzie did wonders in the management of his Company,
but the old lion at Montreal, from his mountain château, showed a
remarkable determination, and provided as he was with great wealth,
he resolved to overcome at any price the opposition which he also
contemptuously called the "Little Company." In 1802, he, with the skill
of a great general, reconstructed his Company. He formed a combination
which was to continue for twenty years. Into this he succeeded in
introducing a certain amount of new blood; those clerks who had shown
ability were promoted to the position of bourgeois or partners. By this
progressive and statesmanlike policy, notwithstanding the energy of the
X Y Company, the old Company showed all the vigour and enthusiasm of

An employé of the North-West Company, Livingston, had a few years before
established a post on Slave Lake. Animated with the new spirit of his
superiors, he went further north still and made a discovery of silver,
but on undertaking to open trade communications with the Eskimos, the
trader unfortunately lost his life.

Other expeditions were sent to the Missouri and to the sources of the
South Saskatchewan; it is even said that in this direction a post was
established among the fierce tribes of the Bow River, west of the
present town of Calgary.

Looking out for other avenues for the wonderful store of energy in the
North-West Company, the partners took into consideration the development
of the vast fisheries of the St. Lawrence and the interior. Simon
McTavish rented the old posts of the King--meaning by these Tadoussac,
Chicoutimi, Assuapmousoin, and Mistassini, reached by way of the
Saguenay; and Ile Jérémie, Godbout, Mingan, Masquaro, and several others
along the north shore of the Lower St. Lawrence or the Gulf. The annual
rent paid for the Kings posts was 1000_l._

But the greatest flight of the old fur king's ambition was to carry
his operations into the forbidden country of the Hudson Bay itself.
In furtherance of this policy, in 1803 the North-West Company sent
a schooner of 150 tons to the shores of Hudson Bay to trade, and
along with this an expedition was sent by land by way of St. John and
Mistassini to co-operate in establishing stations on the Bay. By this
movement two posts were founded, one at Charlton Island and the other at
the mouth of the Moose River. Many of the partners were not in favour
of these expeditions planned by the strong-headed old dictator, and the
venture proved a financial loss. Simon McTavish, though comparatively
a young man, now thought of retiring, and purchased the seigniory of
Terrebonne, proposing there to lead a life of luxury and ease, but a
stronger enemy than either the X Y or Hudson's Bay Company came to break
up his plans. Death summoned him away in July, 1804.

The death of Simon McTavish removed all obstacles to union between the
old and new North-West Companies, and propositions were soon made to Sir
Alexander Mackenzie, and his friends, which resulted in a union of the
two Companies. We are fortunate in having preserved to us the agreement
by which the two Companies--old and new North-West Companies--were
united. The partners of the old Company were given three-quarters of
the stock and those of the new one-quarter. The provisions of the
agreement are numerous, but chiefly deal with necessary administration.
One important clause is to the effect that no business other than the
fur trade, or what is necessarily depending thereon, shall be followed
by the Company. No partner of the new concern is to be allowed to have
any private interests at the posts outside those of the Company. By
one clause the new North-West Company is protected from any expense
that might arise from Simon McTavish's immense venture on the Hudson
Bay. It may be interesting to give the names of the partners of the two
Companies, those who were not present, from being mostly in the interior
and whose names were signed by those having powers of attorney from
them, being marked Att.


  Alex. Mackenzie.
  Thomas Forsyth, Att.
  John Richardson.
  John Inglis, Att.
  James Forsyth, Att.
  John Mure, Att.
  John Forsyth.
  Alex. Ellice, Att.
  John Haldane, Att.
  Thomas Forsyth, Att.
  Late Leith, Jameson & Co. (by Trustees).
  John Ogilvie.
  P. de Rocheblane, Att.
  Alex. McKenzie, Att. (2).
  John Macdonald, Att.
  James Leith, Att.
  John Wills, Att.


  John Finlay, Att.
  Duncan Cameron, Att.
  James Hughes, Att.
  Alex. McKay, Att.
  Hugh McGillies, Att.
  Alex. Henry, Jr., Att.
  John McGillivray, Att.
  James McKenzie, Att.
  Simon Fraser, Att.
  John D. Campbell, Att.
  D. Thompson, Att.
  John Thompson, Att.
  John Gregory.
  Wm. McGillivray.
  Duncan McGillivray, Att.
  Wm. Hallowell.
  Rod. McKenzie.
  Angus Shaw, Att.
  Dl. McKenzie, Att.
  Wm. McKay, Att.
  John McDonald, Att.
  Donald McTavish, Att.
  John McDonnell, Att.
  Arch. N. McLeod, Att.
  Alex. McDougall, Att.
  Chas. Chaboillez, Att.
  John Sayer, Att.
  Peter Grant, Att.
  Alex. Fraser, Att.
  Æneas Cameron, Att.

Anyone acquainted in the slightest degree with the early history of
Canada will see in these lists the names of legislative councillors,
members of Assembly, leaders in society, as well as of those who, in
the twenty years following the signing of this agreement, by deeds of
daring, exploration, and discovery, made the name of the North-West
Company illustrious. These names represent likewise those who carried
on that wearisome and disastrous conflict with the Hudson's Bay Company
which in time would have ruined both Companies but for the happy union
which took place, when the resources of each were well-nigh exhausted.



     New route to Kaministiquia--Vivid sketch of Fort
     William--"Cantine Salope"--Lively Christmas week--The feasting
     partners--Ex-Governor Masson's good work--Four great Mackenzies--A
     literary bourgeois--Three handsome demoiselles--"The man in the
     moon"--Story of "Bras Croche"--Around Cape Horn--Astoria taken
     over--A hot-headed trader--Sad case of "Little Labrie"--Punch on
     New Year's Day--The heart of a "Vacher."

The union of the opposing companies from Montreal led to a great
development of trade, and, as we have already seen, to important schemes
of exploration.

Roderick McKenzie, the cousin of Sir Alexander, in coming down from
Rainy Lake to Grand Portage, heard of a new route to Kaministiquia.
We have already seen that Umfreville had found out a circuitous
passage from Nepigon to Winnipeg River, but this had been considered
impracticable by the fur-traders.

Accordingly, when the treaty of amity and commerce made it certain that
Grand Portage had to be given up, it was regarded as a great matter
when the route to Kaministiquia became known. This was discovered by
Mr. Roderick McKenzie quite by accident. When coming, in 1797, to
Canada on leave of absence, this trader was told by an Indian family
near Rainy Lake that a little farther north there was a good route for
large canoes, which was formerly used by the whites in their trading
expeditions. Taking an Indian with him, McKenzie followed this course,
which brought him out at the mouth of the Kaministiquia. This proved to
be the old French route, for all along it traces were found of their
former establishments. Strange that a route at one time so well known
should be completely forgotten in forty years.

In the year 1800 the North-West Company built a fort, called the New
Fort, at the mouth of the Kaministiquia, and, abandoning Grand Portage,
moved their headquarters to this point in 1803. In the year after the
union of the North-West and X Y Companies the name Fort William was
given to this establishment, in honour of the Hon. William McGillivray,
who had become the person of greatest distinction in the united
North-West Company.

As giving us a glimpse of the life of "the lords of the lakes and
forests," which was led at Fort William, we have a good sketch written
by a trader, Gabriel Franchère, who was a French Canadian of respectable
family and began life in a business place in Montreal. At this stage,
says a local writer, "the fur trade was at its apogee," and Franchère
was engaged by the Astor Company and went to Astoria. Returning over the
mountains, he passed Fort William. His book, written in French, has been
translated into English, and is creditable to the writer, who died as
late as 1856 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Franchère says of Fort William, rather inaccurately, that it was built
in 1805. This lively writer was much impressed by the trade carried on
at this point, and gives the following vivid description:--

"Fort William has really the appearance of a fort from the palisade
fifteen feet high, and also that of a pretty village from the number of
buildings it encloses. In the middle of a spacious square stands a large
building, elegantly built, though of wood, the middle door of which is
raised five feet above the ground plot, and in the front of which runs
a long gallery. In the centre of this building is a room about sixty
feet long and thirty wide, decorated with several paintings, and some
portraits in crayon of a number of the partners of the Company. It is in
this room that the agents, the clerks, and the interpreters take their
meals at different tables. At each extremity of the room are two small
apartments for the partners."

"The back part of the house is occupied by the kitchen and sleeping
apartments of the domestics. On each side of this building there is
another of the same size, but lower; these are divided lengthwise by a
corridor, and contain each twelve pretty sleeping-rooms. One of these
houses is intended for the partners, the other for the clerks.

"On the east side of the Fort there is another house intended for the
same purpose, and a large building in which furs are examined and where
they are put up in tight bales by means of a press. Behind, and still on
the same side, are found the lodges of the guides, another building for
furs, and a powder magazine. This last building is of grey stone, and
roofed in with tin. In the corner stands a kind of bastion or point of

"On the west side is seen a range of buildings, some of which serve
for stores and others for shops. There is one for dressing out the
employés; one for fitting out canoes; one in which merchandise is
retailed; another where strong drink, bread, lard, butter, and cheese
are sold, and where refreshments are given out to arriving voyageurs.
This refreshment consists of a white loaf, a half pound of butter, and a
quart of rum. The voyageurs give to this liquor store the name 'Cantine

"Behind is found still another row of buildings, one of which is used
as an office or counting-house, a pretty square building well lighted;
another serves as a store; and a third as a prison. The voyageurs give
to the last the name 'Pot au beurre.' At the south-east corner is a
stone shed roofed with tin. Farther back are the workshops of the
carpenters, tinsmiths, blacksmiths, and their spacious courts or sheds
for sheltering the canoes, repairing them, and constructing new ones.

"Near the gate of the Fort, which is to the south, are the
dwelling-houses of the surgeon and resident clerk. Over the entrance
gate a kind of guard-house has been built. As the river is deep enough
at its entrance, the Company has had quays built along the Fort as a
landing-place for the schooners kept on Lake Superior for transporting
peltries, merchandise, and provisions from Fort William to Sault Ste.
Marie, and _vice versa_.

"There are also on the other side of the river a number of houses, all
inhabited by old French-Canadian voyageurs, worn out in the service of
the North-West Company, without having become richer by it. Fort William
is the principal factory of the North-West Company in the interior and
a general rendezvous of the partners. The agents of Montreal and the
proprietors wintering in the north nearly all assemble here every summer
and receive the returns, form expeditions, and discuss the interests of
their commerce.

"The employés wintering in the north spend also a portion of the summer
at Fort William. They form a great encampment to the west, outside
the palisades. Those who are only engaged at Montreal to go to Fort
William or to Rainy Lake, and who do not winter in the North, occupy
another space on the east side. The former give to the latter the name
'mangeurs de lard.' A remarkable difference is observed between the two
camps, which are composed of three or four hundred men each. That of the
'mangeurs de lard' is always very dirty and that of the winterers neat
and clean."

But the fur-traders were by no means merely business men. Perhaps never
were there assemblages of men who feasted more heartily when the work
was done. The Christmas week was a holiday, and sometimes the jollity
went to a considerable excess, which was entirely to be expected when
the hard life of the voyage was taken into consideration. Whether at
Fort William, or in the North-West Company's house in St. Gabriel
Street, Montreal, or in later day at Lachine, the festive gatherings
of the Nor'-Westers were characterized by extravagance and often by
hilarious mirth. The luxuries of the East and West were gathered for
these occasions, and offerings to Bacchus were neither of poor quality
nor limited in extent. With Scotch story and Jacobite song, intermingled
with "La Claire Fontaine" or "Malbrouck s'en va," those lively songs of
French Canada, the hours of evening and night passed merrily away.

At times when they had been feasting long into the morning, the traders
and clerks would sit down upon the feast-room floor, when one would
take the tongs, another the shovel, another the poker, and so on.
They would arrange themselves in regular order, as in a boat, and,
vigorously rowing, sing a song of the voyage; and loud and long till
the early streaks of the east were seen would the rout continue. When
the merriment reached such a height as this, ceremony was relaxed, and
voyageurs, servants, and attendants were admitted to witness the wild
carouse of the wine-heated partners.

We are fortunate in having the daily life of the fur-traders from the
Lower St. Lawrence to the very shores of the Pacific Ocean pictured for
us by the partners in the "Journals" they have left behind them. Just as
the daily records of the monks and others, dreary and uninteresting as
many of them at times are, commemorated the events of their time in the
"Saxon Chronicle" and gave the material for history, so the journals of
the bourgeois, often left unpublished for a generation or two, and the
works of some of those who had influence and literary ability enough to
issue their stories in the form of books, supply us with the material
for reproducing their times. From such sources we intend to give a few
sketches of the life of that time.

We desire to express the greatest appreciation of the work of
ex-Governor Masson, who is related to the McKenzie and Chaboillez
families of that period, and who has published no less than fourteen
journals, sketches of the time; of the painstaking writing of an
American officer, Dr. Coues, who has with great care and success edited
the journals of Alexander Henry, Jr., and such remains as he could
obtain of David Thompson, thus supplementing the publication by Charles
Lindsey, of Toronto, of an account of Thompson. We acknowledge also the
patient collection of material by Tassé in his "Canadiens de L'Ouest,"
as well as the interesting journals of Harmon and others, which have
done us good service.


The name of McKenzie (Hon. Roderick McKenzie) was one to conjure by
among the fur-traders. From the fact that there were so many well-known
partners and clerks of this name arose the custom, very common in the
Highland communities, of giving nicknames to distinguish them. Four of
the McKenzies were "Le Rouge," "Le Blanc," "Le Borgne" (one-eyed), and
"Le Picoté" (pock-marked). Sir Alexander was the most notable, and after
him his cousin, the Hon. Roderick, of whom we write.

This distinguished man came out as a Highland laddie from Scotland
in 1784. He at once entered the service of the fur company, and made
his first journey to the North-West in the next year. His voyage from
Ste. Anne, on Montreal Island, up the fur-traders' route, was taken in
Gregory McLeod & Co.'s service. At Grand Portage McKenzie was initiated
into the mysteries of the partners. Pushed into the North-West, he soon
became prominent, and built the most notable post of the upper country,
Fort Chipewyan.

On his marriage he became allied to a number of the magnates of the
fur company. His wife belonged to the popular family of Chaboillez,
two other daughters of which were married, one to the well-known
Surveyor-General of Lower Canada, Joseph Bouchette, and another to Simon
McTavish, "Le Marquis."

Roderick McKenzie was a man of some literary ability and taste. He
proposed at one time writing a history of the Indians of the North-West
and also of the North-West Company. In order to do this, he sent
circulars to leading traders, and thus receiving a number of journals,
laid the foundation of the literary store from which ex-Governor Masson
prepared his book on the bourgeois.

Between him and his cousin, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, an extensive
correspondence was kept up. Extracts from the letters of the
distinguished partner form the burden of the "Reminiscences" published
by Masson. Many of the facts have been referred to in our sketch of Sir
Alexander Mackenzie's voyages.

For eight long years Roderick McKenzie remained in the Indian country,
and came to Canada in 1797. Some two years afterward Sir Alexander
Mackenzie left the old Company and headed the X Y Company. At that
time Roderick McKenzie was chosen in the place of his cousin in the
North-West Company, and this for several years caused a coolness between

His "Reminiscences" extend to 1829, at which time he was living in
Terrebonne, in Lower Canada. He became a member of the Legislative
Council in Lower Canada, and he has a number of distinguished
descendants. Roderick McKenzie closes his interesting "Reminiscences"
with an elaborate and valuable list of the proprietors, clerks,
interpreters, &c., of the North-West Company in 1799, giving their
distribution in the departments, and the salary paid each. It gives us a
picture of the magnitude of the operations of the North-West Company.


Few of the Nor'-Westers aimed at collecting and preserving the folk-lore
of the natives. At the request of Roderick McKenzie, George Keith,
a bourgeois who spent a great part of his life very far North, viz.
in the regions of Athabasca, Mackenzie River, and Great Bear Lake,
sent a series of letters extending from 1807 onward for ten years
embodying tales, descriptions, and the history of the Indian tribes
of his district. His first description is that of the Beaver Indians,
of whom he gives a vocabulary. He writes for us a number of tales of
the Beaver Indians, viz. "The Indian Hercules," "Two Lost Women," "The
Flood, a Tale of the Mackenzie River," and "The Man in the Moon." One
letter gives a good account of the social manners and customs of the
Beaver Indians, and another a somewhat complete description of the
Rocky Mountains and Mackenzie River country. Descriptions of the Filthy
Lake and Grand River Indians and the Long Arrowed Indians, with a few
more letters with reference to the fur trade, make up the interesting
collection. George Keith may be said to have wielded the "pen of a ready
writer." We give his story of


_A Tale, or Tradition, of the Beaver Indians._

"In the primitive ages of the world, there was a man and his wife who
had no children. The former was very singular in his manner of living.
Being an excellent hunter, he lived entirely upon the blood of the
animals he killed. This circumstance displeased his wife, who secretly
determined to play him a trick. Accordingly one day the husband went
out hunting, and left orders with his wife to boil some blood in a
kettle, so as to be ready for supper on his return. When the time of his
expected return was drawing nigh, his wife pierced a vein with an awl
in her left arm and drew a copious quantity of blood, which she mixed
with a greater quantity of the blood of a moose deer, that he should not
discover it, and prepared the whole for her husband's supper.

"Upon his return the blood was served up to him on a bark dish; but,
upon putting a spoonful to his mouth, he detected the malice of his
wife, and only saying that the blood did not smell good, threw the
kettle with the contents about her ears.

"Night coming on, the man went to bed and told his wife to observe
the moon about midnight. After the first nap, the woman, awaking, was
surprised to find that her husband was absent. She arose and made a
fire, and, lifting up her eyes to the moon, was astonished to see her
husband, with his dog and kettle, in the body of the moon, from which he
has never descended. She bitterly lamented her misfortunes during the
rest of her days, always attributing them to her malicious invention of
preparing her own blood for her husband's supper."


Among all the Nor'-Westers there was no one who had more of the Scottish
pride of family than John McDonald, of Garth, claiming as he did to
be descended from the lord of the isles. His father obtained him a
commission in the British army, but he could not pass the examination on
account of a blemish caused by an accident to his arm. The sobriquet,
"Bras Croche" clung to him all his life as a fur trader.

Commended to Simon McTavish, the young man became his favourite, and in
1791 started for the fur country. He was placed under the experienced
trader, Angus Shaw, and passed his first winter in the far-off Beaver
River, north of the Saskatchewan. Next winter he visited the Grand
Portage, and he tells us that for a couple of weeks he was feasting
on the best of everything and the best of fish. Returning to the
Saskatchewan, he took part in the building of Fort George on that river,
whence, after wintering, the usual summer journey was made to Grand
Portage. Here, he tells us, they "met the gentlemen from Montreal in
goodfellowship." This life continued till 1795.

He shows us the state of feeling between the Companies. "It may not be
out of the way to mention that on New Year's Day, during the customary
firing of musketry, one of our opponent's bullies purposely fired his
powder through my window. I, of course, got enraged, and challenged him
to single combat with our guns; this was a check upon him ever after."

Remaining in the same district, by the year 1800 he had, backed as he
was by powerful influence, his sister being married to Hon. William
MacGillivray, become a partner in the Company. Two years afterward he
speaks of old Cuthbert Grant coming to the district, but in the spring,
this officer being sick, McDonald fitted up a comfortable boat with an
awning, in which Grant went to the Kaministiquia, where he died.

In 1802, McDonald returned from Fort William and determined to build
another fort farther up the river to meet a new tribe, the Kootenays.
This was "Rocky Mountain House." Visiting Scotland in the year after,
he returned to be dispatched in 1804 to English River, where he
was in competition with a Hudson's Bay Company trader. In the next
year he went back to the Saskatchewan, saying that, although a very
dangerous department, he preferred it. Going up the south branch of the
Saskatchewan, he erected the "New Chesterfield House" at the mouth of
the Red Deer River, and there met again a detachment of Hudson's Bay
Company people.

In 1806 he, being unwell, spent the year chiefly in Montreal, after
which he was appointed to the less exacting field of Red River. One
interesting note is given us as to the Red River forts. He says, "I
established a fort at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers and
called it 'Gibraltar,' though there was not a rock or a stone within
three miles." As we shall see afterwards, the building of this fort,
which was on the site of the city of Winnipeg, had taken place in the
year preceding.

With his customary energy in erecting forts, he built one a distance
up the Qu'Appelle River, probably Fort Espérance. While down at Fort
William in the spring, the news came to him that David Thompson was
surrounded in the Rocky Mountains by Blackfoot war parties. McDonald
volunteered to go to the rescue, and with thirty chosen men, after many
dangers and hardships, reached Thompson in the land of the Kootenays.

McDonald was one of the traders selected to go to Britain and thence by
the ship _Isaac Todd_ to the mouth of the Columbia to meet the Astor Fur
Company. He started in company with Hon. Edward Ellice. At Rio Janeiro
McDonald shipped from the _Isaac Todd_ on board the frigate _Phoebe_. On
the west coast of South America they called at "Juan Fernandez, Robinson
Crusoe's Island." They reached the Columbia on November 30th, 1813, and
in company with trader McDougall took over Astoria in King George's
name, McDonald becoming senior partner at Astoria.

In April, 1814, McDonald left for home across the mountains, by way of
the Saskatchewan, and in due time arrived at Fort William. He came to
Sault Ste. Marie to find the fort built by the Americans, and reached
Montreal amid some dangers. The last adventure mentioned in his journal
was that of meeting in Terrebonne Lord Selkirk's party who were going to
the North-West to oppose the Nor'-Westers.

The veteran spent his last days in the County of Glengarry, Ontario, and
died in 1860, between eighty-nine and ninety years of age. His career
had been a most romantic one, and he was noted for his high spirit and
courage, as well as for his ceaseless energy as a trader.


James McKenzie, brother of Hon. Roderick McKenzie, was a graphic, though
somewhat irritable writer with a good style. He has left us "A Journal
from the Athabasca Country," a description of the King's posts on the
Lower St. Lawrence, with a journal of a jaunt through the King's posts.
This fur trader joined the North-West Company.

In 1799 he was at Fort Chipewyan. His descriptions are minute accounts
of his doings at his fort. He seems to have taken much interest in
his men, and he gives a pathetic account of one of these trappers
called "Little Labrie." Labrie had been for six days without food, and
was almost frozen to death. He says: "Little Labrie's feet are still
soaking in cold water, but retain their hardness. We watched him
all last night; he fainted often in the course of the night, but we
always brought him to life again by the help of mulled wine. Once in
particular, when he found himself very weak and sick, and thought he
was dying he said, 'Adieu; je m'en vais; tout mon bien à ceux qui ont
soin de moi.' 10th, about twelve o'clock, Labrie was freed from all his
agonies in this world." McKenzie evidently had a kind heart.

The candid writer gives us a picture of New Year's Day, January 1st,
1890. "This morning before daybreak, the men, according to custom,
fired two broadsides in honour of the New Year, and then came in to
be rewarded with rum, as usual. Some of them could hardly stand alone
before they went away; such was the effect of the juice of the grape
on their brains. After dinner, at which everyone helped themselves so
plentifully that nothing remained to the dogs, they had a bowl of punch.
The expenses of this day, with fourteen men and women, are: 61-1/2
fathoms Spencer twist (tobacco), 7 flagons rum, 1 ditto wine, 1 ham, a
skin's worth of dried meat, about 40 white fish, flour, sugar, &c."

McKenzie had many altercations in his trade, and seems to have been
of a violent temper. He found fault with one of the X Y people, named
Perroue, saying it was a shame for him to call those who came from
Scotland "vachers" (cow-boys). He said he did not call all, but a few of
them "vachers." "I desired him to name one in the North, and told him
that the one who served him as a clerk was a 'vacher,' and had the heart
of a 'vacher' since he remained with him."

McKenzie has frequent accounts of drunken brawls, from which it is
easy to be seen that this period of the opposition of the two Montreal
Companies was one of the most dissolute in the history of the fur
traders. The fur trader's violent temper often broke out against
employés and Indians alike. He had an ungovernable dislike to the
Indians, regarding them simply as the off-scourings of all things, and
for the voyageurs and workmen of his own Company the denunciations are
so strong that his violent language was regarded as "sound and fury,
signifying nothing."



     Harmon and his book--An honest man--"Straight as an
     arrow"--New views--An uncouth giant--"Gaelic, English, French, and
     Indian oaths"--McDonnell, "Le Prêtre"--St. Andrew's Day--"Fathoms
     of tobacco"--Down the Assiniboine--An entertaining journal--A good
     editor--A too frank trader--"Gun fired ten yards away"--Herds of
     buffalo--Packs and pemmican--"The fourth Gospel"--Drowning of
     Henry--"The weather cleared up"--Lost for forty days--"Cheepe,"
     the corpse--Larocque and the Mandans--McKenzie and his half-breed


To those interested in the period we are describing there is not a more
attractive character than Daniel Williams Harmon, a native of Vermont,
who entered the North-West Company's service in the year 1800, at the
age of 22. After a number of years spent in the far West, he brought
with him on a visit to New England the journal of his adventures, and
this was edited and published by a Puritan minister, Daniel Haskel, of
Andover, Massachusetts. Harmon and the book are both somewhat striking,
though possibly neither would draw forth universal admiration. The
youngest of his daughters was well known as a prominent citizen of
Ottawa, and had a marked reverence for the memory of her father.


Leaving Lachine in the service of McTavish, Frobisher & Co., the young
fur trader followed the usual route up the Ottawa and reached in due
course Grand Portage, which he called "the general rendezvous for the
fur traders." He thus describes the fort: "It is twenty-four rods by
thirty, is built on the margin of the Bay, at the foot of a hill or
mountain of considerable height. Within the fort there is a considerable
number of dwelling-houses, shops, and stores; the houses are surrounded
by palisades, which are about eighteen inches in diameter. The other
fort, which stands about 200 rods from this, belongs to the X Y Company.
It is only three years since they made an establishment here, and as yet
they have had but little success." Harmon was appointed to follow John
McDonald, of Garth, to the Upper Saskatchewan. On the way out, however,
Harmon was ordered to the Swan River district. Here he remained for four
years taking a lively interest in all the parts of a trader's life. He
was much on the Assiniboine, and passed the sites of Brandon, Portage la
Prairie, and Winnipeg of to-day.

In October, 1805, Harmon, having gone to the Saskatchewan, took as what
was called his "country wife" a French Canadian half-breed girl, aged
fourteen. He states that it was the custom of the country for the trader
to take a wife from the natives, live with her in the country, and then,
on leaving the country, place her and her children under the care of
an honest man and give a certain amount for her support. As a matter
of fact, Harmon, years after, on leaving the country, took his native
spouse with him, and on Lake Champlain some of his younger children were
born. There were fourteen children born to him, and his North-West wife
was to her last days a handsome woman, "as straight as an arrow."

During Harmon's time Athabasca had not only the X Y Company, but also
a number of forts of the Hudson's Bay Company. Cumberland House was
the next place of residence of the fur trader, and at this point the
Hudson's Bay Company house was in charge of Peter Fidler. Harmon's
journal continues with most interesting details of the fur trade, which
have the charm of liveliness and novelty. Allusions are constantly made
to the leading traders, McDonald, Fraser, Thompson, Quesnel, Stuart,
and others known to us in our researches. In the course of time (1810)
Harmon found his way over the Rocky Mountain portage and pursued the
fur trade in McLeod Lake Fort and Stuart's Lake in New Caledonia, and
here we find a fort called, after him, Harmon's Fort. His description
of the Indians is always graphic, giving many striking customs of the
aborigines. About the end of 1813 Harmon's journal is taken up with
serious religious reflections. He had been troubled with doubts as to
the reality of Christianity. But after reading the Scriptures and such
books as he could obtain, he tells us that a new view of things was his,
and that his future life became more consistent and useful. He records
us a series of the resolutions which he adopted, and they certainly
indicate a high ideal on his part.

In 1816 he had really become habituated to the upper country. He gives
us a glimpse of his family:--

"I now pass a short time every day, very pleasantly, in teaching my
little daughter Polly to read and spell words in the English language,
in which she makes good progress, though she knows not the meaning
of one of them. In conversing with my children I use entirely the
Cree Indian language; with their mother I more frequently employ the
French. Her native tongue, however, is more familiar to her, which
is the reason why our children have been taught to speak that in
preference to the French language." In his journal, which at times
fully shows his introspections, he gives an account of the struggle in
his own mind about leaving his wife in the country, as was the custom
of too many of the clerks and partners. He had instructed her in the
principles of Christianity, and by these principles he was bound to her
for life. After eight and a half years spent on the west side of the
Rocky Mountains, Harmon arrived at Fort William, 1819, having made a
journey of three thousand miles from his far-away post in New Caledonia.
Montreal was soon after reached, and the Journal comes to a close.


We have seen the energy and ability displayed by John McDonald, of
Garth, known as "Le Bras Croch." Another trader, John McDonald, is
described by Ross Cox, who spent his life largely in the Rocky Mountain
region. He was known as McDonald Grand. "He was 6 ft. 4 in. in height,
with broad shoulders, large bushy whiskers, and red hair, which he
allowed to grow for years without the use of scissors, and which
sometimes, falling over his face and shoulders, gave to his countenance
a wild and uncouth appearance." He had a most uncontrollable temper, and
in his rage would indulge in a wild medley of Gaelic, English, French,
and Indian oaths.

But a third John McDonnell was found among the fur traders. He was a
brother of Miles McDonnell, Lord Selkirk's first governor of the Red
River Settlement. John McDonnell was a rigid Roman Catholic, and was
known as "Le Prêtre" ("The Priest"), from the fact that on the voyage
through the fur country he always insisted on observing the Church
fasts along with his French Canadian employés. McDonnell, on leaving
the service of the North-West Company, retired to Point Fortune, on the
Ottawa, and there engaged in trade.

We have his journal for the years 1793-5, and it is an excellent example
of what a typical fur trader's journal would be. It is minute, accurate,
and very interesting. During this period he spent his time chiefly in
trading up and down the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. A few extracts will
show the interesting nature of his journal entries:--

_Fort Espérance, Oct. 18th, 1793._--Neil McKay set out to build and
winter at the Forks of the river (junction of the Qu'Appelle and
Assiniboine), alongside of Mr. Peter Grant, who has made his pitch about
seven leagues from here. Mr. N. McKay's effects were carried in two
boats, managed by five men each. Mr. C. Grant set out for his quarters
of River Tremblant, about thirty leagues from here. The dogs made a
woeful howling at all the departures.

_Oct. 19th._--Seventeen warriors came from the banks of the Missouri for
tobacco. They slept ten nights on their way, and are emissaries from a
party of Assiniboines who went to war upon the Sioux.

_Oct. 20th._--The warriors traded a few skins brought upon their backs
and went off ill pleased with their reception. After dark, the dogs kept
up a constant barking, which induced a belief that some of the warriors
were lurking about the fort for an opportunity to steal. I took a sword
and pistol and went to sleep in the store. Nothing took place.

_Oct. 31st._--Two of Mr. N. McKay's men came from the forts, supposing
this to be All Saints' Day. Raised a flag-staff poplar, fifty feet above
the ground.

_Nov. 23rd._--The men were in chase of a white buffalo all day, but
could not get within shot of him. Faignant killed two buffalo cows. A
mild day.

_Nov. 30th._--St. Andrew's Day. Hoisted the flag in honour of the
titulary saint of Scotland. A beautiful day. Expected Messrs. Peter
Grant and Neil McKay to dinner. They sent excuse by Bonneau.

_Dec. 2nd._--Sent Mr. Peter Grant a Town and Country magazine of 1790.
Poitras' wife made me nine pairs of shoes (moccasins).

_Jan. 1st, 1794._--Mr. Grant gave the men two gallons of rum and three
fathoms of tobacco, by the way of New Year's gift.

(It is interesting to follow McDonnell on one of his journeys down the

_May 1st._--Sent off the canoes early in the morning. Mr. Grant and I
set out about seven. Slept at the Forks of River Qu'Appelle.

_May 4th._--Killed four buffalo cows and two calves and camped below the
Fort of Mountain à La Bosse (near Virden), about two leagues.

_May 5th._--Arrived at Ange's River La Souris Fort (below Brandon).

_May 17th._--Passed Fort Des Trembles and Portage La Prairie.

_May 20th._--Arrived at the Forks Red River (present city of Winnipeg)
about noon.

_May 24th._--Arrived at the Lake (Winnipeg) at 10 a.m.

_May 27th._--Arrived at the Sieur's Fort (Fort Alexander at the mouth of
Winnipeg River).

McDonnell also gives in his journal a number of particulars about the
Cree and Assiniboine Indians, describing their religion, marriages,
dress, dances, and mourning. The reader is struck with the difference
in the recital by different traders of the lives lived by them. The
literary faculty is much more developed in some cases than in others,
and John McDonnell was evidently an observing and quick-witted man. He
belonged to a U. E. Loyalist Scottish family that took a good position
in the affairs of early Canada.


That the first trader of the North-West whom we have described,
Alexander Henry, should have been followed in the North-West fur trade
by his nephew, Alexander Henry, Jr., is in itself a thing of interest;
but that the younger Henry should have left us a most voluminous and
entertaining journal is a much greater matter.

The copy of this journal is in the Parliamentary Library at Ottawa,
and forms two large bound folio volumes of 1,642 pages. It is not
the original, but is a well-approved copy made in 1824 by George
Coventry, of Montreal. For many years this manuscript has been in the
Parliamentary Library, and extracts have been made and printed. Recently
an American writer, Dr. Coues, who has done good service in editing the
notable work of Lewis and Clark, and also that of Zebulon S. Pike, has
published a digest of Henry's journal and added to it very extensive
notes of great value. The greatest praise is due to this author for the
skill with which he has edited the journal, and all students of the
period are indebted to one so well fitted to accomplish the task.

The journal opens, in 1799, with Henry on the waters of a tributary
of Lake Manitoba, he having arrived from Grand Portage by the usual
fur traders' route. In this place he built a trading house and spent
his first winter. In the following year the trader is found on the Red
River very near the forty-ninth parallel of north latitude, and is
engaged in establishing a post at the mouth of the Pembina River, a
tributary of Red River. At this post Henry remains until 1808, going
hither and thither in trading expeditions, establishing new outposts,
counter-working the rival traders of the X Y Company, and paying his
visits from time to time to Grand Portage.

Henry's entries are made with singular clearness and realistic force.
He recites with the utmost frankness the details of drunken debauchery
among the Indians, the plots of one company to outdo the other in
trading with the Indians, and the tricks of trade so common at this
period in the fur trade.

A few examples of his graphic descriptions may be given. "At ten
o'clock I came to the point of wood in which the fort was built, and
just as I entered the gate at a gallop, to take the road that led to the
gate, a gun was fired about ten yards from me, apparently by a person
who lay in the long grass. My horse was startled and jumped on one side,
snorting and prancing; but I kept my seat, calling out, 'Who is there?'
No answer was returned. I instantly took my gun from my belt, and cocked
her to fire, forgetting she was not loaded and I had no ammunition. I
could still see the person running in the grass, and was disappointed
in not having a shot at him. I again called out, 'Who is there?' 'C'est
moi, bourgeois.' It proved to be one of my men, Charbonneau. I was vexed
with him for causing me such consternation."


"_February 28th, 1801._--Wolves and crows are very numerous, feeding on
the buffalo carcasses that lie in every direction. I shot two buffalo
cows, a calf, and two bulls, and got home after dark. I was choking
with thirst, having chased the buffalo on snow-shoes in the heat of the
day, when the snow so adheres that one is scarcely able to raise the
feet. A draught of water was the sweetest beverage I ever tasted. An
Indian brought in a calf of this year, which he found dead. It was well
grown, and must have perished last night in the snow. This was thought
extraordinary; they say it denotes an early spring.

"_March 5th._--The buffalo have for some time been wandering in every
direction. My men have raised and put their traps in order for the
spring hunt, as the raccoons begin to come out of their winter quarters
in the daytime, though they retire to the hollow trees at night. On the
8th it rained for four hours; fresh meat thawed. On the 9th we saw the
first spring bird. Bald eagles we have seen the whole winter, but now
they are numerous, feeding on the buffalo carcasses."

During the Red River period Henry made a notable journey in 1806 across
the plains to the Mandans on the Missouri. Two years afterward he bids
farewell to Red River and the Assiniboine, and goes to carry on trade in
the Saskatchewan. While on the Saskatchewan, which was for three years,
he was in charge of important forts, viz. Fort Vermilion, Terre Blanche,
and the Rocky Mountain House. His energy and acquaintance with the
prairie were well shown in his exploration of this great region, and the
long journeys willingly undertaken by him. His account of the western
prairies, especially of the Assiniboines, is complete and trustworthy.
In fact, he rejoices in supplying us with the details of their lives and
manners which we might well be spared.

A gap of two years from 1811 is found in Henry's journal, but it is
resumed in 1813, the year in which he crosses the Rocky Mountains and
is found in the party sent by the North-West Company to check the
encroachments on the Columbia of the Astor Fur Company. His account
of the voyage on the Pacific is regarded as valuable, and Dr. Coues
says somewhat quaintly: "His work is so important a concordance that
if Franchère, Cox, and Ross be regarded as the synoptical writers of
Astoria, then Henry furnishes the fourth Gospel."

After the surrender of Astoria to the North-West Company and its
occupation by the British, some of the Nor'-Westers returned. John
McDonald, of Garth, as we have seen, crossed the mountains. In his
journal occurs a significant entry: "Mr. la Rogue brings the melancholy
intelligence that Messrs. D. McTavish, Alexander Henry, and five sailors
were drowned on May 22nd last, in going out in a boat from Fort George
to the vessel called the _Isaac Todd_." Ross Cox gives a circumstantial
account of this sad accident, though, strange to say, he does not
mention the name of Henry, while giving that of D. McTavish.

It is somewhat startling to us to find that Henry continued his journal
up to the very day before his death, his last sentence being, "The
weather cleared up."


Lying before the writer is the copy of a letter of John Pritchard, of
the X Y Company, written in 1805, giving an account of a forty days'
adventure of a most thrilling kind. Pritchard was in charge of the X Y
Fort at the mouth of the Souris River on the Assiniboine. He had on June
10th gone with one of the clerks up the River Assiniboine, intending
to reach Qu'Appelle Fort, a distance of 120 miles. All went well till
Montagne à la Bosse was reached, where there was a trading house. Going
westward, the two traders were separated in looking for the horses.
Pritchard lit fires for two days, but could attract no attention. Then
he realized that he was lost. Misled by the belts of timber along the
different streams, he went along the Pipestone, thinking he was going
towards the Assiniboine. In this he was mistaken. Painfully he crept
along the river, his strength having nearly gone. Living on frogs,
two hawks, and a few other birds, he says at the end of ten days, "I
perceived my body completely wasted. Nothing was left me but my bones,
covered with a skin thinner than paper. I was perfectly naked, my
clothes having been worn in making shoes, with which I protected my
bruised and bleeding feet."

Some days after, Pritchard found a nest of small eggs and lived on
them. He says, "How mortifying to me to see the buffalo quenching their
thirst in every lake near to which I slept, and geese and swans in
abundance, whilst I was dying of hunger in this land of plenty, for want
of wherewith to kill." After trying to make a hook and line to fish, and
failing; after being tempted to lie down and give up life, he caught a
hen grouse, which greatly strengthened him, as he cooked and ate it. He
had now crossed the Souris River, thinking it to be the Assiniboine, and
came upon a great plain where the prairie turnip (Psoralea esculenta)
grew plentifully. Pushing southward, being sustained by the bulbs of
this "pomme blanche," as it is called by the French voyageurs, Pritchard
came at length to Whitewater Lake, near Turtle Mountain, and here found
two vacant wintering houses of the fur traders. He now was able to
identify his locality and to estimate that he was sixty miles directly
south of his trading post. His feet, pierced by the spear grass (Stipa
spartea), were now in a dreadful condition. He found a pair of old shoes
in the vacant fort and several pairs of socks.

He determined to move northward to his fort. Soon he was met by a band
of Indians, who were alarmed at his worn appearance. The natives took
good care of him and carried him, at times unconscious, to his fort,
which he reached after an absence of forty days. He says, "Picture to
yourself a man whose bones are scraped, not an atom of flesh remaining,
then over these bones a loose skin, fine as the bladder of an animal; a
beard of forty days' growth, his hair full of filth and scabs. You will
then have some idea of what I was." The Hudson's Bay Company officer,
McKay, from the neighbouring fort, was exceedingly kind and supplied his
every want.

The Cree Indians after this adventure called Pritchard the Manitou
or Great Spirit. The Assiniboines called him Cheepe--or the corpse,
referring to his wan appearance. For weeks after his return the
miserable trader was unable to move about, but in time recovered, and
lived to a good old age on the banks of the Red River.

To the last day of his life he referred to his great deliverance, and
was thoroughly of the opinion that his preservation was miraculous.


We are fortunate in having two very good journals of journeys made in
the early years of the century from the forts at the junction of the
Souris and Assiniboine River to the Missouri River. As was described in
the case of David Thompson, this was a long and tedious journey, and yet
it was at one time within the plans of the North-West Company to carry
their trade thither. Few of the French Canadian gentlemen entered into
the North-West Company. One of these, who became noted as an Indian
trader, was François Antoine Larocque, brother-in-law of Quesnel, the
companion of Simon Fraser. Of the same rank as himself, and associated
with him, was a trader, Charles McKenzie, who entered the North-West
Company as a clerk in 1803.

The expedition to the Mandans under these gentlemen, left Fort
Assiniboine on November 11th, 1804, a party in all of seven, and
provided with horses, five of which carried merchandise for trade. After
the usual incidents of this trying journey, the Missouri was reached.

The notable event of this journey was the meeting with the American
expedition of Lewis and Clark, then on its way to cross overland to
the Pacific Ocean. Larocque in his journal gives information about this
expedition. Leaving Philadelphia in 1803, the expedition, consisting of
upward of forty men, had taken till October to reach the Mandans on the
Missouri. The purposes of the expedition of Lewis and Clark were:--

(1) To explore the territory towards the Pacific and settle the boundary
line between the British and American territories.

(2) To quiet the Indians of the Missouri by conference and the
bestowment of gifts.

Larocque was somewhat annoyed by the message given him by Lewis and
Clark, that no flags or medals could be given by the North-West Company
to the Indians in the Missouri, inasmuch as they were American Indians.
Larocque had some amusement at the continual announcement by these
leaders that the Indians would be protected so long as they should
behave as dutiful children to the great father, the President of the
United States. In the spring the party returned, after wintering on
the Missouri. In 1805, during the summer, another expedition went
to the Missouri; in 1806, Charles McKenzie went in February to the
Mandans, and, returning, made a second journey in the same year to the
Missouri. The account given by McKenzie of the journeys of 1804-6 is an
exceedingly well written one, for this leader was fond of study, and, we
are told, delighted especially in the history of his native land, the
highlands of Scotland.

Charles McKenzie had married an Indian woman, and became thoroughly
identified with the North-West. He was fond of his native children, and
stood up for their recognition on the same plane as the white children.
After the union of the North-West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company,
the English influence largely prevailed. Thinking that his son, who was
well educated at the Red River Seminary, was not sufficiently recognized
by the Company, McKenzie wrote bitterly, "It appears the present concern
has stamped the Cain mark upon all born in this country. Neither
education nor abilities serve them. The Honourable Company are unwilling
to take natives, even as apprenticed clerks, and the favoured few they
do take can never aspire to a higher status, be their education and
capacity what they may."

McKenzie continued the fur trade until 1846, when he retired and settled
on the Red River. His son, Hector McKenzie, now dead, was well known on
the Red River, and accompanied one of the explorations to the far north.

Larocque did not continue long in the fur trade, but went to Montreal
and embarked in business, in which he was very unsuccessful. He spent
the last years of his life in retirement and close study, and died in
the Grey nunnery in a Lower Canadian parish.



     Dashing French trader--"The country of fashion"--An air of
     great superiority--The road is that of heaven--Enough to intimidate
     a Cæsar--"The Bear" and the "Little Branch"--Yet more rum--A
     great Irishman--"In the wigwam of Wabogish dwelt his beautiful
     daughter"--Wedge of gold--Johnston and Henry Schoolcraft--Duncan
     Cameron on Lake Superior--His views of trade--Peter Grant, the
     ready writer--Paddling the canoe--Indian folk-lore--Chippewa
     burials--Remarkable men and great financiers, marvellous explorers,
     facile traders.


A gay and intelligent French lad, taken with the desire of leading the
life of the traders in the "upper country" (_pays d'en haut_), at the
age of fifteen deserted school and entered the North-West Company. In
1796, at the age of twenty, he was promoted to a clerkship and sent to
a post in the upper part of the Red River country. On account of his
inferior education he was never advanced to the charge of a post in
the Company's service, but he was always noted for his courage and the
great energy displayed by him in action. In 1804 Malhiot was sent to
Wisconsin, where he carried on trade.

For the North-West Company there he built a fort and waged a vigorous
warfare with the other traders, strong drink being one of the most ready
weapons in the contest. In 1801 the trader married after the "country
fashion" (_à la façon du pays_), i.e. as we have explained, he had taken
an Indian woman to be his wife, with the understanding that when he
retired from the fur trade, she should be left provided for as to her
living, but be free to marry another.

Malhiot tired of the fur trade in 1807 and returned to Lower Canada,
where he lived till his death. Malhiot's Indian wife was afterwards
twice married, and one of her sons by the third marriage became a member
of the Legislature in Lower Canada. A brother of Malhiot's became
a colonel in the British army in India, and another brother was an
influential man in his native province.

Few traders had more adventures than this French Canadian. Stationed
west of Lake Superior, at Lac du Flambeau, Malhiot found himself
surrounded by men of the X Y Company, and he assumed an air of great
superiority in his dealings with the Indians. Two of his companions
introduced him to the savages as the brother of William McGillivray, the
head of the North-West Company. He says, "This thing has produced a very
good effect up to the present, for they never name me otherwise than as
their 'father.' I am glad to believe that they will respect me more than
they otherwise would have done, and will do themselves the honour of
trading with me this winter."

Speaking of the rough country through which he was passing, Malhiot
says, "Of all the passages and places that I have been able to see
during the thirteen years in which I travelled, this is the most
frightful and unattractive. The road of the portage is truly that of
heaven, for it is strait, full of obstacles, slippery places, thorns,
and bogs. The men who pass it loaded, and who are obliged to carry over
it bales, certainly deserve the name of 'men.'

"This villainous portage is only inhabited by owls, because no other
animal could find its living there, and the cries of these solitary
birds are enough to frighten an angel and to intimidate a Cæsar."

Malhiot maintained his dignified attitude to the Indians and held great
conferences with the chiefs, always with an eye to the improvement of
trade. To one he says:--

"MY FATHER,--It is with great joy that I smoke in thy pipe of peace and
that I receive thy word. Our chief trader at Kaministiquia will accept
it, I trust, this spring, with satisfaction, and he will send thee a
mark of his friendship, if thou dost continue to do well. So I take
courage! Only be as one, and look at the fort of the X Y from a distance
if thou dost wish to attain to what thou desirest."

In April, 1805, the trader says, "My people have finished building my
fort, and it is the prettiest of any in the Indian country. Long live
the North-West Company! Honour to Malhiot!"

Malhiot gives a very sad picture of the degeneracy of the trade at this
time, produced by the use of strong drink in gaining the friendship of
the Indians. A single example may suffice to show the state of affairs.

_April 26th._--"The son of 'Whetstone,' brother-in-law of Chorette, came
here this evening and made me a present of one otter, 15 rats, and 12
lbs. of sugar, for which I gave him 4 pots of rum. He made them drunk
at Chorette's with the 'Indians,' the 'Bear,' and 'the Little Branch.'
When they were well intoxicated, they cleared the house, very nearly
killed Chorette, shot La Lancette, and broke open the store-house. They
carried away two otters, for which I gave them more rum this morning,
but without knowing they had been stolen. All this destruction occurred
because Chorette had promised them more rum, and that he had not any

Malhiot's journal closes with the statement that after a long journey
from the interior he and his party had camped in view of the island at
Grand Portage.


In the conflict of the North-West, X Y, and Hudson's Bay Companies,
it is interesting to come upon the life and writing of an Irishman, a
man of means, who, out of love for the wilds of Lake Superior, settled
down upon its shores and became a "free trader," as he was called. This
was John Johnston, who came to Montreal, enjoyed the friendship of Sir
Guy Carleton, the Governor of Canada, and hearing of the romantic life
of the fur traders, plunged into the interior, in 1792 settled at La
Pointe, on the south side of Lake Superior, and established himself as
an independent trader. A gentleman of birth and education, Johnston
seems to have possessed a refined and even religious spirit. Filled with
high thoughts inspired by a rocky and romantic island along the shore,
he named it "Contemplation Island." Determined to pass his life on the
rocky but picturesque shores of Lake Superior, Johnston became friendly
with the Indian people. The old story of love and marriage comes in
here also. The chief of the region was Wabogish, the "White Fisher,"
whose power extended as far west as the Mississippi. In the wigwam of
Wabogish dwelt his beautiful daughter. Her hand had been sought by many
young braves, but she had refused them all. The handsome, sprightly
Irishman had, however, gained her affections, and proposed to her father
for her. Writing long afterward he describes her as she was when he
first saw her, a year after his arrival on the shores of Lake Superior.
"Wabogish or the 'White Fisher,' the chief of La Pointe, made his sugar
on the skirts of a high mountain, four days' march from the entrance of
the river to the south-east. His eldest daughter, a girl of fourteen,
exceedingly handsome, with a cousin of hers who was two or three years
older, rambling one day up the eastern side of the mountain, came to a
perpendicular cliff exactly fronting the rising sun. Near the base of
the cliff they found a piece of yellow metal, as they called it, about
eighteen inches long, a foot broad, four inches thick and perfectly
smooth. It was so heavy that they could raise it only with great
difficulty. After examining it for some time, it occurred to the eldest
girl that it belonged to the 'Gitche Manitou,' 'The Great Spirit,' upon
which they abandoned the place with precipitation.

"As the Chippewas are not idolaters, it occurs to me that some of the
southern tribes must have emigrated thus far to the North, and that the
piece either of copper or of gold is part of an altar dedicated to the
sun. If my conjecture is right, the slab is more probably gold--as the
Mexicans have more of that metal than they have of copper."

The advances of Johnston toward chief Wabogish for marriage to his
daughter were for a time resisted by the forest magnate. Afraid of
the marriages made after the country fashion, he advised Johnston to
return to his native country for a time. If, after a sufficient absence,
his affection for his daughter should still remain strong, he would
consent to their marriage. Johnston returned to Ireland, disposed of his
property, and came back to Lake Superior to claim his bride.

Johnston settled at Sault Ste. Marie, where he had a "very considerable
establishment with extensive plantations of corn and vegetables, a
beautiful garden, a comfortable house, a good library, and carried on an
important trade."

During the war of 1814 he co-operated with the British commandant,
Colonel McDonald, in taking the island of Michilimackinac from the
Americans. While absent, the American expedition landed at Sault Ste.
Marie, and set fire to Johnston's house, stables, and other buildings,
and these were burnt to the ground, his wife and children viewing the
destruction of their home from the neighbouring woods.

Masson says: "A few years afterwards, Mr. Johnston once more visited
his native land, accompanied by his wife and his eldest daughter, a
young lady of surpassing beauty. Every inducement was offered to them to
remain in the old country, the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland having
even offered to adopt their daughter. They preferred, however, returning
to the shores of Lake Superior, where Miss Johnston was married to Mr.
Henry Schoolcraft, the United States Indian agent at Sault Ste. Marie,
and the distinguished author of the 'History of the Indian Tribes of
the United States.'" Mr. Johnston wrote "An Account of Lake Superior"
at the request of Roderick McKenzie. This we have, but it is chiefly a
geographical description of the greatest of American lakes. Johnston
died at Sault Ste. Marie in 1828.


A most daring and impulsive Celt was Duncan Cameron. He and his family
were Scottish U. E. Loyalists from the Mohawk River in New York State.
As a young man he entered the fur trade, and was despatched to the
region on Lake Superior to serve under Mr. Shaw, the father of Angus
Shaw, of whom we have already spoken. In 1786 Cameron became a clerk and
was placed in charge of the Nepigon district, an important field for his
energies. Though this region was a difficult one, yet by hard work he
made it remunerative to his Company. Speaking of his illness, caused by
exposure, he says, in writing a letter to his friend, "I can assure you
it is with great difficulty I can hold my pen, but I must tell you that
the X Y sends into the Nepigon this year; therefore, should I leave my
bones there, I shall go to winter."

In response to the application of Roderick McKenzie, Duncan Cameron
sent a description of the Nepigon district and a journal of one of his
journeys to the interior. From these we may give a few extracts. Passing
over his rather full and detailed account of Saulteaux Indians of this
region, we find that he speaks in a journal which is in a very damaged
condition, of his visit to Osnaburgh Fort, a Hudson's Bay Company fort
built in 1786, and of his decision to send a party to trade in the
interior. There is abundant evidence of the great part played by strong
drink at this time in the fur country.

"Cotton Shirt, a haughty Indian chief, has always been very faithful to
me these several years past. He is, without exception, the best hunter
in the whole department, and passes as having in consequence great
influence over me. One of his elder brothers spoke next and said that he
was now grown up to a man; that 'his fort,' as he calls Osnaburgh, was
too far off for the winter trade; that if I left anyone here, he would
come to them with winter skins; he could not live without getting drunk
three or four times at least, but that I must leave a clerk to deal with
him, as he was above trading with any young under-strappers. I told him
that if I consented to leave a person here, I would leave one that had
both sense and knowledge enough to know how to use him well, as also any
other great man. This Indian had been spoiled by the H. B. people at
Osnaburgh Fort, where we may consider him master. He had been invited to
dine there last spring."

"This great English partisan, a few weeks ago, had his nose bit off by
his son-in-law at the door of what he calls 'his fort.' He is not yet
cured, and says that a great man like him must not get angry or take any
revenge, especially when he stands in awe of the one who ill-used him,
for there is nothing an Indian will not do rather than admit himself to
be a coward."

"My canoe was very much hampered; I put a man and his wife in the small
canoe and embarked in the other small canoe with my guides, after giving
some liquor to the old man and his sons, who must remain here to-day
to try and pack all their three canoes. We went on as well as we could
against a cold head wind till the big canoe got on a stone which nearly
upset her and tore a piece two feet square out of her bottom. She filled
immediately and the men and goods were all in danger of going to the
bottom before they reached the shore; notwithstanding their efforts, she
sank in three feet of water. We hastened to get everything out of her,
but my sugar and their molasses were damaged, but worse than all, my
powder, which I immediately examined, was considerably damaged."

"Having decided to establish a fort, we all set to work; four men to
build, one to square boards for the doors, timber for the floors, and
shelves for the shops, the two others to attend the rest.... There are
now eight Indians here, all drunk and very troublesome to my neighbour,
who, I believe, is as drunk as themselves; they are all very civil to
me, and so they may, for I am giving them plenty to drink, without
getting anything from them as yet."

"This man (an Indian from Red Lake) tells me that the English (H.
B. Co.), the X Y, and Mr. Adhemar (a free trader) were striving who
would squander the most and thereby please the Indians best, but the
consequence will be that the Indians will get all they want for half the
value and laugh at them all, in the end. He told me that an Indian, who
I know very well to have no influence on anyone but himself, got five
kegs of mixed high wines to himself alone between the three houses and
took 200 skins credit; that all the Indians were fifteen days without
getting sober. I leave it to any rational being to judge what that
Indian's skins will cost."

"Another circumstance which will tend to injure the trade very much,
so long as we have the Hudson's Bay Company against us, is the premium
they allow every factor or master on whatever number of skins they
obtain. Those people do not care at what price they buy or whether their
employés gain by them, so long as they have their premium, which sets
them in opposition to one another almost as much as they are to us. The
honourable Hudson's Bay Company proprietors very little knew their own
interest when they first allowed this interest to their 'officers,'
as they call them, as it certainly had not the desired effect, for,
if it added some to their exertions, it led in a great degree to the
squandering of their goods, as they are in general both needy and


While many journals and sketches were forwarded to Mr. Roderick
McKenzie, none of them were of so high a character in completeness and
style as that of Mr. Peter Grant on the Saulteaux Indians. Peter Grant,
as quite a young man at the age of twenty, joined the North-West Company
in 1784. Seven years afterward he had become a partner, had charge of
Rainy Lake district, and afterward that of the Red River department. His
sketch of the Indians marks him as a keen observer and a facile writer.
Some of his descriptions are excellent:--

"The fruits found in this country are the wild plum, a small sort
of wild cherry, wild currants of different kinds, gooseberries,
strawberries, raspberries, brambleberries, blackberries, choke cherries,
wild grapes, sand cherries, a delicious fruit which grows on a small
shrub near sandy shores, and another blueberry, a fine fruit not larger
than a currant, tasting much like a pear and growing on a small tree
about the size of a willow. (No doubt the Saskatoon berry.--ED.) In
the swamp you find two kinds of cranberries. Hazel nuts, but of very
inferior quality, grow near the banks of the rivers and lakes. A kind of
wild rice grows spontaneously in the small muddy creeks and bays."

"The North-West Company's canoes, manned with five men, carry about
3,000 lbs.; they seldom draw more than eighteen inches of water and go
generally at the rate of six miles an hour in calm weather. When arrived
at a portage, the bowman instantly jumps in the water to prevent the
canoe from touching the bottom, while the others tie their slings to the
packages in the canoe and swing them on their backs to carry over the
portage. The bowman and the steersman carry their canoe, a duty from
which the middle men are exempt. The whole is conducted with astonishing
expedition, a necessary consequence of the enthusiasm which always
attends their long and perilous voyages. It is pleasing to see them,
when the weather is calm and serene, paddling in their canoes, singing
in chorus their simple, melodious strains, and keeping exact time with
their paddles, which effectually beguiles their labours. When they
arrive at a rapid, the guide or foreman's business is to explore the
waters previous to their running down with their canoes, and, according
to the height of the water, they either lighten the canoe by taking out
part of the cargo and carry it overland, or run down the whole load."

Speaking of the Saulteaux, Grant says, "The Saulteaux are, in general,
of the common stature, well proportioned, though inclining to a slender
make, which would indicate more agility than strength. Their complexion
is a whitish cast of the copper colour, their hair black, long,
straight, and of a very strong texture, the point of the nose rather
flat, and a certain fulness in the lips, but not sufficient to spoil
the appearance of the mouth. The teeth, of a beautiful ivory white, are
regular, well set, and seldom fail them even in the most advanced period
of life; their cheeks are high and rather prominent, their eyes black
and lively, their countenance is generally pleasant, and the symmetry
of their features is such as to constitute what can be called handsome

"Their passions, whether of a benevolent or mischievous tendency, are
always more violent than ours. I believe this has been found to be the
case with all barbarous nations who never cultivate the mind; hence the
cruelties imputed to savages, in general, towards their enemies. Though
these people cannot be acquitted from some degree of that ferocious
barbarity which characterizes the savages, they are, however, free
from that deliberate cruelty which has been so often imputed to other
barbarous natives. They are content to kill and scalp their enemy, and
never reserve a prisoner for the refined tortures of a lingering and
cruel death.

"The Saulteaux have, properly speaking, no regular system of government
and but a very imperfect idea of the different ranks of society so
absolutely necessary in all civilized countries. Their leading men
or chief magistrates are petty chiefs, whose dignity is hereditary,
but whose authority is confined within the narrow circle of their own
particular tribe or relatives. There are no established laws to enforce
obedience; all is voluntary, and yet, such is their confidence and
respect for their chiefs, that instances of mutiny or disobedience to
orders are very rare among them.

"As to religion, Gitche Manitou, or the 'Master of Life,' claims the
first rank in their devotion. To him they attribute the creation of the
heavens, of the waters, and of that portion of the earth beyond the
sea from which white people come. He is also the author of life and
death, taking pleasure in promoting the happiness of the virtuous, and
having, likewise, the power of punishing the wicked. Wiskendjac is next
in power. He is said to be the creator of all the Indian tribes, the
country they inhabit and all it contains. The last of their deities is
called Matchi-Manitou, or the 'Bad Spirit,' He is the author of evil,
but subject to the control of the Gitche Manitou. Though he is justly
held in great detestation, it is thought good policy to smooth his anger
by singing and beating the drum.

"When life is gone, the body of the dead is addressed by some friend of
the deceased in a long speech, in which he begs of him to take courage,
and pursue his journey to the Great Meadow, observing that all his
departed friends and relations are anxiously waiting to receive him, and
that his surviving friends will soon follow.

"The body is then decently dressed and wrapped in a new blanket, with
new shoes, garnished and painted with vermilion, on the feet. It is
kept one night in the lodge, and is next day buried in the earth. After
burial they either raise a pole of wood over the grave, or enclose it
with a fence. At the head of the grave a small post is erected, on
which they carve the particular mark of the tribe to whom the deceased
belonged. The bodies of some of their most celebrated chiefs are raised
upon a high scaffold, with flags flying, and the scalps of their
enemies. It is customary with their warriors, at the funeral of their
great men, to strike the post and relate all their martial achievements,
as they do in the war dance, and their funeral ceremonies generally
conclude by a feast round the grave."

Grant, in 1794, built the post on the Assiniboine at the mouth of Shell
River, and five years afterward was in charge of the fort on the Rainy
Lake. About the same time he erected a post, probably the first on the
Red River, in the neighbourhood of the present village of St. Vincent,
near 49° N. Lat., opposite Pembina. He seems to have been in the Indian
country in 1804, and, settling in Lower Canada, died at Lachine in 1848,
at the grand old age of eighty-four.

Thus have we sought to sketch, from their own writings, pictures of the
lords of the fur trade. They were a remarkable body of men. Great as
financiers, marvellous as explorers, facile as traders, brave in their
spirits, firm and yet tactful in their management of the Indians, and,
except during the short period from 1800-1804, anxious for the welfare
of the Red men. Looking back, we wonder at their daring and loyalty,
and can well say with Washington Irving, "The feudal state of Fort
William is at an end; its council chamber is silent and desolate; its
banquet-hall no longer echoes to the auld world ditty; the lords of the
lakes and forests have passed away."



     North-West and X Y Companies unite--Recalls the Homeric
     period--Feuds forgotten--Men perform prodigies--The new fort
     re-christened--Vessel from Michilimackinac--The old canal--Wills
     builds Fort Gibraltar--A lordly sway--The "Beaver Club"--Sumptuous
     table--Exclusive society--"Fortitude in Distress"--Political
     leaders in Lower Canada.

To the termination of the great conflict between the North-West and the
X Y Companies we have already referred. The death of Simon McTavish
removed a difficulty and served to unite the traders. The experience and
standing of the old Company and the zeal and vigour of the new combined
to inspire new hope.

Great plans were matured for meeting the opposition of the Hudson's Bay
Company and extending the trade of the Company. The explorations of
David Thompson and Simon Fraser, which, as we have seen, produced such
great results in New Caledonia, while planned before, were now carried
forward with renewed vigour, the enterprise of the Nor'-Westers being
the direct result of the union. The heroic deeds of these explorers
recall to us the adventurous times of the Homeric period, when men
performed prodigies and risked their lives for glory. The explanation of
this hearty co-operation was that the old and new Companies were very
closely allied. Brothers and cousins had been in opposite camps, not
because they disliked each other, but because their leaders could not
agree. Now the feuds were forgotten, and, with the enthusiasm of their
Celtic natures, they would attempt great things.

The "New Fort," as it had been called, at the mouth of the
Kaministiquia, was now re-christened, and the honoured name of the
chieftain McGillivray was given to this great depôt--Fort William.

It became a great trading centre, and the additions required to
accommodate the increased volume of business and the greater number of
employés, were cheerfully made by the united Company.

Standing within the great solitudes of Thunder Bay, Fort William became
as celebrated in the annals of the North-West Company, as York or Albany
had been in the history of the Hudson's Bay Company.

A vessel came up from Lake Erie, bringing supplies, and, calling at
Michilimackinac, reached the Sault Ste. Marie. Boats which had come down
the canal, built to avoid the St. Mary Rapids, here met this vessel.
From the St. Mary River up to Fort William a schooner carried cargoes,
and increased the profits of the trade, while it protected many from the
dangers of the route. The whole trade was systematized, and the trading
houses, duplicated as they had been at many points, were combined, and
the expenses thus greatly reduced.

As soon as the Company could fully lay its plans, it determined to take
hold in earnest of the Red River district. Accordingly we see that,
under instructions from John McDonald, of Garth, a bourgeois named John
Wills, who, we find, had been one of the partners of the X Y Company,
erected at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, on the point
of land, a fort called Fort Gibraltar. Wills was a year in building
it, having under him twenty men. The stockade of this fort was made
of "oak trees split in two." The wooden picketing was from twelve to
fifteen feet high. The following is a list of buildings enclosed in
it, with some of their dimensions. There were eight houses in all; the
residence of the bourgeois, sixty-four feet in length; two houses for
the servants, respectively thirty-six and twenty-eight feet long; one
store thirty-two feet long; a blacksmith's shop, stable, kitchen, and
an ice-house. On the top of the ice-house a watch-tower (guérite) was
built. John Wills continued to live in this fort up to the time of his
death a few years later. Such was the first building, so far as we know,
erected on the site of the City of the Plains, and which was followed
first by Fort Douglas and then by Fort Garry, the chief fort in the
interior of Rupert's Land.

It was to this period in the history of the United Company that
Washington Irving referred when he said: "The partners held a lordly
sway over the wintry lakes and boundless forests of the Canadas almost
equal to that of the East India Company over the voluptuous climes and
magnificent realms of the Orient."

Some years before this, a very select organization had been formed
among the fur traders in Montreal. It was known as the "Beaver Club."
The conditions of the membership were very strict. They were that the
candidate should have spent a period of service in the "upper country,"
and have obtained the unanimous vote of the members. The gatherings of
the Club were very notable. At their meetings they assembled to recall
the prowess of the old days, the dangers of the rapids, the miraculous
deliverances accomplished by their canoe men, the disastrous accidents
they had witnessed.

Their days of feasting were long remembered by the inhabitants of
Montreal after the club had passed away. The sumptuous table of the
Club was always open to those of rank or distinction who might visit
Montreal, and the approval of the Club gave the entry to the most
exclusive society of Montreal.

Still may be met with in Montreal pieces of silverware and glassware
which were formerly the property of the "Beaver Club," and even large
gold medals bearing the motto, "Fortitude in Distress," used by the
members of the Club on their days of celebration.

It was at this period that the power of the fur trading magnates seemed
to culminate, and their natural leadership of the French Canadians being
recognized in the fur trade, many of the partners became political
leaders in the affairs of Lower Canada. The very success of the new
Company, however, stirred up, as we shall see, opposition movements
of a much more serious kind than they had ever had to meet before.
Sir Alexander Mackenzie's book in 1801 had awakened much interest in
Britain and now stimulated the movement by Lord Selkirk which led to
the absorption of the North-West Company. The social and commercial
standing of the partners started a movement in the United States which
aimed at wresting from British hands the territory of New Caledonia,
which the energy of the North-West Company of explorers had taken
possession of for the British crown.

It will, however, be to the glory of the North-West Company that these
powerful opposition movements were mostly rendered efficient by the
employment of men whom the Nor'-Westers had trained; and the methods of
trade, borrowed from them by these opponents, were those continued in
the after conduct of the fur trade that grew up in Rupert's Land and the
Indian territories beyond.



     Old John Jacob Astor--American Fur Company--The Missouri
     Company--A line of posts--Approaches the Russians--Negotiates with
     Nor'-Westers--Fails--Four North-West officials join Astor--Songs of
     the voyageurs--True Britishers--Voyage of the _Tonquin_--Rollicking
     Nor'-Westers in Sandwich Islands--Astoria built--David Thompson
     appears--Terrible end of the _Tonquin_--Astor's overland
     expedition--Washington Irving's "Astoria, a romance"--The _Beaver_
     rounds the Cape--McDougall and his smallpox phial--The _Beaver_
     sails for Canton.

Among those who came to Montreal to trade with the Nor'-Westers and to
receive their hospitality was a German merchant of New York, named John
Jacob Astor. This man, who is the ancestor of the distinguished family
of Astors at the present time in New York, came over from London to the
New World and immediately began to trade in furs. For several years
Astor traded in Montreal, and shipped the furs purchased to London, as
there was a law against exporting from British possessions. After Jay's
treaty of amity and commerce (1794) this restriction was removed, and
Astor took Canadian furs to the United States, and even exported them to
China, where high prices ruled.

[Illustration: JOHANN JACOB ASTOR.]

While Astor's ambition led him to aim at controlling the fur trade in
the United States, the fact that the western posts, such as Detroit
and Michilimackinac, had not been surrendered to the United States
till after Jay's treaty, had allowed the British traders of these and
other posts of the West to strengthen themselves. Such daring traders
as Murdoch Cameron, Dickson, Fraser, and Rolette could not be easily
beaten on the ground where they were so familiar, and where they had
gained such an ascendancy over the Indians. The Mackinaw traders were
too strong for Astor, and the hope of overcoming them through the agency
of the "American Fur Company," which he had founded in 1809, had to be
given up by him. What could not be accomplished by force could, however,
be gained by negotiation, and so two years afterward, with the help of
certain partners from among the Nor'-Westers in Montreal, Astor bought
out the Mackinaw traders (1811), and established what was called the
"South-West Company."

During these same years, the St. Louis merchants organized a company
to trade upon the Missouri and Nebraska Rivers. This was known as the
Missouri Company, and with its 250 men it pushed its trade, until in
1808, one of its chief traders crossed the Rocky Mountains, and built
a fort on the western slope. This was, however, two years afterward
given up on account of the hostility of the natives. A short time
after this, the Company passed out of existence, leaving the field to
the enterprising merchant of New York, who, in 1810, organized his
well-known "Pacific Fur Company."

[Illustration: CASANOV. Trader and Chief.]

During these eventful years, the resourceful Astor was, with the full
knowledge of the American Government, steadily advancing toward gaining
a monopoly of the fur trade of the United States. Jonathan Carver, a
British officer, had, more than thirty years before this, in company
with a British Member of Parliament named Whitworth, planned a route
across the continent. Had not the American Revolution commenced they
would have built a fort at Lake Pepin in Minnesota, gone up a tributary
of the Mississippi to the West, till they could cross, as they thought
would be possible, to the Missouri, and ascending it have reached the
Rocky Mountain summit. At this point they expected to come upon a river,
which they called the Oregon, that would take them to the Pacific Ocean.

The plan projected by Carver was actually carried out by the well-known
explorers Lewis and Clark in 1804-6. Astor's penetrating mind now
saw the situation clearly. He would erect a line of trading posts up
the Missouri River and across the Rockies to the Columbia River on
the Pacific Coast and while those on the east of the Rockies would
be supplied from St. Louis, he would send ships to the mouth of the
Columbia, and provide for the posts on the Pacific slope from the
West. With great skill Astor made approaches to the Russian Fur Company
on the Pacific Coast, offering his ships to supply their forts with all
needed articles, and he thus established a good feeling between himself
and the Russians.

The only other element of danger to the mind of Astor was the opposition
of the North-West Company on the Pacific Coast. He knew that for years
the Montreal merchants had had their eye on the region that their
partner Sir Alexander Mackenzie, had discovered. Moreover, their agents,
Thompson, Fraser, Stuart, and Finlay the younger, were trading beyond
the summit of the Rockies in New Caledonia, but the fact that they were
farther north held out some hope to Astor that an arrangement might be
made with them. He accordingly broached the subject to the North-West
Company and proposed a combination with them similar to that in force
in the co-operation in the South-West Company, viz. that they should
take a one-third interest in the Pacific Fur Company. After certain
correspondence, the North-West Company declined the offer, no doubt
hoping to forestall Astor in his occupation of the Columbia. They then
gave orders to David Thompson to descend the Columbia, whose upper
waters he had already occupied, and he would have done this had not a
mutiny taken place among his men, which made his arrival at the mouth of
the Columbia a few months too late.

Astor's thorough acquaintance with the North-West Company and its
numerous employés stood him in good stead in his project of forming
a company. After full negotiations he secured the adhesion to his
scheme of a number of well-known Nor'-Westers. Prominent among these
was Alexander McKay, who was Sir Alexander Mackenzie's most trusted
associate in the great journey of 1793 to the Pacific Ocean. McKay
had become a partner of the North-West Company, and left it to join
the Pacific Fur Company. Most celebrated as being in charge of the
Astor enterprise on the coast was Duncan McDougall, who also left the
North-West Company to embark in Astor's undertaking. Two others, David
Stuart and his nephew Robert Stuart, made the four partners of the new
Company who were to embark from New York with the purpose of doubling
the Cape and reaching the mouth of the Columbia.

A company of clerks and _engagés_ had been obtained in Montreal, and
the party leaving Canada went in their great canoe up Lake Champlain,
took it over the portage to the Hudson, and descended that river to New
York. They transferred the picturesque scene so often witnessed on the
Ottawa to the sleepy banks of the Hudson River, and with emblems flying,
and singing songs of the voyageurs, surprised the spectators along the
banks. Arrived at New York the men with bravado expressed themselves as
ready to endure hardships. As Irving puts it, they declared "they could
live hard, lie hard, sleep hard, eat dogs--in short, endure anything."

But these partners and men had much love for their own country and
little regard to the new service into which desire for gain had led them
to embark. It was found out afterwards that two of the partners had
called upon the British Ambassador in New York, had revealed to him the
whole scheme of Mr. Astor, and enquired whether, as British subjects,
they might embark in the enterprise. The reply of the diplomat assured
them of their full liberty in the matter. Astor also required of the
employés that they should become naturalized citizens of the United
States. They professed to have gone through the ceremony required, but
it is contended that they never really did so.

The ship in which the party was to sail was the _Tonquin_, commanded by
a Captain Thorn, a somewhat stern officer, with whom the fur traders had
many conflicts on their outbound journey. The report having gone abroad
that a British cruiser from Halifax would come down upon the _Tonquin_
and arrest the Canadians on board her, led to the application being
made to the United States frigate _Constitution_ to give the vessel
protection. On September 10th, 1810, the _Tonquin_ with her convoy put
out and sailed for the Southern Main.

Notwithstanding the constant irritation between the captain and his
fur trading passengers, the vessel went bravely on her way. After
doubling Cape Horn on Christmas Day, they reached the Sandwich Islands
in February, and after paying visits of ceremony to the king, obtained
the necessary supplies of hogs, fruits, vegetables, and water from the
inhabitants, and also engaged some twenty-four of the islanders, or
Kanakas, as they are called, to go as employés to the Columbia.

Like a number of rollicking lads, the Nor'-Westers made very free
with the natives, to the disgust of Captain Thorn. He writes:--"They
sometimes dress in red coats and otherwise very fantastically, and
collecting a number of ignorant natives around them, tell them they are
the great chiefs of the North-West ... then dressing in Highland plaids
and kilts, and making bargains with the natives, with presents of rum,
wine, or anything that is at hand."

On February 28th the _Tonquin_ set sail from the Sandwich Islands.
The discontent broke out again, and the fur traders engaged in a mock
mutiny, which greatly alarmed the suspicious captain. They spoke to
each other in Gaelic, had long conversations, and the captain kept an
ever-watchful eye upon them; but on March 22nd they arrived at the mouth
of the Columbia River.

McKay and McDougall, as senior partners, disembarked, visited the
village of the Chinooks, and were warmly welcomed by Comcomly, the
chief of that tribe. The chief treated them hospitably and encouraged
their settling in his neighbourhood. Soon they had chosen a site for
their fort, and with busy hands they cut down trees, cleared away
thickets, and erected a residence, stone-house, and powder magazine,
which was not, however, at first surrounded with palisades. In honour
of the promoter of their enterprise, they very naturally called the new
settlement Astoria.

As soon as the new fort had assumed something like order, the _Tonquin_,
according to the original design, was despatched up the coast to trade
with the Indians for furs. Alexander McKay took charge of the trade, and
sought to make the most of the honest but crusty captain. The vessel
sailed on July 5th, 1811, on what proved to be a disastrous journey.

As soon as she was gone reports began to reach the traders at Astoria
that a body of white men were building a fort far up the Columbia.
This was serious news, for if true it meant that the supply of furs
looked for at Astoria would be cut off. An effort was made to find out
the truth of the rumour, without success, but immediately after came
definite information that the North-West Company agents were erecting
a post at Spokane. We have already seen that this was none other
than David Thompson, the emissary of the North-West Company, sent to
forestall the building of Astor's fort.

Though too late to fulfil his mission, on July 15th the doughty
astronomer and surveyor, in his canoe manned by eight men and having the
British ensign flying, stopped in front of the new fort. Thompson was
cordially received by McDougall, to the no small disgust of the other
employés of the Astor Company. After waiting for eight days, Thompson,
having received supplies and goods from McDougall, started on his return
journey. With him journeyed up the river David Stuart, who, with eight
men, was proceeding on a fur-trading expedition. Among his clerks was
Alexander Ross, who has left a veracious history of the "First Settlers
on the Oregon." Stuart had little confidence in Thompson, and by a
device succeeded in getting him to proceed on his journey and leave him
to choose his own site for a fort. Going up to within 140 miles of the
Spokane River, and at the junction of the Okanagan and Columbia, Stuart
erected a temporary fort to carry on his first season's trade.

In the meantime the _Tonquin_ had gone on her way up the coast. The
Indians were numerous, but were difficult to deal with, being impudent
and greedy. A number of them had come upon the deck of the _Tonquin_,
and Captain Thorn, being wearied with their slowness in bargaining and
fulness of wiles, had grown impatient with the chief and had violently
thrown him over the side of the ship. The Indians no doubt intended
to avenge this insult. Next morning early, a multitude of canoes came
about the _Tonquin_ and many savages clambered upon the deck. Suddenly
an attack was made upon the fur traders. Alexander McKay was one of the
first to fall, being knocked down by a war club. Captain Thorn fought
desperately, killing the young chief of the band, and many others, until
at last he was overcome by numbers. The remnant of the crew succeeded
in getting control of the ship and, by discharging some of the deck
guns, drove off the savages. Next morning the ship was all quiet as
the Indians came about her. The ship's clerk, Mr. Lewis, who had been
severely wounded, appeared on deck and invited them on board. Soon the
whole deck was crowded by the Indians, who thought they would secure a
prize. Suddenly a dreadful explosion took place. The gunpowder magazine
had blown up, and Lewis and upward of one hundred savages were hurled
into eternity. It was a fierce revenge! Four white men of the crew
who had escaped in a boat were captured and terribly tortured by the
maddened Indian survivors. An Indian interpreter alone was spared to
return to Astoria to relate the tale of treachery and blood.

Astor's plan involved, however, the sending of another expedition
overland to explore the country and lay out his projected chain of
forts. In charge of this party was William P. Hunt, of Trenton,
New Jersey, who had been selected by Astor, as being a native-born
American, to be next to himself in authority in the Company. Hunt had no
experience as a fur trader, but was a man of decision and perseverance.
With him was closely associated Donald McKenzie, who had been in the
service of the North-West Company, but had been induced to join in the
partnership with Astor.

Hunt and McKenzie arrived in Montreal on June 10th, 1811, and engaged a
number of voyageurs to accompany them. With these in a great canoe the
party left the church of La Bonne Ste. Anne, on Montreal Island, and
ascended the Ottawa. By the usual route Michilimackinac was reached, and
here again other members of the party were enlisted. The party was also
reinforced by the addition of a young Scotchman of energy and ability,
Ramsay Crooks, and with him an experienced and daring Missouri trader
named Robert McLellan. At Mackinaw as well as at Montreal the influence
of the North-West Company was so strong that men engaged for the journey
were as a rule those of the poorest quality. Thus were the difficulties
of the overland party increased by the Falstaffian rabble that attended
the well-chosen leaders.

The party left Mackinaw, crossed to the Mississippi, and reached St.
Louis in September.

At St. Louis the explorers came into touch with the Missouri Company, of
which we have spoken. The same hidden opposition that had met them in
Montreal and Mackinaw was here encountered. Nothing was said, but it
was difficult to get information, hard to induce voyageurs to Join them,
and delay after delay occurred. Near the end of October St. Louis was
left behind and the Missouri ascended for 450 miles to a fort Nodowa,
when the party determined to winter. During the winter Hunt returned to
St. Louis and endeavoured to enlist additional men for his expedition.
In this he still had the opposition of a Spaniard, Manuel de Lisa, who
was the leading spirit in the Missouri Company. After some difficulty
Hunt engaged an interpreter, Pierre Dorion, a drunken French half-breed,
who was, however, expert and even accomplished in his work.

A start was at last made in January, and Irving tells us of the
expedition meeting Daniel Boone, the famous old hunter of Kentucky, one
who gloried in keeping abreast of the farthest line of the frontier, a
trapper and hunter. The party went on its way ascending the river, and
was accompanied by the somewhat disagreeable companion Lisa. At length
they reached the country of the Anckaras, who, like the Parthians of
old, seemed to live on horseback. After a council meeting the distrust
of Lisa disappeared, and a bargain was struck between the Spaniard and
the explorer by which he would supply them with 130 horses and take
their boats in exchange. Leaving in August the party went westward,
keeping south at first to avoid the Blackfeet, and then, turning
northward till they reached an old trading post just beyond the summit.

The descent was now to be made to the coast, but none of them had the
slightest conception of the difficulties before them. They divided
themselves into four parties, under the four leaders, McKenzie,
McLellan, Hunt, and Crooks. The two former took the right bank, the two
latter the left bank of the river. For three weeks they followed the
rugged banks of this stream, which, from its fierceness, they spoke of
as the "Mad River." Their provisions soon became exhausted and they were
reduced to the dire necessity of eating the leather of their shoes.
After a separation of some days the plan was struck upon by Mr. Hunt
of gaining communication across the river by a boat covered with horse
skin. This failed, and the unfortunate voyageur attempting to cross in
it was drowned. After a time the Lewis River was reached. Trading off
their horses, McKenzie's party, which was on the right bank, obtained
canoes from the natives, and at length on January 18th, 1812, this party
reached Astoria. Ross Cox says: "Their concave cheeks, protuberant
bones, and tattered garments strongly indicated the dreadful extent
of their privations; but their health appeared uninjured and their
gastronomic powers unimpaired."

After the disaster of the horse-skin boat the two parties lost sight of
one another. Mr. Hunt had the easier bank of the river, and, falling in
with friendly Indians, he delayed for ten days and rested his wearied
party. Though afterward delayed, Hunt, with his following of thirty men,
one woman, and two children, arrived at Astoria, to the great delight of
his companions, on February 15th, 1812.

Various accounts have been given of the journey. Those of Ross Cox and
Alexander Ross are the work of actual members of the Astor Company,
though not of the party which really crossed. Washington Irving's
"Astoria" is regarded as a pleasing fiction, and he is very truly spoken
of by Dr. Coues, the editor of Henry and Thompson's journals, in the
following fashion:--"No story of travel is more familiar to the public
than the tale told by Irving of this adventure, because none is more
readable as a romance founded upon fact.... Irving plies his golden
pen elastically, and from it flow wit and humour, stirring scene, and
startling incident, character to the life. But he never tells us where
those people went, perhaps for the simple reason that he never knew. He
wafts us westward on his strong plume, and we look down on those hapless
Astorians; but we might as well be ballooning for aught of exactitude we
can make of this celebrated itinerary."

In October, 1811, the second party by sea left New York on the ship
_Beaver_, to join the traders at the mouth of the Columbia. Ross Cox,
who was one of the clerks, gives a most interesting account of the
voyage and of the affairs of the Company. With him were six other cabin
passengers. The ship was commanded by Captain Sowles. The voyage was on
the whole a prosperous one, and Cape Horn was doubled on New Year's
Day, 1812. More than a month after, the ship called at Juan Fernandez,
and two months after crossed the Equator. Three weeks afterward she
reached the Sandwich Islands, and on April 9th, after a further voyage,
arrived at the mouth of the Columbia.

On arriving at Astoria the newcomers had many things to see and learn,
but they were soon under way, preparing for their future work. There
were many risks in thus venturing away from their fort. Chief Trader
McDougall had indeed found the fort itself threatened after the disaster
of the _Tonquin_. He had, however, boldly grappled with the case. Having
few of his company to support him, he summoned the Indians to meet him.
In their presence he informed them that he understood they were plotting
against him, but, drawing a corked bottle from his pocket, he said:
"This bottle contains smallpox. I have but to draw out the cork and at
once you will be seized by the plague." They implored him to spare them
and showed no more hostility.

Such recitals as this, and the sad story of the _Tonquin_ related to
Ross Cox and his companions, naturally increased their nervousness as to
penetrating the interior.

The _Beaver_ had sailed for Canton with furs, and the party of the
interior was organized with three proprietors, Ramsay Crooks, Robert
McLellan, and Robert Stuart, who, with eight men, were to cross the
mountains to St. Louis. At the fort there remained Mr. Hunt, Duncan
McDougall, B. Clapp, J. C. Halsey, and Gabriel Franchère, the last of
whom wrote an excellent account in French of the Astor Company affairs.



     Alexander Mackenzie's book--Lord Selkirk
     interested--Emigration a boon--Writes to Imperial Government--In
     1802 looks to Lake Winnipeg--Benevolent project of trade--Compelled
     to choose Prince Edward Island--Opinions as to Hudson's Bay
     Company's charter--Nor'-Westers alarmed--Hudson's Bay Company's
     Stock--Purchases _Assiniboia_--Advertises the new colony--Religion
     no disqualification--Sends first colony--Troubles of the
     project--Arrive at York Factory--The winter--The mutiny--"Essence
     of Malt"--Journey inland--A second party--Third party under
     Archibald Macdonald--From Helmsdale--The number of colonists.

The publication of his work by Alexander Mackenzie, entitled, "Voyages
from Montreal through the Continent of North America, &c.," awakened
great interest in the British Isles. Among those who were much
influenced by it was Thomas, Earl of Selkirk, a young Scottish nobleman
of distinguished descent and disposition. The young Earl at once thought
of the wide country described as a fitting home for the poor and
unsuccessful British peasantry, who, as we learn from Wordsworth, were
at this time in a most distressful state.

During his college days the Earl of Selkirk had often visited the
Highland glens and crofts, and though himself a Southron, he was so
interested in his picturesque countrymen that he learned the Gaelic
language. Not only the sad condition of Scotland, but likewise the
unsettled state of Ireland, appealed to his heart and his patriotic
sympathies. He came to the conclusion that emigration was the remedy for
the ills of Scotland and Ireland alike.

Accordingly we find the energetic Earl writing to Lord Pelham to
interest the British Government in the matter. We have before us a
letter with two memorials attached. This is dated April 4th, 1802,
and was kindly supplied the writer by the Colonial Office. The
proposals, after showing the desirability of relieving the congested and
dissatisfied population already described, go on to speak of a suitable
field for the settlement of the emigrants. And this we see is the
region described by Alexander Mackenzie. Lord Selkirk says: "No large
tract remains unoccupied on the sea-coast of British America except
barren and frozen deserts. To find a sufficient extent of good soil in
a temperate climate we must go far inland. This inconvenience is not,
however, an insurmountable obstacle to the prosperity of a colony, and
appears to be amply compensated by other advantages that are to be found
in some remote parts of the British territory. At the western extremity
of Canada, upon the waters which fall into Lake Winnipeg and which in
the great river of Port Nelson discharge themselves into Hudson Bay,
is a country which the Indian traders represent as fertile, and of a
climate far more temperate than the shores of the Atlantic under the
same parallel, and not more severe than that of Germany or Poland. Here,
therefore, the colonists may, with a moderate exertion of industry,
be certain of a comfortable subsistence, and they may also raise some
valuable objects of exportation.... To a colony in these territories the
channel of trade must be the river of Port Nelson."

It is exceedingly interesting, in view of the part afterwards played by
Lord Selkirk, to read the following statement: "The greatest impediment
to a colony in this quarter seems to be the Hudson's Bay Company
monopoly, which the possessors cannot be expected easily to relinquish.
They may, however, be amply indemnified for its abolition without any
burden, perhaps even with advantage to the revenue."

The letter then goes on to state the successful trade carried on by the
Canadian traders, and gives a scheme by which both the Hudson's Bay
Company and the North-West Company may receive profits greater than
those then enjoyed, by a plan of issuing licences, and limiting traders
to particular districts.

Further, the proposal declares: "If these indefatigable Canadians were
allowed the free navigation of the Hudson Bay they might, without going
so far from Port Nelson as they now go from Montreal, extend their
traffic from sea to sea, through the whole northern part of America,
and send home more than double the value that is now derived from that

The matter brought up in these proposals was referred to Lord
Buckinghamshire, Colonial Secretary, but failed for the time being,
not because of any unsuitableness of the country, but "because the
prejudices of the British people were so strong against emigration."
During the next year Lord Selkirk succeeded in organizing a Highland
emigration of not less than 800 souls. Not long before the starting of
the ships the British Government seems to have interfered to prevent
this large number being led to the region of Lake Winnipeg, and
compelled Lord Selkirk to choose the more accessible shore of Prince
Edward Island. After settling his colonists on the island, Lord Selkirk
visited Montreal, where he was well received by the magnates of the
North-West Company, and where his interest in the far West was increased
by witnessing, as Astor also did about the same time, the large returns
obtained by the "lords of the lakes and forests."

Years went past, and Lord Selkirk, unable to obtain the assent of the
British Government to his great scheme of colonizing the interior
of North America, at length determined to obtain possession of the
territory wanted for his plans through the agency of the Hudson's Bay
Company. About the year 1810 he began to turn his attention in earnest
to the matter.

With characteristic Scottish caution he submitted the charter of the
Hudson's Bay Company to the highest legal authorities in London,
including the names Romilly, Holroyd, Cruise, Scarlett, and John Bell.
Their clear opinion was that the Hudson's Bay Company was legally able
to sell its territory and to transfer the numerous rights bestowed by
the charter. They say, "We are of opinion that the grant of the soil
contained in the charter is good, and that it will include all the
country, the waters of which run into Hudson Bay, as ascertained by
geographical observation."

Lord Selkirk, now fully satisfied that the Hudson's Bay Company was a
satisfactory instrument, proceeded to obtain control of the stock of the

The partners of the North-West Company learned of the steps being taken
by Lord Selkirk and became greatly alarmed. They were of the opinion
that the object of Lord Selkirk was to make use of his great emigration
scheme to give supremacy to the Hudson's Bay Company over its rivals,
and to injure the Nor'-Westers' fur trade. So far as can be seen, Lord
Selkirk had no interest in the rivalry that had been going on between
the Companies for more than a generation. His first aim was emigration,
and this for the purpose of relieving the distress of many in the
British Isles.

As showing the mind of Lord Selkirk in the matter we have before us a
copy of his lordship's work on emigration published in 1805. This copy
is a gift to the writer from Lady Isabella Hope, the late daughter of
Lord Selkirk. In this octavo volume, upwards of 280 pages, the whole
question of the state of the Highlands is ably described. Tracing
the condition of the Highlanders from the Rebellion of 1745, and the
necessity of emigration, Lord Selkirk refers to the demand for keeping
up the Highland regiments as being less than formerly, and that the
Highland proprietors had been opposed to emigration.

His patriotism was also stirred in favour of preventing the flow of
British subjects to the United States, and in his desire to see the
British possessions, especially in America, filled up with loyal British
subjects. He states that in his Prince Edward Island Company in 1803 he
had succeeded in securing a number from the Isle of Skye, whose friends
had largely gone to North Carolina, and that others of them were from
Ross, Argyle, and Inverness, and that the friends of these had chiefly
gone to the United States.

After going into some detail as to the management of his Prince Edward
Island Highlanders, he speaks of the success of his experiment, and
gives us proof of his consuming interest in the progress and happiness
of his poor fellow-countrymen. It is consequently almost beyond doubt
the fact that it was his desire for carrying out his emigration scheme
that led him to obtain control of the Hudson's Bay Company, and not the
desire to introduce a colony to injure the North-West trade, as charged.

There can be no doubt of Lord Selkirk's thoroughly patriotic and lofty
aims. In 1808 he published a brochure of some eighty pages on "A System
of National Defence." In this he shows the value of a local militia and
proposes a plan for the maintenance of a sufficient force to protect
Great Britain from its active enemy, Napoleon. He maintains that a
Volunteer force would not be permanent; and that under any semblance
of peace that establishment must immediately fall to pieces. His only
dependence for the safety of the country is in a local militia.

With his plan somewhat matured, he continued in 1810 to obtain
possession of stock of the Company, and succeeded in having much of
it in the hands of his friends. By May, 1811, he had with his friends
acquired, it is said, not less than 35,000_l._ of the total stock,
105,000_l._ sterling. A general court of the proprietors was called for
May 30th, and the proposition was made by Lord Selkirk to purchase a
tract of land lying in the wide expanse of Rupert's Land and on the Red
River of the North, to settle, within a limited time, a large colony on
their lands and to assume the expense of transport, of outlay for the
settlers, of government, of protection, and of quieting the Indian title
to the lands. At the meeting there was represented about 45,000_l._
worth of stock, and the vote on being taken showed the representatives
of nearly 30,000_l._ of the stock to be in favour of accepting Lord
Selkirk's proposal. Among those who voted with the enterprising Earl
were his kinsmen, Andrew Wedderburn, Esq. (having nearly 4,500_l._
stock), William Mainwaring, the Governor Joseph Berens, Deputy-Governor
John Henry Pelly, and many other well-known proprietors.

The opposition was, however, by no means insignificant, William
Thwaytes, representing nearly 10,000_l._, voted against the proposal, as
did also Robert Whitehead, who held 3,000_l._ stock. The most violent
opponents, however, were the Nor'-Westers who were in England at the
time. Two of them had only purchased stock within forty-eight hours of
the meeting. These were Alexander Mackenzie, John Inglis, and Edward
Ellice, the three together representing less than 2,500_l._

The projector of the colony having now beaten down all opposition,
forthwith proceeded to carry out his great plan of colonization. His
project has, of course, been greatly criticized. He has been called "a
kind-hearted but visionary Scottish nobleman," and his relative, Sir
James Wedderburn, spoke of him fifty years afterwards as "a remarkable
man, who had the misfortune to live before his time." Certainly Lord
Selkirk met with gigantic difficulties, but these were rather from the
North-West Company than from any untimeliness in his emigration scheme.

Lord Selkirk soon issued the advertisement and prospectus of the new
colony. He held forth the advantage to be derived from joining the
colony. His policy was very comprehensive. He said: "The settlement is
to be formed in a territory where religion is not the ground of any
disqualification; an unreserved participation in every privilege will
therefore be enjoyed by Protestant and Catholic without distinction."

The area of the new settlement was said to consist of 110,000 square
miles on the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, and one of the most fertile
districts of North America. The name Assiniboia was given it from the
Assiniboine, and steps were taken immediately to organize a government
for the embryo colony.

Active measures were then taken by the Earl of Selkirk to advance his
scheme, and it was determined to send out the first colony immediately.
Some years before, Lord Selkirk had carried on a correspondence with
a U. E. Loyalist colonist, Miles Macdonell, formerly an officer of
the King's Royal Regiment of New York, who had been given the rank of
captain in the Canadian Militia. Macdonell's assistance was obtained in
the new enterprise, and he was appointed by his lordship to superintend
his colony at Red River.

Many incorrect statements have been made about the different bands of
colonists which found their way to Red River. No less than four parties
arrived at Red River by way of York or Churchill Factories between
the years 1811 and 1815. Facts connected with one of them have been
naturally confused in the memories of the old settlers on Red River with
what happened to other bands. In this way the author has found that
representations made to him and embodied in his work on "Manitoba,"
published in 1882, were in several particulars incorrect. Fortunately in
late years the letter-book of Captain Miles Macdonell was acquired from
the Misses Macdonell of Brockville, and the voluminous correspondence of
Lord Selkirk has been largely copied for the Archives at Ottawa. These
letters enable us to give a clear and accurate account of the first band
of colonists that found its way to the heart of the Continent and began
the Red River settlement.

In the end of June, 1811, Captain Miles Macdonell found himself at
Yarmouth, on the east coast of England, with a fleet of three vessels
sent out by the Hudson's Bay Company for their regular trade and also
to carry the first colonists. These vessels were the _Prince of Wales_,
the _Eddystone_, and an old craft the _Edward and Anne_, with "old sail
ropes, &c., and very badly manned." This extra vessel was evidently
intended for the accommodation of the colonists. By the middle of July
the little fleet had reached the Pentland Firth and were compelled to
put into Stromness, when the _Prince of Wales_ embarked a number of
Orkneymen intended for the Company's service. The men of the Hudson's
Bay Company at this time were largely drawn from the Orkney Islands.

Proceeding on their way the fleet made rendezvous at Stornoway, the
chief town of Lewis, one of the Hebrides. Here had arrived a number
of colonists or employés, some from Sligo, others from Glasgow, and
others from different parts of the Highlands. Many influences were
operating against the success of the colonizing expedition. It had the
strenuous opposition of Sir Alexander Mackenzie, then in Britain, and
the newspapers contained articles intended to discourage and dissuade
people from embarking in the enterprise. Mr. Reid, collector of Customs
at Stornoway, whose wife was an aunt of Sir Alexander Mackenzie, threw
every impediment in the way of the project, and some of those engaged by
Lord Selkirk were actually lured away by enlisting agents. A so-called
"Captain" Mackenzie, denominated a "mean fellow," came alongside the
_Edward and Anne_, which had some seventy-six men aboard--Glasgow men,
Irish, "and a few from Orkney"--and claimed some of them as "deserters
from Her Majesty's service." The demand was, however, resisted. It is
no wonder that in his letter to Lord Selkirk Captain Macdonell writes,
"All the men that we shall have are now embarked, but it has been an
herculean task."

A prominent employé of the expedition, Mr. Moncrieff Blair, posing as
a gentleman, deserted on July 25th, the day before the sailing of the
vessels. A number of the deserters at Stornoway had left their effects
on board, and these were disposed of by sale among the passengers.
Among the officers was a Mr. Edwards, who acted as medical man of the
expedition. He had his hands completely full during the voyage and
returned to England with the ships. Another notable person on board was
a Roman Catholic priest, known as Father Bourke. Captain Macdonell was
himself a Roman Catholic, but he seems from the first to have had no
confidence in the priest, who, he stated, had "come away without the
leave of his bishop, who was at the time at Dublin." Father Bourke,
we shall see, though carried safely to the shores of Hudson Bay,
never reached the interior, but returned to Britain in the following
year. After the usual incidents of "an uncommon share of boisterous,
stormy, and cold weather" on the ocean, the ships entered Hudson Bay.
Experiencing "a course of fine mild weather and moderate fair winds," on
September 24th the fleet reached the harbour of York Factory, after a
voyage of sixty-one days out from Stornoway, the _Eddystone_, which was
intended to go to Churchill, not having been able to reach that Factory,
coming with the other vessels to York Factory.

The late arrival of the colony on the shores of Hudson Bay made it
impossible to ascend the Nelson River and reach the interior during the
season of 1811. Accordingly Captain Macdonell made preparations for
wintering on the Bay. York Factory would not probably have afforded
sufficient accommodation for the colonists, but in addition Captain
Macdonell states in a letter to Lord Selkirk that "the factory is
very ill constructed and not at all adapted for a cold country."
In consequence of these considerations, Captain Macdonell at once
undertook, during the fair weather of the season yet remaining, to build
winter quarters on the north side of the river, at a distance of some
miles from the Factory. No doubt matters of discipline entered into the
plans of the leader of the colonists. In a short time very comfortable
dwellings were erected, built of round logs, the front side high with a
shade roof sloping to the rear a foot thick--and the group of huts was
known as "Nelson encampment!"

The chief work during the earlier winter, which the captain laid on his
two score men, was providing themselves with fuel, of which there was
plenty, and obtaining food from the Factory, for which sledges drawn
over the snow were utilized by the detachments sent on this service. The
most serious difficulty was, however, a meeting, in which a dozen or
more of the men became completely insubordinate, and refused to yield
obedience either to Captain Macdonell or to Mr. W. H. Cook, the Governor
of the Factory. Every effort was made to maintain discipline, but the
men steadily held to their own way, lived apart from Macdonell, and drew
their own provisions from the fort to their huts. This tended to make
the winter somewhat long and disagreeable.

Captain Macdonell, being a Canadian, knew well the dangers of the
dread disease of the scurvy attacking his inexperienced colonists.
The men at the fort prophesied evil things in this respect for the
"encampment." The captain took early steps to meet the disease, and his
letters to Governor Cook always contain demands for "essence of malt,"
"crystallized salts of lemon," and other anti-scorbutics. Though some of
his men were attacked, yet the sovereign remedy so often employed in the
"lumber camps" of America, the juice of the white spruce, was applied
with almost magical effect. As the winter went on, plenty of venison was
received, and the health of his wintering party was in the spring much
better than could have been anticipated.

After the New Year had come, all thoughts were directed to preparations
for the journey of 700 miles or thereabouts to the interior. A number
of boats were required for transportation of the colonists and their
effects. Captain Macdonell insisted on his boats being made after
a different style from the boats commonly used at that time by the
Company. His model was the flat boat, which he had seen used in the
Mohawk River in the State of New York. The workmanship displayed in the
making of these boats very much dissatisfied Captain Macdonell, and he
constantly complained of the indolence of the workmen. In consequence of
this inefficiency the cost of the boats to Lord Selkirk was very great,
and drew forth the objections of the leader of the colony.

Captain Macdonell had the active assistance of Mr. Cook, the officer in
charge of York, and of Mr. Auld, the Commander of Churchill, the latter
having come down to York to make arrangements for the inland journey
of the colonists. By July 1st, 1812, the ice had moved from the river,
and the expedition started soon after on the journey to Red River. The
new settlers found the route a hard and trying one with its rapids and
portages. The boats, too, were heavy, and the colonists inexperienced in
managing them. It was well on toward autumn when the company, numbering
about seventy, reached the Red River. No special preparation had been
made for the colonists, and the winter would soon be upon them. Some
of the parties were given shelter in the Company fort and buildings,
others in the huts of the freed men, who were married to the Indian
women, and settled in the neighbourhood of the Forks, while others still
found refuge in the tents of the Indian encampment in the vicinity.
Governor Macdonell soon selected Point Douglas as the future centre of
the colony and what is now Kildonan as the settlement. On account of the
want of food the settlers were taken sixty miles south to Pembina and
there, by November, a post, called Fort Daer from one of Lord Selkirk's
titles, was erected for the shelter of the people and for nearness to
the buffalo herds. The Governor Joined the colony in a short time and
retired with them early in 1813 to their settlement.

While Governor Macdonell was thus early engaged in making a beginning
in the new colony, Lord Selkirk was seeking out more colonists, and
sent out a small number to the New World by the Hudson's Bay Company
ships. Before sailing from Stornoway the second party met with serious
interruption from the collector of Customs, who, we have seen, was
related to Sir Alexander Mackenzie. The number on board the ships was
greater, it was claimed, than the "Dundas Act" permitted. Through the
influence of Lord Selkirk the ships were allowed to proceed on their
voyage. Prison fever, it is said, broke out on the voyage, so that a
number died at sea, and others on the shore of Hudson Bay. A small
number, not more than fifteen or twenty, reached Red River in the autumn
of 1813.

During the previous winter Governor Macdonell had taken a number of the
colonists to Pembina, a point sixty miles south of the Forks, where
buffalo could be had, as has already been mentioned on the previous
page. On returning, after the second winter, to the settlement, the
colonists sowed a small quantity of wheat. They were not, however, at
that time in possession of any horses or oxen and were consequently
compelled to prepare the ground with the hoe.

Lord Selkirk had not been anxious in 1812 to send a large addition to
his colony. In 1813 he made greater efforts, and in June sent out in
the _Prince of Wales_, sailing from Orkney, a party under Mr. Archibald
Macdonald, numbering some ninety-three persons. Mr. Macdonald has
written an account of his voyage, and has given us a remarkably concise
and clear pamphlet. Having spent the winter at Churchill, Macdonald
started on April 14th with a considerable number of his party, and,
coming by way of York Factory, reached Red River on June 22nd, when
they were able to plant some thirty or forty bushels of potatoes. The
settlers were in good spirits, having received plots of land to build
houses for themselves. Governor Macdonell went northward to meet the
remainder of Archibald Macdonald's party, and arrived with them late in
the season.

On account of various misunderstandings between the colony and the
North-West Company, which we shall relate more particularly in another
chapter, 150 of the colonists were induced by a North-West officer,
Duncan Cameron, to leave the country and go by a long canoe journey to
Canada. The remainder, numbering about sixty persons, making up about
thirteen families, were driven from the settlement, and found refuge at
Norway House (Jack River) at the foot of Lake Winnipeg. An officer from
Lord Selkirk, Colin Robertson, arrived in the colony to assist these
settlers, but found them driven out. He followed them to Norway House,
and with his twenty clerks and servants, conducted them back to Red
River to their deserted homes.

While these disastrous proceedings were taking place on Red River,
including the summons to Governor Macdonell to appear before the Courts
of Lower Canada to answer certain charges made against him, Lord Selkirk
was especially active in Great Britain, and gathered together the best
band of settlers yet sent out. These were largely from the parish of
Kildonan, in Sutherlandshire, Scotland. Governor Macdonell having gone
east to Canada, the colony was to be placed under a new Governor, a
military officer of some distinction, Robert Semple, who had travelled
in different parts of the world. Governor Semple was in charge of this
fourth party of colonists, who numbered about 100. With this party,
hastening through his journey, Governor Semple reached his destination
on Red River in the month of October, in the same year in which they had
left the motherland.

Thus we have seen the arrival of those who were known as the Selkirk
colonists. We recapitulate their numbers:--

  In 1811, reaching Red River in 1812                              70
  In 1812, reaching Red River in 1813                        15 or 20
  In 1813, reaching Red River in two parties in 1814               93
  In 1815, reaching Red River in the same year                    100
  Making deduction of the Irish settlers there were of the
    Highland colonists about                                      270
  Less those led by the North-West Company in 1814 to Canada      140
  Permanent Highland settlers                                     130

Of these but two remained on the banks of the Red River in 1897, George
Bannerman and John Matheson, and they have both died since that time.

We shall follow the history of these colonists further; suffice it now
to say that their settlement has proved the country to be one of great
fertility and promise; and their early establishment no doubt prevented
international complications with the United States that might have
rendered the possession of Rupert's Land a matter of uncertainty to
Great Britain.



     Nor'-Westers oppose the colony--Reason why--A considerable
     literature--Contentions of both parties--Both in fault--Miles
     Macdonell's mistake--Nor'-Wester arrogance--Duncan Cameron's
     ingenious plan--Stirring up the Chippewas--Nor'-Westers warn
     colonists to depart--McLeod's hitherto unpublished narrative--Vivid
     account of a brave defence--Chain shot from the blacksmith's
     smithy--Fort Douglas begun--Settlers driven out--Governor Semple
     arrives--Cameron last Governor of Fort Gibraltar--Cameron sent to
     Britain as a prisoner--Fort Gibraltar captured--Fort Gibraltar
     decreases, Fort Douglas increases--Free traders take to the
     plains--Indians favour the colonists.

To the most casual observer it must have been evident that the colony
to be established by Lord Selkirk would be regarded with disfavour by
the North-West Company officers. The strenuous opposition shown to it in
Great Britain by Sir Alexander Mackenzie, and by all who were connected
with him, showed quite clearly that it would receive little favour on
the Red River.

First, it was a Hudson's Bay scheme, and would greatly advance the
interests of the English trading Company. That Company would have at the
very threshold of the fur country a depôt, surrounded by traders and
workmen, which would give them a great advantage over their rivals.

Secondly, civilization and its handmaid agriculture are incompatible
with the fur trade. As the settler enters, the fur-bearing animals are
exterminated. A sparsely settled, almost unoccupied country, is the only
hope of preserving this trade.

Thirdly, the claim of the Hudson's Bay Company under its charter was
that they had the sole right to pursue the fur trade in Rupert's Land.
Their traditional policy on Hudson Bay had been to drive out private
trade, and to preserve their monopoly.

Fourthly, the Nor'-Westers claimed to be the lineal successors of the
French traders, who, under Verendrye, had opened up the region west of
Lake Superior. They long after maintained that priority of discovery and
earlier possession gave them the right to claim the region in dispute as
belonging to the province of Quebec, and so as being a part of Canada.

The first and second parties of settlers were so small, and seemed so
little able to cope with the difficulties of their situation, that no
great amount of opposition was shown. They were made, it is true, the
laughing-stock of the half-breeds and Indians, for these free children
of the prairies regarded the use of the hoe or other agricultural
implement as beneath them. The term "Pork-eaters," applied, as we have
seen, to the voyageurs east of Fort William, was freely applied to
these settlers, while the Indians used to call them the French name
"jardinières" or clod-hoppers.

A considerable literature is in existence dealing with the events of
this period. It is somewhat difficult, in the conflict of opinion,
to reach a basis of certainty as to the facts of this contest.
The Indian country is proverbial for the prevalence of rumour and
misrepresentation. Moreover, prejudice and self-interest were mingled
with deep passion, so that the facts are very hard to obtain.

The upholders of the colony claim that no sooner had the settlers
arrived than efforts were made to stir up the Indians against them; that
besides, the agents of the North-West Company had induced the Metis, or
half-breeds, to disguise themselves as Indians, and that on their way
to Pembina one man was robbed by these desperadoes of the gun which his
father had carried at Culloden, a woman of her marriage ring, and others
of various ornaments and valuable articles. There were, however, it is
admitted, no specially hostile acts noticeable during the years 1812 and

The advocates of the North-West Company, on the other hand, blame the
first aggression on Miles Macdonell. During the winter of 1813 and
1814 Governor Macdonell and his colonists were occupying Fort Daer and
Pembina. The supply of subsistence from the buffalo was short, food
was difficult to obtain, the war with the United States was in progress
and might cut off communication with Montreal, and moreover, a body of
colonists was expected to arrive during the year from Great Britain.
Accordingly, the Governor, on January 8th, 1814, issued a proclamation.

He claimed the territory as ceded to Lord Selkirk, and gave the
description of the tract thus transferred. The proclamation then goes
on to say: "And whereas the welfare of the families at present forming
the settlements on the Red River within the said territory, with those
on their way to it, passing the winter at York or Churchill Forts on
Hudson Bay, as also those who are expected to arrive next autumn,
renders it a necessary and indispensable part of my duty to provide
for their support. The uncultivated state of the country, the ordinary
resources derived from the buffalo, and other wild animals hunted within
the territory, are not deemed more than adequate for the requisite
supply; wherefore, it is hereby ordered that no persons trading in furs
or provisions within the territory, for the Honourable the Hudson's
Bay Company, the North-West Company, or any individual or unconnected
traders whatever, shall take out any provisions, either of flesh, grain,
or vegetables, procured or raised within the territory, by water or
land-carriage for one twelvemonth from the date hereof; save and except
what may be judged necessary for the trading parties at the present time
within the territory, to carry them to their respective destinations,
and who may, on due application to me, obtain licence for the same. The
provisions procured and raised as above, shall be taken for the use of
the colony, and that no losses may accrue to the parties concerned, they
will be paid for by British bills at the customary rates, &c."

The Nor'-Westers then recalled the ceremonies with which Governor
Macdonell had signalized his entrance to the country: "When he arrived
he gathered his company about him, made before it some impressive
ceremonies, drawn from the conjuring book of his lordship, and read
to it his commission of governor or representative of Lord Selkirk;
afterwards a salute was fired from the Hudson's Bay Company fort, which
proclaimed his taking possession of the neighbourhood."

The Governor, however, soon gave another example of his determination to
assert his authority. It had been represented to him that the North-West
Company officers had no intention of obeying the proclamation, and
indeed were engaged in buying up all the available supplies to prevent
his getting enough for his colonists. Convinced that his opponents were
engaged in thwarting his designs, the Governor sent John Spencer to
seize some of the stores which had been gathered in the North-West post
at the mouth of the Souris River. Spencer was unwilling to go, unless
very specific instructions were given him. The Governor had, by Lord
Selkirk's influence in Canada, been appointed a magistrate, and he now
issued a warrant authorizing Spencer to seize the provisions in this

Spencer, provided with a double escort, proceeded to the fort at the
Souris, and the Nor'-Westers made no other resistance than to retire
within the stockade and shut the gate of the fort. Spencer ordered his
men to force an entrance with their hatchets. Afterwards, opening the
store-houses, they seized six hundred skins of dried meat (pemmican) and
of grease, each weighing eighty-five pounds. This booty was removed into
the Hudson's Bay Company fort (Brandon House) at that place.

We have now before us the first decided action that led to the serious
disturbances that followed. The question arises, Was the Governor
justified in the steps taken by him? No doubt, with the legal opinion
which Lord Selkirk had obtained, he considered himself thoroughly
justified. The necessities of his starving people and the plea of
humanity were certainly strong motives urging him to action. No doubt
these considerations seemed strong, but, on the other hand, he should
have remembered that the idea of law in the fur traders' country was
a new thing, that the Nor'-Westers, moreover, were not prepared to
credit him with purity of motive, and that they had at their disposal a
force of wild Bois Brûlés ready to follow the unbridled customs of the
plains. Further, even in civilized communities laws of non-intercourse,
embargo, and the like, are looked upon as arbitrary and of doubtful
validity. All these things should have led the Governor, ill provided
as he was with the force necessary for his defence, to hesitate before
taking a course likely to be disagreeable to the Nor'-Westers, who would
regard it as an assertion of the claim of superiority of the Hudson's
Bay Company and of the consequent degradation of their Company, of which
they were so proud.

In their writings the North-West Company take some credit for not
precipitating a conflict, but state that they endured the indignity
until their council at Fort William should take action in the following
summer. At this council, which was interesting and full of strong
feeling against their fur-trading rivals, the Nor'-Westers, under the
presidency of the Hon. William McGillivray, took decided action.

In the trials that afterwards arose out of this unfortunate quarrel,
John Pritchard, whose forty days' wanderings we have recorded, testified
that one of the North-West agents, Mackenzie, had given him the
information that "the intention of the North-West Company was to seduce
and inveigle away as many of the colonists and settlers at Red River
as they could induce to join them; and after they should thus have
diminished their means of defence, to raise the Indians of Lac Rouge,
Fond du Lac, and other places, to act and destroy the settlement; and
that it was also their intention to bring the Governor, Miles Macdonell,
down to Montreal as a prisoner, by way of degrading the authority under
which the colony was established in the eyes of the natives of that

Simon McGillivray, a North-West Company partner, had two years before
this written from London that "Lord Selkirk must be driven to abandon
his project, for his success would strike at the very existence of our

Two of the most daring partners of the North-West Company were put in
charge of the plan of campaign agreed on at Fort William. These were
Duncan Cameron and Alexander Macdonell. The latter wrote to a friend,
from one of his resting-places on his journey, "Much is expected of
us ... so here is at them with all my heart and energy." The two
partners arrived at Fort Gibraltar, situated at the forks of the Red
and Assiniboine Rivers, toward the end of August. The senior partner,
Macdonell, leaving Cameron at Fort Gibraltar, went westward to the
Qu'Appelle River, to return in the spring and carry out the plan agreed

Cameron had been busy during the winter in dealing with the settlers,
and let no opportunity slip of impressing them. Knowing the fondness
of Highlanders for military display, he dressed himself in a bright
red coat, wore a sword, and in writing to the settlers, which he often
did, signed himself, "D. Cameron, Captain, Voyageur Corps, Commanding
Officer, Red River." He also posted an order at the gate of his fort
purporting to be his captain's commission. Some dispute has arisen as to
the validity of this authority. There seems to have been some colour for
the use of this title, under authority given for enlisting an irregular
corps in the upper lakes during the American War of 1812, but the legal
opinion is that this had no validity in the Red River settlement.

Cameron, aiming at the destruction of the colony, began by ingratiating
himself with a number of the leading settlers. Knowing the love of
the Highlanders for their own language, Cameron spoke to them Gaelic
in his most pleasing manner, entertained the leading colonists at his
own table, and paid many attentions to their families. Promises were
then made to a number of leaders to provide the people with homes in
Upper Canada, to pay up wages due by the Hudson's Bay Company or Lord
Selkirk, and to give a year's provisions free, provided the colony would
leave the Red River and accept the advantages offered in Canada. This
plan succeeded remarkably well, and it is in sworn evidence that on
three-quarters of the colony reaching Fort William, a settler, Campbell
received 100_l._, several others 20_l._, and so on.

Some of the best of the settlers, amounting to about one-quarter of
the whole, refused all the advances of the subtle captain. Another
method was taken with this class. The plan of frightening them away by
the co-operation of the Cree Indians had failed, but the Bois Brûlés,
or half-breeds, were a more pliant agency. These were to be employed.
Cameron now (April, 1815) made a demand on Archibald Macdonald, Acting
Governor, to hand over to the settlers the field pieces belonging
to Lord Selkirk, on the ground that these had been used already to
disturb the peace. This startling order was presented to the Governor by
settler Campbell on the day on which the fortnightly issue of rations
took place at the colony buildings. The settlers in favour of Cameron
then broke open the store-house, and took nine pieces of ordnance and
removed them to Fort Gibraltar. The Governor having arrested one of the
settlers who had broken open the store-house, a number of the North-West
Company clerks and servants, under orders from Cameron, broke into the
Governor's house and rescued the prisoner.

About this time Miles Macdonell, the Governor, returned to the
settlement. A warrant had been issued for his arrest by the
Nor'-Westers, but he refused for the time to acknowledge the
jurisdiction of the magistrates. Cameron now spread abroad the statement
that if the settlers did not deliver up the Governor, they in turn would
be attacked and driven from their homes. Certain colonists were now
fired at by unseen assailants.

About the middle of May, the senior partner, Alexander Macdonell,
arrived from Qu'Appelle, accompanied by a band of Cree Indians. The
partners hoped through these to frighten the settlers who remained
obdurate, but the Indians were too astute to be led into the quarrel,
and assured Governor Miles Macdonell that they were resolved not to
molest the newcomers.

An effort was also made to stir up the Chippewa Indians of Sand Lake,
near the west of Lake Superior. The chief of the band declared to the
Indian Department of Canada that he was offered a large reward if he
would declare war against the Selkirk colonists. This the Chippewas
refused to do.

Early in June the lawless spirit followed by the Nor'-Westers again
showed itself. A party from Fort Gibraltar went down with loaded
muskets, and from a wood near the Governor's residence fired upon some
of the colony employés. Mr. White, the surgeon, was nearly hit, and a
ball passed close by Mr. Burke, the storekeeper. General firing then
began from the wood and was returned from the house, but four of the
colony servants were wounded. This expedition was under Cameron, who
congratulated his followers on the result.

The demand for the surrender of the Governor, in answer to the warrant
issued, was then made, and at the persuasion of the other officers of
the settlement, and to avoid the loss of life and the dangers threatened
against the colonists, Governor Miles Macdonell surrendered himself and
was taken to Montreal for trial, though no trial ever took place.

The double plan of coaxing away all the settlers who were open to such
inducement, and of then forcibly driving away the residue from the
settlement, seemed likely to succeed. One hundred and thirty-four of
the colonists, induced by promises of free transport, two hundred acres
of land in Upper Canada, as well as in some cases by substantial gifts,
deserted the colony in June (1815), along with Cameron, and arrived
at Fort William on their way down the lakes at the end of July. These
settlers made their way in canoes along the desolate shores of Lake
Superior and Georgian Bay, and arrived at Holland Landing, in Upper
Canada, on September 5th. Many of them were given land in the township
of West Guillimbury, near Newmarket, and many of their descendants are
there to this day.

The Nor'-Westers now continued their persecution of the remnant of the
settlers. They burnt some of their houses and used threats of the most
extreme kind. On June 25th, 1815, the following document was served upon
the disheartened colonists:--

"All settlers to retire immediately from the Red River, and no trace of
a settlement to remain.

                                                    "CUTHBERT GRANT.
                                                    "BOSTONNAIS PANGMAN.
                                                    "WILLIAM SHAW.
                                                    "BONHOMME MONTOUR."

The conflict resulting at this time may be said to be the first battle
of the war. A fiery Highland trader, John McLeod, was in charge of the
Hudson's Bay Company house at this point, and we have his account of the
attack and defence, somewhat bombastic it may be, but which, so far as
known to the author, has never been published before.


"In 1814-15, being in charge of the whole Red River district, I spent
the winter at the Forks, at the settlement there. On June 25th, 1815,
while I was in charge, a sudden attack was made by an armed band of
the N.-W. party under the leadership of Alexander Macdonell (Yellow
Head) and Cuthbert Grant, on the settlement and Hudson's Bay Company
fort at the Forks. They numbered about seventy or eighty, well armed
and on horseback. Having had some warning of it, I assumed command of
both the colony and H. B. C. parties. Mustering with inferior numbers,
and with only a few guns, we took a stand against them. Taking my place
amongst the colonists, I fought with them. All fought bravely and kept
up the fight as long as possible. Many all about me falling wounded; one
mortally. Only thirteen out of our band escaped unscathed.

"The brunt of the struggle was near the H. B. C. post, close to which
was our blacksmith's smithy--a log building about ten feet by ten.
Being hard pressed, I thought of trying the little cannon (a three or
four-pounder) lying idle in the post where it could not well be used.

"One of the settlers (Hugh McLean) went with two of my men, with his
cart to fetch it, with all the cart chains he could get and some powder.
Finally, we got the whole to the blacksmithy, where, chopping up the
chain into lengths for shot, we opened a fire of chain shot on the enemy
which drove back the main body and scattered them, and saved the post
from utter destruction and pillage. All the colonists' houses were,
however, destroyed by fire. Houseless, wounded, and in extreme distress,
they took to the boats, and, saving what they could, started for Norway
House (Jack's River), declaring they would never return.

"The enemy still prowled about, determined apparently to expel, dead or
alive, all of our party. All of the H. B. Company's officers and men
refused to remain, except the two brave fellows in the service, viz.
Archibald Currie and James McIntosh, who, with noble Hugh McLean, joined
in holding the fort in the smithy. Governor Macdonell was a prisoner.

"In their first approach the enemy appeared determined more to
frighten than to kill. Their demonstration in line of battle, mounted,
and in full 'war paint' and equipment was formidable, but their fire,
especially at first, was desultory. Our party, numbering only about half
theirs, while preserving a general line of defence, exposed itself as
little as possible, but returned the enemy's fire, sharply checking the
attack, and our line was never broken by them. On the contrary, when the
chain-firing began, the enemy retired out of range of our artillery, but
at a flank movement reached the colony houses, where they quickly and
resistlessly plied the work of destruction. To their credit be it said,
they took no life or property.

"Of killed, on our side, there was only poor John Warren of H. B. C.
service, a worthy brave gentleman, who, taking a leading part in the
battle, too fearlessly exposed himself. Of the enemy, probably, the
casualties were greater, for they presented a better target, and we
certainly fired to kill. From the smithy we could and did protect the
trade post, but could not the buildings of the colonists, which were
along the bank of the Red River, while the post faced the Assiniboine
more than the Red River. Fortunately for us in the 'fort' (the smithy)
the short nights were never too dark for our watch and ward.

"The colonists were allowed to take what they could of what belonged
to them, and that was but little, for as yet they had neither cow nor
plough, only a horse or two. There were boats and other craft enough
to take them all--colonists and H. B. C. people--away, and all, save
my three companions already named and myself, took ship and fled. For
many days after we were under siege, living under constant peril; but
unconquerable in our bullet-proof log walls, and with our terrible
cannon and chain shot.

"At length the enemy retired. The post was safe, with from 800_l._ to
1000_l._ sterling worth of attractive trade goods belonging to the
Hudson's Bay Company untouched. I was glad of this, for it enabled me to
secure the services of free men about the place--French Canadians and
half-breeds not in the service of the N.-W. Company--to restore matters
and prepare for the future.

"I felt that we had too much at stake in the country to give it up, and
had every confidence in the resources of the H. B. Company and the Earl
of Selkirk to hold their own and effectually repel any future attack
from our opponents.

"I found the free men about the place willing to work for me; and at
once hired a force of them for building and other works in reparation
of damages and in new works. So soon as I got my post in good order,
I turned to save the little but precious and promising crops of the
colonists, whose return I anticipated, made fences where required, and
in due time cut and stacked their hay, &c.

"That done I took upon me, without order or suggestion from any quarter,
to build a house for the Governor and his staff of the Hudson's Bay
Company at Red River. There was no such officer at that time, nor
had there ever been, but I was aware that such an appointment was

"I selected for this purpose what I considered a suitable site at
a point or sharp bend in the Red River about two miles below the
Assiniboine, on a slight rise on the south side of the point--since
known as Point Douglas, the family name of the Earl of Selkirk. Possibly
I so christened it--I forget.

"It was of two stories; with main timbers of oak; a good substantial
house; with windows of parchment in default of glass." Here ends
McLeod's diary.

The Indians of the vicinity showed the colonists much sympathy, but
on June 27th, after the hostile encounter, some thirteen families,
comprising from forty to sixty persons, pursued their sad journey,
piloted by friendly Indians, to the north end of Lake Winnipeg, where
the Hudson's Bay Company post of Jack River afforded some shelter.
McLeod and, as he tells us, three men only were left. These endeavoured
to protect the settlers' growing crops, which this year showed great

The expulsion may now be said to have been complete. The day after
the departure of the expelled settlers, the colony dwellings, with
the possible exception of the Governor's house, were all burnt to the
ground. In July the desolate band reached Jack River House, their future
being dark indeed. Deliverance was, however, coming from two directions.
Colin Robertson, a Hudson's Bay Company officer, arrived from the East
with twenty Canadians. On reaching the Red River settlement, he found
the settlers all gone, but he followed them speedily to their rendezvous
on Lake Winnipeg and returned with the refugees to their deserted homes
on Red River. They were joined also by about ninety settlers from the
Highlands of Scotland, who had come through to Red River in one season.
The colony was now rising into promise again. A number of the demolished
buildings were soon erected; the colony took heart, and under the new
Governor, Robert Semple, a British officer who had come with the last
party of settlers, the prospects seemed to have improved. The Governor's
dwelling was strengthened, other dwellings were erected beside it, and
more necessity being now seen for defence, the whole assumed a more
military aspect, and took the name, after Lord Selkirk's family name,
Fort Douglas.

Though a fair crop had been reaped by the returned settlers from their
fields, yet the large addition to their numbers made it necessary to
remove to Fort Daer, where the buffalo were plentiful. This party was
under the leadership of Sheriff Alexander Macdonell, though Governor
Semple was also there. The autumn saw trouble at the Forks. The report
of disturbances having taken place between the Nor'-Westers and Hudson's
Bay Company employés at Qu'Appelle was heard, as well as renewed threats
of disturbance in the colony. Colin Robertson in October, 1815, captured
Fort Gibraltar, seized Duncan Cameron, and recovered the field-pieces
and other property taken by the Nor'-Westers in the preceding months.
Though the capture of Cameron and his fort thus took place, and the
event was speedily followed by the reinstatement of the trader on his
promise to keep the peace, yet the report of the seizure led to the
greatest irritation in all parts of the country where the two Companies
had posts. All through the winter, threatenings of violence filled the
air. The Bois Brûlés were arrogant, and, led by their faithful leader,
Cuthbert Grant, looked upon themselves as the "New Nation."

Returning, after the New Year of 1816, from Fort Daer, Governor Semple
saw the necessity for aggressive action. Fort Gibraltar was to become
the rendezvous for a Bois Brûlés force of extermination from
Qu'Appelle, Fort des Prairies (Portage la Prairie), and even from the
Saskatchewan. To prevent this, Colin Robertson, under the Governor's
direction, recaptured Fort Gibraltar and held Cameron as a prisoner.
This event took place in March or April of 1816. The legality of this
seizure was of course much discussed between the hostile parties.

It was deemed wise, however, to make a safe disposal of the prisoner
Cameron. He was accordingly dispatched under the care of Colin
Robertson, by way of Jack River, to York Factory, to stand his trial
in England. Thus were reprisals made for the capture and removal of
Miles Macdonell in the preceding year, both actions being of doubtful
legality. On account of the failure of the Hudson's Bay Company ship
to leave York Factory in that year, Cameron did not reach England for
seventeen months, where he was immediately released.

The fall of Fort Gibraltar was soon to follow the deportation of its
commandant. The matter of the dismantling of Fort Gibraltar was much
discussed between Governor Semple and his lieutenant, Colin Robertson.
The latter was opposed to the proposed destruction of the Nor'-Wester
fort, knowing the excitement such a course would cause. However, after
the departure of Robertson to Hudson Bay in charge of Cameron, the
Governor carried out his purpose, and in the end of May, 1816, the
buildings were pulled down. A force of some thirty men were employed,
and, expecting as they did, a possible interruption from the West, the
work was done in a week or a little more.

The materials were taken apart; the stockade was made into a raft, the
remainder was piled upon it, and all was floated down Red River to the
site of Fort Douglas. The material was then used for strengthening
the fort and building new houses in it. Thus ended Fort Gibraltar. A
considerable establishment it was in its time; its name was undoubtedly
a misnomer so far as strength was concerned; yet it points to its
origination in troublous times.

[Illustration: FORT DOUGLAS.]

The vigorous policy carried out in regard to Fort Gibraltar was likewise
shown in the district south of the Forks. As we have seen, to the
south, Fort Daer had been erected, and thither, winter by winter, the
settlers had gone for subsistence. Here, too, was the Nor'-Wester
fort of Pembina House. During the time when Governor Semple and Colin
Robertson were maturing their plans, it was determined to seize Pembina.
No sooner had the news of Cameron's seizure reached Fort Daer, than
Sheriff Macdonell, who was in charge, organized an expedition, took
Pembina House, and its officers and inhabitants. The prisoners were sent
to Fort Douglas, and were liberated on pledges of good behaviour, and
the military stores were also taken to Fort Douglas. The reasons given
by the colony people for this course are "self-defence and the security
of the lives of the settlers." About the end of April, the settlers
returned from Fort Daer, and were placed on their respective lots along
the Red River.

All events now plainly pointed to armed disturbances and bloodshed. The
policy of Governor Semple was too vigorous when the inflammable elements
in the country were borne in mind. There was in the country a class
called "Free Canadians," i.e. those French Canadian trappers and traders
not connected with either Company, who obtained a precarious living for
themselves, their Indian wives, and half-breed children. These, fearing
trouble, betook themselves to the plains. The Indians of the vicinity
seemed to have gained a liking for the colonists and their leaders.
When they heard the threatenings from the West, two of the chiefs came
to Governor Semple and offered the assistance of their bands. This
the Governor could not accept, whereat the chiefs gave voice to their
sorrow and disappointment. Governor Semple seems to have disregarded all
these omens of coming trouble, and to have acted almost without common
prudence. No doubt, having but lately come to the country, he failed to
understand the daring character of his opponents.



     Leader of the Bois Brûlés--A candid letter--Account of a
     prisoner--"Yellow Head"--Speech to the Indians--The chief knows
     nothing--On fleet Indian ponies--An eye-witness in Fort Douglas--A
     rash Governor--The massacre--"For God's sake save my life"--The
     Governor and twenty others slain--Colonists driven out--Eastern
     levy meets the settlers--Effects seized--Wild revelry--Chanson of
     Pierre Falcon.

The troubles between the Hudson's Bay and North-West Companies were
evidently coming to a crisis. The Nor'-Westers laid their plans with
skill, and determined to send one expedition from Fort William westward
and another from Qu'Appelle eastward, and so crush out the opposition at
Red River.

From the west the expedition was under Cuthbert Grant, and he, appealing
to his fellow Metis, raised the standard of the Bois Brûlés and called
his followers the "New Nation." Early in March the Bois Brûlés' leader
wrote to Trader J. D. Cameron, detailing his plans and expectations.
We quote from his letter: "I am now safe and sound, thank God, for I
believe that it is more than Colin Robertson, or any of his suite, dare
offer the least insult to any of the Bois Brûlés, although Robertson
made use of some expressions which I hope he will swallow in the spring.
He shall see that it is neither fifteen, thirty, nor fifty of his best
horsemen that can make the Bois Brûlés bow to him. Our people at Fort
Des Prairies and English River are all to be here in the spring. It is
hoped that we shall come off with flying colours, and _never to see any
of them again in the colonizing way in Red River_.... We are to remain
at the Forks to pass the summer, for fear they should play us the same
trick as last summer of coming back; but they shall receive a warm

The details of this western expedition are well given by Lieutenant
Pierre Chrysologue Pambrun, an officer of the Canadian Voltigeurs, a
regiment which had distinguished itself in the late war against the
United States. Pambrun had entered the service of the Hudson's Bay
Company as a trader, and been sent to the Qu'Appelle district. Having
gone west to Qu'Appelle, he left that western post with five boat loads
of pemmican and furs to descend the Assiniboine River to the Forks.
Early in May, near the Grand Rapids, Pambrun and his party touched the
shore of the river, when they were immediately surrounded by a party
of Bois Brûlés and their boats and cargoes were all seized by their
assailants. The pemmican was landed and the boats taken across the
river. The unfortunate Pambrun was for five days kept in durance vile by
Cuthbert Grant and Peter Pangman, who headed the attacking party, and
the prisoner was carried back to Qu'Appelle.

While Pambrun was here as prisoner, he was frequently told by Cuthbert
Grant that the half-breeds were intending in the summer to destroy the
Red River settlements; their leader often reminded the Bois Brûlés
of this, and they frequently sang their war songs to waken ardour
for the expeditions. Captors and prisoner shortly afterward left the
western fort and went down the river to Grand Rapids. Here the captured
pemmican was re-embarked and the journey was resumed. Near the forks
of the Qu'Appelle River a band of Indians was encamped. The Indians
were summoned to meet Commander Macdonell, who spoke to them in French,
though Pangman interpreted.

"MY FRIENDS AND RELATIONS,--I address you bashfully, for I have not
a pipe of tobacco to give you. All our goods have been taken by the
English, but we are now upon a party to drive them away. Those people
have been spoiling the fair lands which belonged to you and the Bois
Brûlés, and to which they have no right. They have been driving away the
buffalo. You will soon be poor and miserable if the English stay. But we
will drive them away if the Indians do not, for the North-West Company
and the Bois Brûlés are one. If you (speaking to the chief) and some of
your young men will join I shall be glad."

The chief responded coldly and gave no assistance.

Next morning the Indians departed, and the party proceeded on their
journey. Pambrun was at first left behind, but in the evening was given
a spare horse and overtook Grant's cavalcade at the North-West Fort near
Brandon House. At the North-West Fort Pambrun saw tobacco, carpenters'
tools, a quantity of furs, and other things which had been seized in the
Hudson's Bay Fort, Brandon House, and been brought over as booty to the

Resuming their journey the traders kept to their boats down the
Assiniboine, while the Bois Brûlés went chiefly on horseback until they
reached Portage La Prairie. Sixty miles had yet to be traversed before
the Forks were reached. The Bois Brûlés now prepared their mounted
force. Cuthbert Grant was Commander. Dressed in the picturesque garb of
the country, the Metis now arrived with guns, pistols, lances, bows,
and arrows. Pambrun remained behind with Alexander Macdonell, but was
clearly led to believe that the mounted force would enter Fort Douglas
and destroy the settlement. On their fleet Indian ponies these children
of the prairie soon made their journey from Portage La Prairie to the
Selkirk settlement.

We are indebted to the facile narrator, John Pritchard, for an account
of their arrival and their attack. He states that in June, 1816, he was
living at Red River, and quite looked for an attack from the western
levy just described. Watch was constantly kept from the guérite of Fort
Douglas for the approaching foe. The half-breeds turned aside from the
Assiniboine some four miles up the River to a point a couple of miles
below Fort Douglas. Governor Semple and his attendants followed them
with the glass in their route across the plain. The Governor and about
twenty others sallied out to meet the western party. On his way out he
sent back for a piece of cannon, which was in the fort, to be brought.
Soon after this the half-breeds approached Governor Semple's party in
the form of a half moon. The Highland settlers had betaken themselves
for protection to Fort Douglas, and in their Gaelic tongue made sad

A daring fellow named Boucher then came out of the ranks of his party,
and, on horseback, approached Semple and his body-guard. He gesticulated
wildly, and called out in broken English, "What do you want? What do you
want?" Governor Semple answered, "What do _you_ want?" To this Boucher
replied, "We want our fort." The Governor said, "Well, go to your fort."
Nothing more was said, but Governor Semple was seen to put his hand on
Boucher's gun. At this juncture a shot was fired from some part of the
line, and the firing became general. Many of the witnesses who saw the
affair affirmed that the shot first fired was from the Bois Brûlés' line.

The attacking party were most deadly in their fire. Semple and his
staff, as well as others of his party, fell to the number of twenty-two.
The affair was most disastrous.

Pritchard says:--

"I did not see the Governor fall, though I saw his corpse the next day
at the fort. When I saw Captain Rogers fall I expected to share his
fate. As there was a French Canadian among those who surrounded me,
and who had just made an end of my friend, I said, 'Lavigne, you are
a Frenchman, you are a man, you are a Christian. For God's sake save
my life; for God's sake try and save it. I give myself up; I am your

To the appeals of Pritchard Lavigne responded, and, placing himself
before his friend, defended him from the infuriated half-breeds, who
would have taken his life. One Primeau wished to shoot Pritchard,
saying that the Englishman had formerly killed his brother. At length
they decided to spare Pritchard's life, though they called him a _petit
chien_, told him he had not long to live, and would be overtaken on
their return. It transpired that Governor Semple was not killed by the
first shot that disabled him, but had his thigh-bone broken. A kind
French Canadian undertook to care for the Governor, but in the fury of
the fight an Indian, who was the greatest rascal in the company, shot
the wounded man in the breast, and thus killed him instantly.

The Bois Brûlés, indeed, many of them, were disguised as Indians, and,
painted as for the war dance, gave the war whoop, and made a hideous
noise and shouting. When their victory was won they declared that their
purpose was to weaken the colony and put an end to the Hudson's Bay
Company opposition. Cuthbert Grant then proceeded to complete his work.
He declared to Pritchard that "if Fort Douglas were not immediately
given up with all the public property, instantly and without resistance,
man, woman, and child would be put to death. He stated that the attack
would be made upon it the same night, and if a single shot were fired,
that would be the signal for the indiscriminate destruction of every

This declaration of Cromwellian policy was very alarming. Pritchard
believed it meant the killing of all the women and children. He
remonstrated with the prairie leader, reminding him that the colonists
were his father's relatives. Somewhat softened by this appeal, Grant
consented to spare the lives of the settlers if all the arms and public
property were given up and the colony deserted. An inventory of property
was accordingly taken, and in the evening of the third day after the
battle, the mournful company, for a second time, like Acadian refugees,
left behind them homes and firesides and went into exile.

The joyful news was sent west by the victorious Metis. Pambrun at
Portage La Prairie received news from a messenger who had hastened away
to report to Macdonell the result of the attack. Hearing the account
given by the courier, the trader was full of glee. He announced in
French to the people who were anxiously awaiting the news, "Sacré nom
de Dieu, bonnes nouvelles, vingt-deux Anglais de tués." Those present,
especially Lamarre, Macdonell, and Sieveright, gave vent to their
feelings boisterously.

Many of the party mounted their Indian ponies and hastened to the place
of conflict; others went by water down the Assiniboine. The commander
sent word ahead that the colonists were to be detained till his arrival.
Pambrun, being taken part of the way by water, was delayed, and so was
too late in arriving to see the colonists. Cuthbert Grant and nearly
fifty of the assailing party were in the fort.

Pambrun, having obtained permission to visit Seven Oaks, the scene of
the conflict, was greatly distressed by the sight. The uncovered limbs
of many of the dead were above ground, and the bodies were in a mangled
condition. This unfortunate affair for many a day cast a reproach upon
the Nor'-Westers, although the prevailing opinion was that Grant was a
brave man and conducted himself well in the engagement.

[Illustration: SEVEN OAKS MONUMENT.]

We have now to enquire as to the movements of the expedition coming
westward from Fort William. The route of upwards of four hundred miles
was a difficult one. Accordingly, before they reached Red River,
Fort Douglas was already in the hands of the Nor'-Westers. With the
expedition from Fort William came a non-commissioned officer of the De
Meuron regiment, one of the Swiss bodies of mercenaries disbanded after
the war of 1812-15. This was Frederick Damien Huerter. His account is
circumstantial and clear. He had, as leading a military life, entered
the service of the Nor'-Westers, and coming west to Lake Superior,
followed the leadership of the fur trader Alexander Norman McLeod and
two of the officers of his old regiment, Lieutenants Missani and Brumby.

Arriving at Fort William, a short time was given for providing the party
with arms and equipment, and soon the lonely voyageurs, on this occasion
in a warlike spirit, were paddling themselves over the fur traders'
route in five large north canoes.

On the approach to Rainy Lake Fort, as many of the party as were
soldiers dressed in full regimentals, in order to impress upon the
Indians that they had the King's authority. Strong drink and tobacco
were a sufficient inducement to about twenty of the Indians to join the
expedition. On the day before the fight at Seven Oaks, the party had
arrived at the fort known as Bas de la Rivière, near Lake Winnipeg.
Guns and two small brass field-pieces, three pounders, were put in
order, and the company crossed to the mouth of the Red River, ascended
to Nettley Creek, and there bivouacked, forty miles from the scene of
action and two days after the skirmish. They had expected here to meet
the Qu'Appelle brigade of Cuthbert Grant. No doubt this was the original
plan, but the rashness of the Governor and the hot blood of the Metis
had brought on the engagement, with the result we have seen.

Knowing nothing of the fight, the party started to ascend the river,
and soon met seven or eight boats, laden with colonists, under the
command of the sheriff of the Red River settlement. McLeod then heard of
the fight, ordered the settlers ashore, examined all the papers among
their baggage, and took possession of all letters, account books, and
documents whatsoever. Even Governor Semple's trunks, for which there
were no keys, were broken open and examined. The colonists were then set
free and proceeded on their sad journey, Charles Grant being detailed to
seeing them safely away.

Huerter says:--

"On the 26th I went up the river to Fort Douglas. There were many of the
partners of the North-West Company with us. At Fort Douglas the brigade
was received with discharges of artillery and fire-arms. The fort was
under Mr. Alexander Macdonell, and there was present a great gathering
of Bois Brûlés, clerks, and interpreters, as well as partners of the
Company. On our arrival Archibald Norman McLeod, our leader, took the
management and direction of the fort, and all made whatever they chose
of the property it contained. The Bois Brûlés were entirely under the
orders and control of McLeod and the partners. McLeod occupied the
apartments lately belonging to Governor Semple. After my arrival I saw
all the Bois Brûlés assembled in a large outer room, which had served as
a mess-room for the officers of the colony.

"I rode the same day to the field of 'Seven Oaks,' where Governor Semple
and so many of his people had lost their lives, in company with a number
of those who had been employed on that occasion--all on horseback. At
this period, scarcely a week after June 19th, I saw a number of human
bodies scattered about the plain, and nearly reduced to skeletons, there
being then very little flesh adhering to the bones; and I was informed
on the spot that many of the bodies had been partly devoured by dogs and

There was a scene of great rejoicing the same evening at the fort,
the Bois Brûlés being painted and dancing naked, after the manner of
savages, to the great amusement of their masters.

On June 29th most of the partners and the northern brigade set off for
the rapids at the mouth of the Saskatchewan. The departure of the grand
brigade was signalized by the discharge of artillery from Fort Douglas.

The Nor'-Westers were now in the ascendant. The Bois Brûlés were
naturally in a state of exultation. Their wild Indian blood was at the
boiling point. Fort Douglas had been seized without opposition, and for
several days the most riotous scenes took place. Threats of violence
were freely indulged in against the Hudson's Bay Company, Lord Selkirk,
and the colonists. As Pritchard remarks, there was nothing now for the
discouraged settlers but to betake themselves for the second time to the
rendezvous at the north of Lake Winnipeg, and there await deliverance
at the hands of their noble patron, Lord Selkirk. The exuberance of the
French half-breeds found its way into verse. We give the chanson of
Pierre Falcon and the translation of it:--


    Voulez-vous écouter chanter une chanson de vérité?
    Le dix-neuf de Juin les Bois Brûlés sont arrivés
    Comme des braves guerriers,
    Sont arrivés à la grenouillère.

    Nous avons fait trois prisonniers
    Des Orcanais? Ils sont ici pour piller notre pays,
    Etant sur le point de débarquer,
    Deux de nos gens se sont écriés,
    "Voilà l'Anglais qui vient nous attaquer."
    Tous aussitôt nous sommes dévirés
    Pour aller les rencontrer.

    J'avons cerné la bande de grenadiers;
    Ils sont immobiles?--Ils sont démentés?
    J'avons agi comme des gens d'honneur,
    Nous envoyâmes un ambassadeur.
    "Gouverneur, voulez-vous arrêter un petit moment,
    Nous voulons vous parler."

    Le gouverneur, qui est enragé,
    Il dit à ses soldats, "Tirez."
    Le premier coup l'Anglais le tire,
    L'ambassadeur a presque manqué d'être tué,
    Le gouverneur se croyant l'empereur,
    Il agit avec rigueur,
    Le gouverneur, se croyant l'empereur,
    A son malheur agit avec trop de rigueur.

    Ayant vu passé les Bois Brûlés,
    Il a parti pour nous épouvanter.
    Il s'est trompé; il s'est bien fait tuer
    Quantité de ses grenadiers.

    J'avons tué presque toute son armée;
    De la bande quatre de cinq se sont sauvés
    Si vous aviez vu les Anglais
    Et tous les Bois Brûlés après--
    De butte en butte les Anglais culbutaient;
    Les Bois Brûlés jetaient des cris de joie.

    Qui en a composé la chanson?
    C'est Pierre Falcon, le bon garçon.
    Elle a été faite et composée
    Sur la victoire qui nous avons gagnée.
    Elle a été faite et composée.
    Chantons la gloire de tous ces Bois Brûlés.


    Come, listen to this song of truth,
    A song of brave Bois Brûlés,
    Who at Frog Plain took three captives,
    Strangers come to rob our country.

    Where dismounting there to rest us,
    A cry is raised, "The English!
    They are coming to attack us."
    So we hasten forth to meet them.

    I looked upon their army,
    They are motionless and downcast;
    So, as honour would incline us,
    We desire with them to parley.

    But their leader, moved with anger,
    Gives the word to fire upon us;
    And imperiously repeats it,
    Rushing on to his destruction.

    Having seen us pass his stronghold,
    He has thought to strike with terror
    The Bois Brûlés.--Ah! mistaken,
    Many of his soldiers perish.

    But a few escaped the slaughter,
    Rushing from the field of battle;
    Oh, to see the English fleeing!
    Oh, the shouts of their pursuers!

    Who has sung this song of triumph?
    The good Pierre Falcon has composed it,
    That his praise of these Bois Brûlés
    Might be evermore recorded.



     The Earl in Montreal--Alarming news--Engages a body of
     Swiss--The De Meurons--Embark for the North-West--Kawtawabetay's
     story--Hears of Seven Oaks--Lake Superior--Lord Selkirk--A doughty
     Douglas--Seizes Fort William--Canoes upset and Nor'-Westers
     drowned--"A Banditti"--The Earl's blunder--A winter march--Fort
     Douglas recaptured--His Lordship soothes the settlers--An Indian
     Treaty--"The Silver Chief"--The Earl's note-book.

The sad story of the beleaguered and excited colonists reached the ears
of Lord Selkirk through his agents. The trouble threatening his settlers
determined the energetic founder to visit Canada for himself, and, if
possible, the infant colony. Accordingly, late in the year 1815, in
company with his family--consisting of the Countess, his son, and two
daughters--he reached Montreal. The news of the first dispersion of the
colonists, their flight to Norway House, and the further threatenings
of the Bois Brûlés, arrived about the time of their coming to New York.
Lord Selkirk hastened on to Montreal, but it was too late in the season,
being about the end of October, to penetrate to the interior.

He must winter in Montreal. He was here in the very midst of the enemy.
With energy, characteristic of the man, he brought the matter of
protection of his colony urgently before the Government of Lower Canada.
In a British colony surely the rights of property of a British subject
would be protected, and surely the safety of hundreds of loyal people
could not be trifled with. As we shall see in a later chapter, the
high-minded nobleman counted without his host; he had but to live a few
years in the New World of that day to find how skilfully the forms of
law can be adapted to carry out illegal objects and shield law-breakers.

As early as February of that year (1815), dreading the threatenings
even then made by the North-West Company, he had represented to Lord
Bathurst, the British Secretary of State, the urgent necessity of an
armed force, not necessarily very numerous, being sent to the Red River
settlement to maintain order in the colony. Now, after the outrageous
proceedings of the summer of 1815 and the arrival of the dreary
intelligence from Red River, Lord Selkirk again brings the matter before
the authorities, this time before Sir Gordon Drummond, Governor of Lower
Canada, and encloses a full account of the facts as to the expulsion
of the settlers from their homes, and of the many acts of violence
perpetrated at Red River.

Nothing being gained in this way, his Lordship determined to undertake
an expedition himself, as soon as it could be organized, and carry
assistance to his persecuted people, who, he knew, had been gathered
together by Colin Robertson, and to whom he had sent as Governor,
Mr. Semple, in whom he reposed great confidence. We have seen that
during the winter of 1815-16, peace and a certain degree of confidence
prevailed among the settlers, more than half of whom were spending their
first winter in the country. Fort Douglas was regarded as strong enough
to resist a considerable attack, and the presence of Governor Semple,
a military officer, was thought a guarantee for the protection of the
people. During the winter, however, Lord Selkirk learned enough to
assure him that the danger was not over--that, indeed, a more determined
attack than ever would be made as soon as the next season should open.
He had been sworn in as a Justice of the Peace in Upper Canada and for
the Indian territories; he had obtained for his personal protection from
the Governor the promise of a sergeant and six men of the British army
stationed in Canada, but this was not sufficient.

He undertook a plan of placing upon his own land in the colony a number
of persons as settlers who could be called upon in case of emergency, as
had been the intention in the case of the Highland colonists, to whom
muskets had been furnished. The close of the Napoleonic wars had left a
large number of the soldiers engaged in these wars out of employment,
the British Government having been compelled to reduce the size of the
army. During the Napoleonic wars a number of soldiers of adventure from
Switzerland and Italy, captured by Britain in Spain, entered her service
and were useful troops. Two of these regiments, one named "De Meuron,"
and the other "Watteville," had been sent to Canada to assist in the
war against the United States. This war being now over also, orders
came to Sir Gordon Drummond to disband the two regiments in May, 1815.
The former of the regiments was at the time stationed at Montreal, the
latter at Kingston.

From these bodies of men Lord Selkirk undertook to provide his colony
with settlers willing to defend it. The enemies of Lord Selkirk have
been very free in their expression of opinion as to the worthlessness of
these soldiers and their unfitness as settlers. It is worthy of notice,
however, that the Nor'-Westers did not scruple to use Messrs. Missani
and Brumby, as well as Reinhard and Huerter of the same corps, to carry
out their own purposes. The following order, given by Sir John Coape
Sherbrooke, effectually disposes of such a calumny:--

                                              "Quebec, July 26th, 1816.

   "In parting with the regiments 'De Meuron' and 'Watteville,'
   both of which corps his Excellency has had the good fortune
   of having under his command in other parts of the world, Sir
   John Sherbrooke desires Lieutenant-Colonel De Meuron and
   Lieutenant-Colonel May, and the officers and men of these corps
   will accept his congratulations on having, by their conduct in
   the Canadas, maintained the reputation which they have deservedly
   acquired by their former services. His Excellency can have no
   hesitation in saying that his Majesty's service in these provinces
   has derived important advantages during the late war from the
   steadiness, discipline, and efficiency of these corps.

                                 "J. HARVEY, Lieutenant-Colonel, D.A.G."

Testimony to the same effect is given by the officer in command of the
garrison of Malta, on their leaving that island to come to Canada.

These men afforded the material for Lord Selkirk's purpose, viz. to
till the soil and protect the colony. Like a wise man, however, he made
character the ground of engagement in the case of all whom he took. To
those who came to terms with him he agreed to give a sufficient portion
of land, agricultural implements, and as wages for working the boats on
the voyage eight dollars a month. It was further agreed that should any
choose to leave Red River on reaching it, they should be taken back by
his Lordship free of expense.

Early in June, 1816, four officers and about eighty men of the "De
Meurons" left Montreal in Lord Selkirk's employ and proceeded westward
to Kingston. Here twenty more of the "Watteville" regiment joined
their company. Thence the expedition, made up by the addition of one
hundred and thirty canoe-men, pushed on to York (Toronto), and from York
northward to Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay.

Across this Bay and Lake Huron they passed rapidly on to Sault Ste.
Marie, Lord Selkirk leaving the expedition before reaching that place
to go to Drummond's Isle, which was the last British garrison in Upper
Canada, and at which point he was to receive the sergeant and six men
granted for his personal protection by the Governor of Canada. At
Drummond's Island a council was held with Kawtawabetay, an Ojibway
chief, by the Indian Department, Lieut.-Colonel Maule, of the 104th
Regiment, presiding. Kawtawabetay there informed the council that in the
spring of 1815 two North-West traders, McKenzie and Morrison, told him
that they would give him and his people all the goods or merchandise and
rum that they had at Fort William, Leach Lake, and Sand Lake, if he, the
said Kawtawabetay, and his people would make and declare war against the
settlers in Red River. On being asked by the chief whether this was at
the request of the "great chiefs" at Montreal or Quebec, McKenzie and
Morrison said it was solely from the North-West Company's agents, who
wished the settlement destroyed, as it was an annoyance to them. The
chief further stated that the last spring (1816), whilst at Fond Du Lac
Superior, a Nor'-Wester agent (Grant) offered him two kegs of rum and
two carrots of tobacco if he would send some of his young men in search
of certain persons employed in taking despatches to the Red River,
pillage these bearers of despatches of the letters and papers, and kill
them should they make any resistance. The chief stated he had refused to
have anything to do with these offers. On being asked in the council by
Lord Selkirk, who was present, as to the feelings of the Indians towards
the settlers at Red River, he said that at the commencement of the Red
River settlement some of the Indians did not like it, but at present
they are all glad of its being settled.

Lord Selkirk soon hastened on and overtook his expedition at Sault Ste.
Marie, now consisting of two hundred and fifty men all told, and these
being maintained at his private expense. They immediately proceeded
westward, intending to go to the extreme point of Lake Superior, near
where the town of Duluth now stands, and where the name Fond du Lac
is still retained. The expedition would then have gone north-westward
through what is now Minnesota to Red Lake, from which point a descent
could have been made by boat, through Red Lake River and Red River
to the very settlement itself. This route would have avoided the
Nor'-Westers altogether.

Westward bound, the party had little more than left Sault Ste. Marie,
during the last week of July, when they were met on Lake Superior by
two canoes, in one of which was Miles Macdonell, former Governor of
Red River, who brought the sad intelligence of the second destruction
of the colony and of the murder of Governor Semple and his attendants.
His Lordship was thrown into the deepest despair. The thought of his
Governor killed, wholesale murder committed, the poor settlers led
by him from the Highland homes, where life at least was safe, to
endure such fear and privation, was indeed a sore trial. To any one
less moved by the spirit of philanthropy, it must have been a serious
disappointment, but to one feeling so thorough a sympathy for the
suffering and who was himself the very soul of honour, it was a crushing

He resolved to change his course and to go to Fort William, the
headquarters of the Nor'-Westers. He now determined to act in his office
as magistrate, and sought to induce two gentlemen of Sault Ste. Marie,
Messrs. Ermatinger and Askin, both magistrates, to accompany him in
that capacity. They were unable to go. Compelled to proceed alone, he
writes from Sault Ste. Marie, on July 29th, to Sir John Sherbrooke, and
after speaking of his failure to induce the two gentlemen mentioned by
him to go, says, "I am therefore reduced to the alternative of acting
alone, or of allowing an audacious crime to pass unpunished. In these
circumstances I cannot doubt that it is my duty to act, though I am
not without apprehension that the law may be openly resisted by a set
of people who have been accustomed to consider force as the only true
criterion of right."

One would have said, on looking at the matter dispassionately, that the
Governor-General, with a military force so far west as Drummond Isle in
Georgian Bay, would have taken immediate steps to bring to justice the

Governor Sherbrooke seems to have felt himself powerless, for he says
in a despatch to Lord Bathurst, "I beg leave to call your Lordship's
serious attention to the forcible and, I fear, too just description
given by the Earl of Selkirk of the state of the Red River territory. I
leave to your Lordship to judge whether a banditti such as he describes
will yield to the influence, or be intimidated by the menaces of distant
authority." It may be well afterwards to contrast this statement of the
Governor's with subsequent despatches. It must not be forgotten that
while "the banditti" was pursuing its course of violence in the far-off
territory, and, as has been stated, thoroughly under the direction and
encouragement of the North-West Company partners, the leading members of
this Company, who held, many of them, high places in society and in the
Government in Montreal, were posing as the lovers of peace and order,
and were lamenting over the excesses of the Indians and Bois Brûlés. By
this course they were enabled to thwart any really effective measures
towards restoring peace at the far-away "seat of war."

The action of the North-West Company may be judged from the following
extracts from a letter of the Hon. John Richardson, one of the partners,
and likewise a member of the executive council of Lower Canada,
addressed to Governor Sherbrooke. He says on August 17th, 1816: "It is
with much concern that I have to mention that blood has been shed at
the Red River to an extent greatly to be deplored; but it is consolatory
to those interested in the North-West Company to find that none of their
traders or people were concerned, or at the time within a hundred miles
of the scene of contest." What a commentary on such a statement are the
stories of Pambrun and Huerter, given in a previous chapter! What a
cold-blooded statement after all the plottings and schemes of the whole
winter before the attack! What a heartless falsehood as regards the
Indians, who, under so great temptations, refused to be partners in so
bloody an enterprise!

The resolution of Lord Selkirk to go to Fort William in the capacity of
a magistrate was one involving, as he well knew, many perils. He was
not, however, the man to shrink from a daring enterprise having once
undertaken it.

To Fort William, then, with the prospect of meeting several hundreds
of the desperate men of the North-West Company, Lord Selkirk made his
way. So confident was he in the rectitude of his purpose and in the
justice of his cause, that he pushed forward, and without the slightest
hesitation encamped upon the Kaministiquia, on the south side of the
river, in sight of Fort William. The expedition arrived on August 12th.
A demand was at once made on the officers of the North-West Company for
the release of a number of persons who had been captured at Red River
after the destruction of the colony and been brought to Fort William.
The Nor'-Westers denied having arrested these persons, and to give
colour to this assertion immediately sent them over to Lord Selkirk's

On the 13th and following days of the month of August, the depositions
of a number of persons were taken before his Lordship as a justice
of the peace. The depositions related to the guilt of the several
Nor'-Wester partners, their destroying the settlement, entering and
removing property from Fort Douglas, and the like; and were made by
Pambrun, Lavigne, Nolin, Blondeau, Brisbois, and others. It was made
so clear to Lord Selkirk that the partners were guilty of inciting the
attacks on the colony and of approving the outrages committed, that he
determined to arrest a number of the leaders. This was done by regular
process--by warrants served on Mr. McGillivray, Kenneth McKenzie, Simon
Fraser, and others, but these prisoners were allowed to remain in Fort

In one case, that of a partner named John McDonald, resistance having
been offered, the constables called for the aid of a party of the De
Meurons, who had crossed over from the encampment with them in their
boats. The leaving of the prisoners with their liberty in Fort William,
however, gave the opportunity for conspiracy; and it was represented
to Lord Selkirk that Fort William would be used for the purposes of
resistance, and that the prisoners arrested would be released. The facts
leading to this belief were that a canoe, laden with arms, had left
the fort at night; that eight barrels of gunpowder had been secreted
in a thicket, and that these had been taken from the magazine; while
some forty stand of arms, fresh-loaded, had been found in a barn among
some hay. These indications proved that an attempt was about to be
made to resist the execution of the law, and accordingly the prisoners
were placed in one building and closely guarded, while Lord Selkirk's
encampment was removed across the river and pitched in front of the fort
to prevent any surprise.

A further examination of the prisoners took place, and their criminality
being so evident, they were sent to York, Upper Canada. Three canoes,
well manned and containing the prisoners, left the fort on August
18th, under the charge of Lieutenant Fauche, one of the De Meuron
officers. The journey down the lakes was marred by a most unfortunate
accident. One of the canoes was upset some fifteen miles from Sault Ste.
Marie. This was caused by the sudden rise in the wind. The affair was
purely accidental, and there were drowned one of the prisoners, named
McKenzie, a sergeant and a man of the De Meurons, and six Indians.
The prisoners were taken to Montreal and admitted to bail. The course
taken by Lord Selkirk at Fort William has been severely criticized, and
became, indeed, the subject of subsequent legal proceedings. One of the
Nor'-Wester apologists stated to Governor Sherbrooke "that the mode of
proceeding under Lord Selkirk's orders resembled nothing British, and
exceeded even the military despotism of the French in Holland."

No doubt it would have been better had Lord Selkirk obtained other
magistrates to take part in the proceedings at Fort William, but we
have seen he did try this and failed. Had it been possible to have had
the arrests effected without the appearance of force made by the De
Meurons, it would have been more agreeable to our ideas of ordinary
legal proceedings; but it must be remembered he was dealing with those
called by a high authority "a banditti." Could Fort William have been
left in the hands of its possessors, it would have been better; but
then there was clear evidence that the Nor'-Westers intended violence.
To have left Fort William in their possession would have been suicidal.
It would probably have been better that Lord Selkirk should not have
stopped the canoes going into the interior with North-West merchandise,
but to have allowed them to proceed was only to have assisted his
enemies--the enemies, moreover, of law and order. Thousands of pounds'
worth of his property stolen from Fort Douglas by the agents of the
North-West Company, and the fullest evidence in the depositions made
before him that this was in pursuance of a plan devised by the Company
and deliberately carried out! Several hundreds of lawless voyageurs
and unscrupulous partners ready to use violence in the wild region of
Lake Superior, where, during fifty years preceding, they had committed
numerous acts of bloodshed, and had never been called to account! The
worrying reflection that homeless settlers and helpless women and
children were crying, in some region then unknown to him, for his
assistance, after their wanton dispersion by their enemies from their
homes on the banks of Red River! All these things were sufficient to
nerve to action one of far less generous impulses than Lord Selkirk.

Is it at all surprising that his Lordship did not act with all the
calmness and scrupulous care of a judge on the bench, who, under
favourable circumstances, feels himself strong in his consciousness of
safety, supported by the myriad officers of the law, and surrounded by
the insignia of Justice? The justification of his course, even if it
be interpreted adversely, is, that in a state of violence, to preserve
the person is a preliminary to the settlement of other questions of
personal right. One thing at least is to Lord Selkirk's credit, that,
as soon as possible, he handed over the law-breakers to be dealt with
by the Canadian Courts, where, however, unfortunately, another divinity
presided than the blind goddess of Justice.

Let us now see where we are in our story. Lord Selkirk is at Fort
William. The Nor'-Wester partners have been sent to the East. It is
near the end of August, and the state of affairs at Fort William does
not allow the founder to pass on to his colony for the winter. He is
surrounded by his De Meuron settlers. During the months of autumn the
expedition is engaged in laying in supplies for the approaching winter,
and opening up roads toward the Red River country. The season was spent
in the usual manner of the Lake Superior country, shut out from the
rest of the world. The winter over, Lord Selkirk started on May 1st,
1817, for Red River, accompanied by his body-guard. The De Meurons had
preceded him in the month of March, and, reaching the interior, restored

The colonizer arrived at his colony in the last week of June, and saw,
for the first time, the land of his dreams for the preceding fifteen
years. In order to restore peace, he endeavoured to carry out the
terms of the proclamation issued by the Government of Canada, that all
property taken during the troubles should be restored to its original
owners. This restitution was made to a certain extent, though much that
had been taken from Fort Douglas was never recovered. The settlers were
brought back from their refuge at Norway House, and the settlement
was again organized. The colonists long after related, with great
satisfaction, how Lord Selkirk cheered them by his presence. After their
return to their despoiled homesteads a gathering of the settlers took
place, and a full consideration of all their affairs was had in their
patron's presence.

This gathering was at the spot where the church and burying-ground of
St. John's are now found. "Here," said his Lordship, pointing to lot
number four, on which they stood, "here you shall build your church;
and that lot," said he, pointing to lot number three across the little
stream called Parsonage Creek, "is for the school." The people then
reminded his Lordship that he had promised them a minister, who should
follow them to their adopted country. This he at once acknowledged,
saying, "Selkirk never forfeited his word;" while he promised to give
the matter attention as soon as practicable. In addition, Lord Selkirk
gave a document stating that, "in consideration of the hardships which
the settlers had suffered, in consequence of the lawless conduct of
the North-West Company, his intention was to grant gratuitously the
twenty-four lots which had been occupied to those of the settlers who
had made improvements on their lands before they were driven away from
them in the previous year."

Before the dispersion of this public gathering of the people, the
founder gave the name, at the request of the colonists, to their
settlement. The name given by him to this first parish in Rupert's Land
was that of Kildonan, from their old home in the valley of Helmsdale,
in Sutherlandshire, Scotland. In more fully organizing the colony, his
Lordship ordered a complete survey to be made of the land, and steps to
be taken towards laying out roads, building bridges, erecting mills, &c.

It will be remembered, as already stated, that at the inception of the
colony scheme, in 1811, the Nor'-Westers had threatened the hostility of
the Indians. It may be mentioned as a strange fact that, to this day, it
is a trick of the Bois Brûlés, taking their cue from the Nor'-Westers,
when making any demand, to threaten the Government with the wrath of the
Indians, over whom they profess to exercise a control. We have already
seen that the Nor'-Westers' boast as to their influence over the Indians
was empty. In the publications of the Nor'-Westers of 1816-20 a speech
is sometimes set forth of an Indian chief, "Grandes Oreilles," breathing
forth threatenings against the infant settlement. It is worthy of notice
that even this resource is swept away by the author of the speech, a
Nor'-Wester trader, confessing that he had manufactured the speech and
"Grandes Oreilles" had never spoken it.

Within three weeks of his arrival at Red River Lord Selkirk carried
out his promise of making a treaty with the Indians. All the Indians
were most willing to do this, as on many occasions during the troubles
they had, by giving early information as to the movements of the
Nor'-Westers, and by other means, shown their sympathy and feeling
toward the settlers. The object of the treaty was simply to do what
has since been done all over the north-west territories--to extinguish
the Indian title. The treaty is signed alike by Ojibway, Cree, and
Assiniboine chiefs, the last mentioned being a tribe generally
considered to belong to the Sioux stock. Lord Selkirk afterwards made
a treaty, on leaving the Red River, with the other Sioux nations
inhabiting his territory. The chiefs were met at Red River by his
Lordship, and those whose names are attached to the treaty are, giving
their French names in some cases as shorter than the Indian, Le Sonent,
Robe Noire, Peguis, L'Homme Noir, and Grandes Oreilles. His Lordship
seems to have had a most conciliatory and attractive manner. It is worth
while closing this chapter by giving extracts from the speeches of these
Indian chiefs, taken down at the grand council at which Lord Selkirk
smoked the pipe of peace with the assembled warriors.

Peguis, the Saulteaux chief, always the fast friend of the colonists,
said, "When the English settlers first came here we received them with
joy. It was not our fault if even the stumps of the brushwood were
too rough for their feet; but misfortunes have since overtaken them.
Evil-disposed men came here, calling themselves great chiefs, sent from
our Great Father across the big lake, but we believe they were only
traders, pretending to be great chiefs on purpose to deceive us. They
misled the young men who are near us (a small party of Bois Brûlés
encamped in the neighbourhood), and employed them to shed the blood of
your children and to drive away the settlers from this river. We do not
acknowledge these men as an independent tribe. They have sprung up here
and there like mushrooms and we know them not.

"At the first arrival of the settlers we were frequently solicited by
the North-West Company to frighten them away; but we were pleased to see
that our Great Father had sent some of his white children to live among
us, and we refused to do or say anything against them. The traders even
demanded our calumets, and desired to commit our sentiments to paper,
that they might send to our Great Father; but we refused to acknowledge
the speeches which they wished to put into our mouths. We are informed
that they have told a tale that it was the Indians who drove away and
murdered the children of our Great Father, but it is a falsehood.

"As soon as I saw the mischief that happened I went to Lake Winnipeg
with a few friends to wait for news from the English, but I could meet
none. We have reasons to be friends of the colony. When there were only
traders here we could not get a blanket, or a piece of cloth, without
furs to give in exchange. Our country is now almost destitute of furs,
so that we were often in want; from the people of the colony we get
blankets and cloth for the meat we procure them. The country abounds
with meat, which we can obtain, but to obtain furs is difficult."

Next, L'Homme Noir, a chief of the Assiniboines, who had come from a
long distance, addressing Lord Selkirk, particularly declares, "we were
often harassed with solicitations to assist the Bois Brûlés in what they
have done against your children, but we always refused. We are sure you
must have had much trouble to come here. We have often been told you
were our enemy; but we have to-day the happiness to hear from your own
mouth the words of a true friend. We receive the present you give us
with great pleasure and thankfulness."

After this, Robe Noire, an Ojibway chief, spoke in like terms; when the
veritable Grandes Oreilles, to whose spurious war speech we have already
referred, said as follows:--

"I am happy to see here our own father. Clouds have overwhelmed me. I
was a long time in doubt and difficulty, but now I begin to see clearly.

"We have reason to be happy this day. We know the dangers you must
have encountered to come so far. The truth you have spoken pleases us.
We thank you for the present you give us. There seems an end to our
distress, and it is you who have relieved us.

"When our young men are drunk they are mad; they know not what they say
or what they do; but this must not be attended to; they mean no harm."

Long after, Selkirk was remembered and beloved by these Indian tribes,
who spoke of him as the "Silver Chief."

So much for the founder's work in his colony in 1817. His affairs
urgently required attention elsewhere. In the language of a writer of
the period, "having thus restored order, infused confidence in the
people, and given a certain aid to their activity, Lord Selkirk took
his final leave of the colony." With a guide and a few attendants he
journeyed southward, passing through the country of the warlike Sioux,
with whom he made peace.

The writer had at one time in his possession a note-book with, in Lord
Selkirk's writing, an itinerary of his journey from Red River Colony,
in which familiar names, such as Rivière Sale, Rivière Aux Gratias,
Pembina, and the like, appear with their distances in leagues. Among
other memoranda is one, "lost on the Prairie," and the distance in
leagues estimated as lost by the misadventure. Every traveller over the
Manitoba prairie will take a feeling interest in that entry.

Passing through the Mississippi country, he seems to have proceeded
eastward to Washington; he next appears in Albany, and hastens back to
Upper Canada, without even visiting his family in Montreal, though he
had been absent from them for upwards of a year. In Upper Canada his
presence was urgently needed to meet the artful machinations of his



     British law disgraced--Governor Sherbrooke's distress--A
     Commission decided on--Few unbiassed Canadians--Colonel Coltman
     chosen--Over ice and snow--Alarming rumours--The Prince
     Regent's order--Coltman at Red River--The Earl submissive--The
     Commissioner's report admirable--The celebrated Reinhart
     case--Disturbing lawsuits--Justice perverted--A store-house of
     facts--Sympathy of Sir Walter Scott--Lord Selkirk's death--Tomb at
     Orthes, in France.

The state of things in Rupert's Land in 1816 was a disgrace to British
institutions. That subjects of the realm, divided into two parties,
should be virtually carrying on war against each other on British soil,
was simply intolerable. Not only was force being used, but warrants were
being issued and the forms of law employed on both sides to carry out
the selfish ends of each party. An impartial historian cannot but say
that both parties were chargeable with grievous wrong.

Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, Governor-General of Canada, felt very keenly
the shameful situation, and yet the difficulties of transport and the
remote distance of the interior where the conflict was taking place made
interference almost impossible. He was in constant communication with
Lord Bathurst, the Imperial Colonial Secretary.

Governor Sherbrooke's difficulties were, however, more than those of
distance. The influence of the North-West Company in Canada was supreme,
and public sentiment simply reflected the views of the traders. The plan
of sending a commission to the interior to stop hostilities and examine
the conflicting statements which were constantly coming to the Governor,
seemed the most feasible; but with his sense of British fair-play,
Governor Sherbrooke knew he could find no one suitable to recommend.

At last, driven to take some action, Sir John named Mr. W. B. Coltman,
a merchant of Quebec and a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Militia, a man
accustomed to Government matters, and one who bore a good reputation for
fairness and justice. With this Commissioner, who did not enter on his
task with much alacrity, was associated Major Fletcher, a man of good
legal qualifications.

The Commissioners were instructed to proceed immediately to the
North-West. They were invested with the power of magistrates, and were
authorized to make a thorough investigation into the troubles which were
disturbing the country. "You are particularly," say the instructions,
"to apply yourselves to mediate between the contending parties in the
aforesaid territories; to remove, as far as possible, all causes of
dissension between them; to take all legal measures to prevent the
recurrence of those violences which have already so unhappily disturbed
the public peace; and generally to enforce and establish, within the
territory where you shall be, the influence and authority of the laws."

Various accidents prevented the Commissioners from leaving for the
Indian country as soon as had been expected. They did not reach York
(Toronto) till November 23rd, and on their arriving on the shores of
Lake Huron they found the lake frozen over and impassable. They could
do nothing themselves other than return to York, but they succeeded in
fitting out an expedition under North-Western auspices to find its way
over the ice and snow to Fort William, carrying the revocation of all
the commissions of magistrates west of Sault Ste. Marie and the news of
the new appointments in their stead. Reports during the winter continued
to be of a disquieting kind, and as the spring drew nigh, preparations
were made for sending up the Commissioners with a small armed force.

The gravity of the situation may be judged from the steps taken
by the Imperial Government and the instructions sent out by the
authority of George, the Prince Regent, to Governor Sherbrooke to
issue a proclamation in his name calling on all parties to desist from
hostilities, and requiring all military officers or men employed by any
of the parties to immediately retire from such service. All property,
including forts or trading stations, was to be immediately restored to
the rightful owners, and any impediment or blockade preventing transport
to be at once removed.

It is worthy of note that the proclamation and instructions given had
the desired effect. Coltman and his fellow Commissioner left in May for
the field of their operations, accompanied by forty men of the 37th
Regiment as a body-guard. On arriving at Sault Ste. Marie, Commissioner
Coltman, after waiting two or three weeks, hastened on to Fort William,
leaving Fletcher and the troops to follow him. On July 2nd he wrote from
the mouth of the River Winnipeg, stating that his presence had no doubt
tended to preserve peace in the North-West, and that in two days he
would see Lord Selkirk in his own Fort Douglas at Red River.

Three days after the despatch of this letter, Commissioner Coltman
arrived at Red River. He immediately grappled with the difficulties and
met them with much success. The news of Lord Selkirk's actions had all
arrived at Montreal through the North-West sources, so that both in
Quebec and London a strong prejudice had sprung up against his Lordship.
Colonel Coltman found, however, that Lord Selkirk had been much
misrepresented. The illegal seizures he had made at Fort William were
dictated only by prudence in dealing with what he considered a daring
and treacherous enemy. He had submitted to the ordinance recalling
magistrates' commissions immediately on receiving it. Colonel Coltman
was so impressed with Lord Selkirk's reasonableness and good faith that
he recommended that the legal charges made against him should not be
proceeded with.

Colonel Coltman then started on his return journey, and wrote that
he had stopped at the mouth of the Winnipeg River for the purpose of
investigating the conspiracy, in which he states he fears the North-West
Company had been implicated, to destroy the Selkirk settlement. The
energetic Commissioner returned to Quebec in November of that year.
Governor Sherbrooke had the satisfaction of reporting to Lord Bathurst
the return of Mr. Coltman from his mission to the Indian territories,
and "that the general result of his exertions had been so far
successful, that he had restored a degree of tranquillity there which
promises to continue during the winter."

Colonel Coltman's report, of about one hundred folio pages, is an
admirable one. His summary of the causes and events of the great
struggle between the Companies is well arranged and clearly stated. The
writer, in an earlier work, strongly took up Lord Selkirk's view of
the case, and criticised Coltman. Subsequent investigations and calmer
reflection have led him to the conclusion that while Lord Selkirk was in
the right and exhibited a high and noble character, yet the provoking
circumstances came from both directions, and Colonel Coltman's account
seems fairly impartial.

The cessation of hostilities brought about by the influence of Colonel
Coltman did not, however, bring a state of peace. The conflict was
transferred to the Courts of Lower and Upper Canada, these having been
given power some time before by the Imperial Parliament to deal with
cases in the Indian territories.

A _cause célèbre_ was that of the trial of Charles Reinhart, an employé
of the North-West Company, who had been a sergeant in the disbanded
De Meuron Regiment. Having gone to the North-West, he was during the
troubles given charge of a Hudson's Bay Company official named Owen
Keveny, against whom it was urged that he had maltreated a servant of
the North-West Company. In bringing Keveny down from Lake Winnipeg to
Rat Portage, it was brought against Reinhart that at a place called the
Falls of the River Winnipeg, he had brutally killed the prisoner under
his charge. While Lord Selkirk was at Fort William, Reinhart arrived
at that point and made a voluntary confession before his Lordship as
a magistrate. This case was afterwards tried at Quebec and gave rise
to an argument as to the jurisdiction of the Court, viz. whether the
point where the murder occurred on the River Winnipeg was in Upper
Canada, Lower Canada, or the Indian territories. Though Reinhart was
found guilty, sentence was not carried out, probably on account of the
uncertainty of jurisdiction. The Reinhart case became an important
precedent in settling the boundary line of Upper Canada, and also in
dealing with the troubles arising out of the Riel rebellion of 1869.

In the year after Colonel Coltman's return, numerous cases were referred
to the Courts, all these arising out of the violence at Red River.
Colonel Coltman had bound Lord Selkirk, though only accused of an
offence amounting to a misdemeanour, in the large sum of 6,000_l._ and
under two sureties of 3,000_l._ each--in all 12,000_l._ Mr. Gale, Lord
Selkirk's legal adviser, called attention to the illegality of this
proceeding, but all to no effect.

After Lord Selkirk had settled up his affairs with his colonists, he
journeyed south from the Red River to St. Louis in the Western States,
and then went eastward to Albany in New York, whence he appeared in
Sandwich in Upper Canada, the circuit town where information had been
laid. Here he found four accusations made against him by the North-West
Company. These were: (1) Having stolen eighty-three muskets at Fort
William; (2) Having riotously entered Fort William, August 13th; (3)
Assault and false imprisonment of Deputy-Sheriff Smith; (4) Resistance
to legal warrant.

On these matters being taken up, the first charge was so contradictory
that the magistrates dismissed it; but the other three could not be
dealt with on account of the absence of witnesses, and so bail was
accepted from Lord Selkirk of 350_l._ for his appearance. When Lord
Selkirk presented himself at Montreal to answer to the charges for which
Colonel Coltman's heavy bail had bound him, the Court admitted it had no
jurisdiction, but with singular high-handedness bound Lord Selkirk to
appear in Upper Canada under the same bail.

In Montreal in May, 1818, an action was brought before Chief Justice
Monk and Justice Bowen against Colin Robertson and four others, charging
them with riotously destroying Fort Gibraltar, the Nor'-Wester fort.
A number of witnesses were called, including Miles Macdonell, John
Pritchard, Auguste Cadot, and others. A verdict of not guilty was

In September of the same year a charge was laid against Lord Selkirk
and others of a conspiracy to ruin the trade of the North-West Company.
This was before the celebrated Chief Justice Powell. The grand jury
refused to give the Chief Justice an answer in the case. The Court was
summarily adjourned, and legislation was introduced at the next meeting
of the Legislature of Upper Canada to remedy defects in the Act in order
that the case might be tried. Afterward the cases were taken up in York,
and Deputy-Sheriff Smith was given a verdict against Lord Selkirk for
500_l._, and McKenzie, a North-West partner, a verdict of 1,500_l._ for
false imprisonment at Fort William. The general impression has always
prevailed there that the whole procedure in these cases against Lord
Selkirk was high-handed and unjust, though it is quite possible that
Lord Selkirk had exceeded his powers in the troubled state of affairs at
Fort William.

On his Lordship's side charges were also brought in October, 1818. In
the full Court Chief Justice Powell and Justices Campbell and Boulter
presided. The most notable of these cases was against Cuthbert Grant,
Boucher, and sixteen others as either principals or accessories in the
murder of Robert Semple on June 19th, 1816. A few days later, in the
same month, a slightly different charge was brought against six of the
North-West partners in connection with the murder of Governor Semple.
Upwards of three hundred pages of evidence gave a minute and complete
account of the affair of Seven Oaks and of the whole conflict as found
in a volume of Canadian trials. In these two cases a verdict of not
guilty was also rendered.

Two other trials, one by Lord Selkirk's party against Paul Brown for
robbery of a blanket and a gun, and the other against John Cooper
and Hugh Bannerman for stealing a cannon in a dwelling-house of Lord
Selkirk, were also carried through, with in both cases a verdict of not
guilty. The evidence in these cases was printed by both parties, with
foot-notes, giving a colour to each side concerned of a more favourable

So much for this most disheartening controversy. It would be idle to
say that Lord Selkirk was faultless; but as we dispassionately read
the accounts of the trials, and consider that while Lord Selkirk was
friendless in Canada, the North-West Company had enormous influence, we
cannot resist the conclusion that advantage was taken of his Lordship,
and that justice was not done. It is true that, in the majority of
cases, the conclusion was reached that it was impossible to precisely
place the blame on either side; but we cannot be surprised that Lord
Selkirk, harassed and discouraged by the difficulties of his colony and
his treatment in the courts of Upper Canada and Lower Canada, should
write as he did in October, 1818, to the Duke of Richmond, the new
Governor-General of Canada:--

"To contend alone and unsupported, not only against a powerful
association of individuals, but also against all those whose official
duty it should have been to arrest them in the prosecution of their
crimes, was at the best an arduous task; and, however confident one
might be of the intrinsic strength of his cause, it was impossible to
feel a very sanguine expectation that this alone would be sufficient to
bear him up against the swollen tide of corruption which threatened to
overwhelm him. He knew that in persevering under existing circumstances
he must necessarily submit to a heavy sacrifice of personal comfort,
incur an expense of ruinous amount, and possibly render himself the
object of harassing and relentless persecution."

Though Lord Selkirk crossed the Atlantic in 1818, yet the sounds of the
judicial battle through which he had passed were still in his ears. In
June his friend, Sir James Montgomery, brought the matter before the
British House of Commons, moving for all the official papers in the
case. The motion was carried, and the Blue Book containing this matter
is a store-house where we may find the chief facts of this long and
heart-breaking struggle recorded.

In June, 1818, we find in a copy of a letter in the possession of the
writer, written by Sir Walter Scott, a reference to the very poor health
of his Lordship. Worn out and heart-broken by his trials, Lord Selkirk
did not rally, but in the course of a few months died at Pau, in the
South of France, April, 1820. His Countess and daughters had accompanied
him to Montreal on his Canadian visit, and they were now with him to
soothe his dying hours and to see him laid to rest in the Protestant
cemetery of Orthes.

Though he was engaged in a difficult undertaking in seeking so early
in the century to establish a colony on the Red River, and though it
has been common to represent him as being half a century before his
time, yet we cannot resist the conclusion that he was an honourable,
patriotic, and far-seeing man, and that the burden of right in this
grand conflict was on his side.



     The crisis reached--Consequences of Seven Oaks--The
     noble Earl--His generous spirit--His mistakes--Determined
     courage--Deserves the laurel crown--The first Governor--Macdonell's
     difficulties--His unwise step--A Captain in red--Cameron's
     adroitness--A wearisome imprisonment--Last governor of Fort
     Gibraltar--The Metis chief--Half-breed son of old Cuthbert--A
     daring hunter--Warden of the plains--Lord Selkirk's agent--A Red
     River patriarch--A faithful witness--The French bard--Western war
     songs--Pierriche Falcon.

The skirmish of Seven Oaks was the most notable event that ever occurred
on the prairies of Rupert's Land or in the limits of the fur country.
It was the crisis which indicated the determination of the Company,
whose years were numbered by a century and a half, to hold its own in
a great contest, and of the pluck of a British nobleman to show the
"_perfervidum ingenium Scotorum_," and unflinchingly to meet either in
arms or legal conflict the fur-trading oligarchy of that time in Canada.
It represented, too, the fierce courage and desperate resource of the
traders of the great Canadian Company, who, we have seen, were called by
Washington Irving "the lords of the lakes and forests."

It was also the _dénouement_ which led the Old and the New Worlds' fur
companies, despite the heat of passion and their warmth of sentiment, to
make a peace which saved both from impending destruction.

It led, moreover, to the sealing up for half a century of Rupert's Land
to all energetic projects and influx of population, and allowed Sir
George Simpson to build up for the time being the empire of the buffalo,
the beaver, and the fox, instead of developing a home of industry.

Crises such as this develop character and draw out the powers of men
who would otherwise waste their sweetness on the desert air. The
shock of meeting of two such great bodies as the Hudson's Bay Company
and the North-West Company enabled men to show courage, loyalty, honest
indignation, decision of character, shrewdness, diplomatic skill, and
great endurance. These are the elements of human character. It is ever
worth while to examine the motives, features of action, and ends aimed
at by men under the trying circumstances of such a conflict. At the
risk of some repetition we give sketches of the lives of several of the
leading persons concerned.


[Illustration: LORD SELKIRK.]

Chief, certainly, of the actors who appeared on this stage was Lord
Selkirk. Born to the best traditions of the Scottish nobility, Thomas
Douglas belonged to the Angus-Selkirk family, which represented the
Douglases of Border story, one of whom boasted that no ancestor of his
had for ten generations died within chambers. Lord Daer, as his title
then was, had studied at Edinburgh University, was an intimate friend of
Sir Walter Scott, and though a Lowlander, had formed a great attachment
for the Highlanders and had learned their language. He was, moreover, of
most active mind, broad sympathies, and generous impulses. At the age of
thirty years, having become Earl of Selkirk, he sought to take part in
assisting the social condition of Britain, which was suffering greatly
from the Napoleonic wars. He took a large colony of Highlanders to
Prince Edward Island, acquired land in Upper Canada and also in New York
State, and then, solely for the purpose of helping on his emigration
project, entered on the gigantic undertaking of gaining control of the
Hudson's Bay Company. In all these things he succeeded. We have seen the
conflicts into which he was led and the manly way in which he conducted

We do not say he made no mistakes. We frankly admit that he went beyond
the ordinary powers of a magistrate's commission at Fort William. But we
believe his aim was good. He was convinced that the Nor'-Westers had no
legal right to the Hudson's Bay Company lands over which they traded.
He believed them to be unscrupulous and dangerous, and his course was
taken to meet the exigency of the case. It must be remembered his
responsibility was a great one. His Highland and Irish colonists at
Red River were helpless; he was their only defence; no British law was
present at Red River to help them. They were regarded as intruders, as
enemies of the fur trade, and he felt that loyalty and right compelled
him to act as he did.

No doubt it seemed to the Canadian traders--who considered themselves as
the successors of the French who, more than three-quarters of a century
before, had established forts at what was called the post of the Western
Sea--a high-handed and even foolhardy thing to bring his colony by way
of Hudson Bay, and to plant them down at the forks on Red River, in a
remote and probably unsuccessful colony. However, in the main the legal
right was with his Lordship. The popular feeling in Canada toward Lord
Selkirk was far from being a pure one, and a fair-minded person can
hardly refrain from saying it was an interested and selfish one.

Certainly, as we see him, Lord Selkirk was a high-minded, generous,
far-seeing, adventurous, courageous, and honourable man. We may admit
that his opinion of the North-West Company opponents was a prejudiced
and often unjust one. But we linger on the picture of his Lordship
returning from Montreal with his Countess, their two young daughters,
the one afterward Lady Isabella Hope, and the other Lady Katherine
Wigram, with the young boy who grew up to be the last Earl of Selkirk;
we think of him worried by the lawsuits and penalties of which we have
spoken, going home to meet the British Government somewhat prejudiced
against him as having been a personage in what they considered a
dangerous _émeute_: we follow him passing over to France, attended
by his family, and dying in a foreign land--and we are compelled to
say, how often does the world persecute its benefactors and leave its
greatest uncrowned. The Protestant cemetery at Orthes contains the bones
of one who, under other circumstances, might have been crowned with


Engaged by Lord Selkirk to lead his first company and superintend the
planting of his colony, Capt. Miles Macdonell found himself thrust
into a position of danger and responsibility as local governor at
Red River. He was a man with a considerable experience. Of Highland
origin, he had with his father, John Macdonell, called "Scotas," from
his residence in Scotland, settled in the valley of the Mohawk River,
on the estates of Sir William Johnson, in New York State. The estates
of Sir William were a hotbed of loyalism, and here was enlisted by his
son, Sir John Johnson, under the authority of the British Government,
at the time of the American Revolution, the well-known King's Royal
Regiment of New York, familiarly known as the "Royal Greens." The
older Macdonell was a captain in this regiment, and Miles, as a boy
of fifteen, was commissioned as ensign. Afterward the young Macdonell
returned to Scotland, where he married, and again came to Canada.
Following a military career, he was engaged by Lord Selkirk shortly
before the war of 1812 to lead his colony to the Red River. We have
seen how faithfully, both at York Factory and the Red River, he served
his Lordship. The chief point in dispute in connection with Governor
Macdonell is whether the embargo against the export of supplies from
Red River in 1814 was legal or not. If it was not, then on him rests
much of the responsibility for the troubles which ensued. The seizure
of pemmican, belonging to the North-West Company, at the mouth of
the Souris River, seems to have been high-handed. Undoubtedly Miles
Macdonell believed it to be necessary for the support of the settlers
in the country. His life was one of constant worry after this event.
Reprisals began between the parties. These at length ended in Miles
Macdonell being seized by the North-West Company agents on June 22nd,
1815, and taken as a prisoner to Fort William, and thence to Montreal.
Macdonell lived upon the Ottawa till the time of his death in 1828.

He was a man of good mind and seemingly honest intentions. His military
education and experience probably gave him the habits of regularity and
decision which led to the statement made of him by the Hon. William
McGillivray, "that he conducted himself like a Turkish bashaw." The
justification of Governor Macdonell seems to be that the Nor'-Westers
had determined early in the history of the colony to destroy it, so
that the charges made against the Governor were merely an advantage
taken of disputed points. Capt. Macdonell's management at York Factory
was certainly judicious, and there seems but the one debatable point
in his administration of Red River, and that was the proclamation of
January 8th, 1814.


One of the most notable leaders on the Nor'-Wester side was Duncan
Cameron, who has the distinction of being the last commanding officer
of Fort Gibraltar. Like Miles Macdonell, Duncan Cameron was the son of
a Highland U. E. Loyalist, who had been settled on the Hudson in New
York State. He entered the North-West Company in 1785 and fourteen years
after was in charge of Nepigon district, as we have seen. He gained
much distinction for his company by his daring and skilful management
of the plan to induce the Selkirk settlers to leave Red River and
settle in Upper Canada. Coming from the meeting of the Nor'-Westers in
Grand Portage, in 1814 Cameron took up his abode in Fort Gibraltar,
and according to the story of his opponents did so with much pomp and
circumstance. Miles Macdonell says:--"Mr. Duncan Cameron arrived at
Red River, sporting a suit of military uniform, gave himself out as
captain in his Majesty's service, and acting by the King's authority for
Sir George Prevost." Every well-informed person looked upon this as a
self-created appointment, at most a North-West trick; but it had a very
considerable effect upon the lower class of people.

In regard to this the writer in his work on "Manitoba," London, 1882,
took up strong ground against Cameron. The calming influence of years,
and the contention which has been advanced that there was some ground
for Cameron claiming the commission in the "Voyageur Corps" which he
formerly held, has led the writer to modify his opinion somewhat as to

Cameron succeeded in leading away about three-quarters of the colony.
This he was appointed to do and he seems to have done it faithfully. The
means by which he appealed to the Highland colonists may have been less
dignified than might have been desired, yet his warm Highland nature
attracted his own countrymen in the settlement, and they probably needed
little persuasion to escape from their hardships to what was to them the
promised land of Upper Canada.

In the following year (1816), as already stated, Cameron was in command
of Fort Gibraltar, and it was determined by Governor Semple to destroy
the North-West fort and bring its material down the river to supplement
the colony establishment, Fort Douglas. Before this was done the same
treatment that was given to Governor Macdonell by the Nor'-Westers in
arresting him was meted out to Cameron. He was seized by Colin Robertson
and carried away to York Factory, to be taken as a prisoner to England.
This high-handed proceeding was objectionable on several grounds. The
Imperial Parliament had transferred the right of dealing with offences
committed in Rupert's Land to the Courts of Canada, so that Robertson's
action was clearly _ultra vires_. Moreover, if the Hudson's Bay Company
under its charter exercised authority, it is questionable whether that
gave the right to send a prisoner to Britain for trial, the more that no
definite charge was laid against Cameron. Certainly Cameron had reason
to complain of great injustice in this arrest. Taking him all in all, he
was a hot, impulsive Highland leader of men, persuasive and adroit, and
did not hesitate to adopt the means lying nearest to attain his purpose.
The fact that from 1823 to 1828, after he had left the Company's
service, he represented the County of Glengarry in the Upper Canadian
Legislature, shows that those who knew him best had a favourable opinion
about this last commander of Fort Gibraltar. Fort Gibraltar was never
rebuilt, its place and almost its very site under the United Company
being taken by the original Fort Garry. Sir Roderick Cameron, of New
York, who has been connected with the Australian trade, was a son of
Duncan Cameron.


The skirmish of Seven Oaks brought into view a fact that had hardly made
itself known before, viz., that a new race, the Metis, or half-breed
children of the fur traders and employés by Indian women, were becoming
a guild or body able to exert its influence and beginning to realize its

Of this rising and somewhat dangerous body a young Scottish half-breed,
Cuthbert Grant, had risen to sudden prominence as the leader. His
father, of the same name, had been a famous North-West trader, and was
looked upon as the special guardian of the Upper Assiniboine and Swan
River district. He had died in 1799, but influential as he had been, the
son became from circumstances much more so. The North-West Company knew
that the Scottish courage and endurance would stand them in good stead,
and his Indian blood would give him a great following in the country.
Educated in Montreal, he was fitted to be the leader of his countrymen.
His dash and enthusiasm were his leading characteristics. When the war
party came down from Qu'Appelle and Portage La Prairie, young Cuthbert
Grant was its natural leader. When the fight took place he was well to
the front in the _mêlée_, and it is generally argued that his influence
was exerted toward saving the wounded and preventing acts of barbarity,
such as savage races are prone to when the passions are aroused. On the
night of June 19th, when the victory had come to his party, Cuthbert
Grant took possession of Fort Douglas, and the night was one for revelry
exceeding what his Highland forbears had ever seen, or equal to any
exultation of the Red man in his hour of triumph.

In after years, when peace had been restored, Cuthbert Grant settled
in the neighbourhood of White Horse Plains, a region twenty miles west
of Red River on the Assiniboine, and here became an influential man.
He was the leader of the hunt against the buffalo, on which every year
the adventurous young men went to bring back their winter supply of
food. In order that this might be properly managed, to protect life in
a dangerous sport and to preserve the buffalo from wanton destruction,
strict rules were agreed on and penalties attached to their breach.
The officer appointed by the Council of Assiniboia to carry out these
laws was called the "Warden of the Plains." This office Cuthbert Grant
filled. Of the fifteen members of the Council of Assiniboia, Grant was
one, and he largely reflected the opinion of the French half-breed
population of the Red River settlement. He was the hero of the plain
hunters, and the native bards never ceased to sing his praises. His case
is a remarkable example of the power that native representatives obtain
among mixed communities.


The name of John Pritchard carries us back on the Red River to the
beginning of the century--to a time even before the coming of the
Selkirk colony. His descendants to the fourth generation are still found
in Manitoba and are well known. He was born in 1777 in a small village
in Shropshire, England, and received his education in the famous Grammar
School of Shrewsbury. Early in the century he emigrated to Montreal.
At that time the ferment among the fur traders was great. The old
North-West Company of Montreal had split into sections, and to the new
Company, or X Y Company, young Pritchard was attached. We first hear
of him at the mouth of the Souris River in 1805, and shortly after in
charge of one of the forts at that point where the Souris River empties
into the Assiniboine.

We have already given the incident of Pritchard being lost on the
prairie for forty days. Pritchard does not seem to have taken kindly to
the United North-West Company, for at the time of the Seven Oaks affair
we find him as one of the garrison occupying Fort Douglas, although he
represents himself as being a settler on the Red River.

After the skirmish of Seven Oaks Pritchard sought to escape with the
other settlers to the north of Lake Winnipeg, but was made prisoner by
the North-West Company's agents and taken to Fort William. Thence he
went east to Montreal and gave evidence in connection with the trials
arising out of the Red River troubles. Pritchard was a capable and ready
man. His evidence is clear and well expressed. He had much facility in
doing business, and had a smooth, diplomatic manner that stood him in
good stead in troublous times.

Pritchard afterwards entered Lord Selkirk's service and as his agent
went over to London. Returning to the Red River settlement, he married
among the people of Kildonan, and lived not far from the Kildonan
Church, on the east side of the river. A number of his letters have
been printed, which show that he took a lively interest in the affairs
of the settlement, especially in its religious concerns. It is not,
then, remarkable that among his descendants there should be no less than
seven clergymen of the Church of England. It is interesting to know that
the Hudson's Bay Company voted him about 1833 a gratuity of 25_l._ in
consideration of valuable services rendered by him to education, and
especially in the establishment of Sunday schools and day schools. This
man, whose life was a chronicle of the history of the settlement, passed
away in 1856 and was buried in St. John's Churchyard.


Among the wild rout of the Nor'-Westers at the skirmish of Seven Oaks
was a young French half-breed, whose father was a French Canadian
engaged in the fur trade, and his mother an Indian woman from the
Missouri country. The young combatant had been born in 1793, at Elbow
Fort, in the Swan River district. Taken as a child to Canada, young
Pierre lived for a time at Laprairie, and at the age of fifteen returned
with his father to the Red River, and with him engaged in the service
of the North-West Company. What part Falcon took in the affair at Seven
Oaks we are not told, except that he behaved bravely, and saw Governor
Semple killed.

Pierre Falcon was, however, the bard or poet of his people. This
characteristic of Falcon is quite remarkable, considered in connection
with the time and circumstances. That a man who was unable to read or
write should have been able to describe the striking events of his
time in verse is certainly a notable thing. He never tires singing in
different times and metres the valour of the Bois Brûlés at Seven Oaks.

    "Voulez-vous écouter chanter
    Une chanson de vérité?
    Le dix-neuf Juin, la bande des Bois Brûlés
    Sont arrivés comme des braves guerriers."

Then with French gaiety and verve he gives an account of the attack on
the Orkneymen, as he calls them, and recites the Governor's action and
his death. Falcon finishes up the chanson with a wild hurrah of triumph--

    "Les Bois Brûlés jetaient des cris de joie."

The lively spirit of the rhymester broke out in song upon all the
principal events which agitated the people of the settlement. Joseph
Tassé, to whom we are chiefly indebted in this sketch, says of him,
"all his compositions are not of the same interest, but they are sung
by our voyageurs to the measured stroke of the oar, on the most distant
rivers and lakes of the North-West. The echoes of the Assiniboine, the
Mackenzie, and Hudson Bay will long repeat them."

The excitable spirit of the rhymer never left him. At the time of the
Riel rebellion (1869-70) Falcon was still alive, and though between
seventy and eighty years of age, he wished to march off with his gun to
the fray, declaring that "while the enemy would be occupied in killing
him his friends would be able to give hard and well-directed blows to

For about half a century he lived on the White Horse Plains, twenty
miles or more up the Assiniboine from Winnipeg, and became an
influential man in the neighbourhood. His mercurial disposition seems to
have become more settled than in his fiery youth, for though unlettered,
he was made a justice of the peace.

His verse-making was, of course, of a very simple and unfinished kind.
One of his constant fashions was to end it with a declaration that it
was made by Falcon, the singer of his people.

    "Qui en a fait la chanson?
    Un poète de canton;
    Au bout de la chanson
    Nous vous le nommerons.
    Un jour étant à table,
    A boire et à chanter,
    A chanter tout au long
    La nouvelle chanson.
    Amis, buvons, trinquons,
    Saluons la chanson
    De Pierriche Falcon,
    Ce faiseur de chanson."

The last line being often varied to

    "Pierre Falcon, le bon garçon."



     Both Companies in danger--Edward Ellice, a mediator--George
     Simpson, the man of destiny--Old feuds buried--Gatherings at Norway
     House--Governor Simpson's skill--His marvellous energy--Reform in
     trade--Morality low--A famous canoe voyage--Salutes fired--Pompous
     ceremony at Norway House--Strains of the bagpipe--Across the Rocky
     Mountains--Fort Vancouver visited--Great executive ability--The
     governor knighted--Sir George goes around the world--Troubles of a
     book--Meets the Russians--Estimate of Sir George.

Affairs in Rupert's Land had now reached their worst and had begun
to mend, the strong hand of British law had made itself felt, and
hostilities had ceased from Fort William to far-off Qu'Appelle and to
the farther distant Mackenzie River. The feeling of antagonism was,
however, stirring in the bosoms of both parties. The death of Lord
Selkirk in France brought the opposing fur traders closer together,
and largely through the influence of Hon. Edward Ellice, a prominent
Nor'-Wester, a reconciliation between the hostile Companies took place
and a union was formed on March 26th, 1821, under the name of the
Hudson's Bay Company.

The affairs of both Companies had been brought to the verge of
destruction by the conflicts, and the greatest satisfaction prevailed
both in England and Canada at the union. The prospect now was that
the stability of the English Company and the energy of the Canadian
combination would result in a great development of the fur trade.

As is so often the case, the man for the occasion also appeared. This
was not an experienced man, not a man long trained in the fur trade, not
even a man who had done more than spend the winter in the fur country at
Lake Athabasca. He was simply a young clerk, who had approved himself
in the London Hudson's Bay Company office to Andrew Colville, a relation
of the Earl of Selkirk. He was thus free from the prejudices of either
party and young enough to be adaptable in the new state of things. This
man was George Simpson, a native of Ross-shire, in Scotland. He was
short of stature, but strong, vigorous, and observing. He was noted
for an ease and affability of manner that stood him in good stead all
through his forty years of experience as chief officer of the Hudson's
Bay Company. He became a noted traveller, and made the canoe voyage from
Montreal to the interior many times. For many years the Nor'-Westers,
as we have seen, held their annual gathering at Grand Portage on
Lake Superior, and it was to this place that the chief officers had
annually resorted. The new element of the English Company coming in
from Hudson Bay now made a change necessary. Accordingly, Norway House
on Lake Winnipeg became the new centre, and for many years the annual
gathering of the Company leaders in the active trade took place here.
The writer has had the privilege of perusing the minutes of some of
these gatherings, which were held shortly after Governor Simpson was
appointed. These are valuable as showing the work done by the young
Governor and his method of dealing with difficulties.

[Illustration: SIR GEORGE SIMPSON.]

While it has always been said that Governor Simpson was dictatorial and
overbearing, it will be seen that at this stage he was conciliatory and
considerate. He acted like the chairman of a representative body of men
called together to consult over their affairs, the members having equal
rights. On June 23rd, 1823, one of his first meetings was held at Norway
House. Reports were given in detail from the various posts and districts
in turn. Bow River, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, was reported as
abandoned; from the Upper Red River, it was stated that on account of
prairie fires the buffalo were few, and that the wild Assiniboines had
betaken themselves to the Saskatchewan to enjoy its plenty.

From Lower Red River came the news that the attempt to prevent the
natives trading in furs had been carried rather too far. Furs belonging
to a petty trader, Laronde, had been seized, confiscated, and sent to
Hudson Bay. It was learned that Laronde had not been duly aware of the
new regulations, and it was ordered that compensation be made to him.
This was done, and he and his family were fully satisfied. The Catholic
Mission at Pembina had been moved down to the Forks, where now St.
Boniface stands, and the desire was expressed that the traders should
withdraw their trade as much as possible from the south side of the
United States' boundary line.

The reports from the Selkirk settlement were of a favourable kind. The
Sioux, who had come from their land of the Dakotas to meet Lord Selkirk,
were not encouraged to make any further visits. The Selkirk colony was
said to be very prosperous, and it is stated that it was the intention
of the new Company soon to take over the property belonging to Lord
Selkirk in the colony.

Some conflicts had arisen in the Lac La Pluie (Rainy Lake) district,
and these were soothed and settled. Reference is made to the fact that
Grand Portage having been found to be on United States' territory, new
arrangements had been made for avoiding collision with the Americans.

Reports were even given in of prosperous trade in the far-distant
Columbia, and steps were taken at various points to reduce the number of
posts, the union of the Companies having made this possible.

In all these proceedings, there may be seen the influence of the
diplomatic and shrewd young Governor doing away with difficulties and
making plans for the extension of a successful trade in the future. It
was not surprising that the Council invested Governor Simpson with power
to act during the adjournment.

Sometimes at Moose Factory, now at York, then at Norway House, and again
at Red River, the energetic Governor paid his visits. He was noted for
the imperious and impetuous haste with which he drove his voyageurs
through the lonely wilds. For years a story was prevalent in the Red
River country that a stalwart French voyageur, who was a favourite with
the Governor, was once, in crossing the Lake of the Woods, so irritated
by the Governor's unreasonable urging, that he seized his tormentor,
who was small in stature, by the shoulders, and dipped him into the
lake, giving vent to his feelings in an emphatic French oath.


_As seen by the writer in 1865._]

The Governor knew how to attach his people to himself, and he gathered
around him in the course of his career of forty years a large number of
men most devoted to the interests of the Company. His visits to Fort
Garry on the Red River were always notable. He was approachable to the
humblest, and listened to many a complaint and grievance with apparent
sympathy and great patience. He had many of the arts of the courtier
along with his indomitable will.

At another of his gatherings at Norway House with the traders in 1823 we
have records of the greatest interest. The canoe had been the favourite
craft of the Nor'-Westers, but he now introduced boats and effected a
saving of one-third in wages, and he himself superintended the sending
of an expedition of four boats with twenty men by way of Nelson River
from York Factory to far distant Athabasca. He was quick to see those
who were the most profitable as workmen for the Company. On one occasion
he gives his estimate as follows: "Canadians (i.e., French Canadians)
preferable to Orkneymen. Orkneymen less expensive, but slow. Less
physical strength and spirits. Obstinate if brought young into the
service. Scotch and Irish, when numerous, quarrelsome, independent, and

At this time it was determined to give up the practice of bestowing
presents upon the Indians. It was found better to pay them liberally for
their pelts, making them some advances for clothing.

The minutes state at this time that there was little progress in the
moral and religious instruction of the Indians. The excessive use of
spirits, which still continued, was now checked; the quantity given
in 1822 and 1823 was reduced one-half and the strength of the spirits
lowered. Missionaries could not be employed with success, on account of
the small number of Indians at any one point. The only hope seemed to
be to have schools at Red River and to remove the children from their
parents to these. Many difficulties, arising from the objections of the
parents, were, however, sure to come in the way.

Evidences were not wanting of chief factors being somewhat alienated
from the Governor, but those dissatisfied were promptly invited to the
Council and their coolness removed. In carrying out discipline among
the men some difficulty was experienced, as the long conflicts between
the Companies had greatly demoralized the employés. One plan suggested
was that offenders should be fined and the fines vested in a charitable
fund. It was found that this would only do for Europeans. "A blow was
better for a Canadian," and though this was highly reprobated, it was
justified by experience.

At a meeting at York Factory instructions were given to Chief Factor
Stuart on Lake Superior to complete and launch a new vessel much larger
than the _Discovery_, then afloat. Captain Bayfield, R.N., the British
officer surveying the lakes, wintered at this time with his crew at Fort
William, and the work of surveying the lakes promised to take him three

The following entry, September 5th, 1823, shows the considerate way in
which the Governor sought the advice of his Council:--"Governor Simpson
requested permission to visit England. If granted, will hold himself
ready to return to Canada in 1825 and proceed by express canoe in time
to make arrangements for the season." At the same date, 1823, a step
in advance was taken in having a permanent and representative council
to regulate the affairs of Red River Settlement. The entry reads,
"Captain Robert Parker Pelly, Governor of Assiniboia, Rev. Mr. West,
Rev. Mr. Jones, Mr. Logan added to the council. Jacob Corrigal, chief
trader, appointed sheriff, vice Andrew Stewart, deceased. Rev. Mr. Jones
appointed chaplain at a salary of 100_l._ during absence of Mr. West. He
will officiate at Red River."

There lies before the writer a work entitled "Peace River; a Canoe
Voyage from the Hudson Bay to the Pacific." It was written by Archibald
Macdonald and annotated between forty and fifty years after by Malcolm
McLeod, of Ottawa. It gives a graphic account of the state maintained
by Governor Simpson and his method of appealing to the imagination of
the Indians and Company servants alike. The journey was made from ocean
to ocean, the point of departure being York Factory, on Hudson Bay, and
the destination Fort Vancouver, on the Columbia River. In addition to
Macdonald, Governor Simpson took with him Dr. Hamlyn as medical adviser,
and in two light canoes, provided with nine men each, the party went
with extraordinary speed along the waterways which had already been the
scenes of many a picturesque and even sanguinary spectacle.

Fourteen chief officers--factors and traders--and as many more clerks
were summoned on July 12th, 1828, to give a send-off to the important
party. As the pageant passed up Hayes River, loud cheers were given and
a salute of seven guns by the garrison. The voyageurs then struck up one
of the famous chansons by which they beguiled the lonely waterways, and
with their dashing paddles, hastened away to the interior.

So well provided an expedition, with its tents for camping, suitable
utensils for the camp fire, arms to meet any danger, provisions
including wine for the gentlemen, and spirits for the voyageurs, was not
long in ascending the watercourses to Norway House, where the outlet of
Lake Winnipeg was reached.

The arrival at Norway House was signalized by much pomp. The residents
of the fort were on the qui vive for the important visitor. The
Union Jack, with its magic letters "H. B. C.," floated from the tall
flag-staff of Norway pine, erected on Signal Hill. Indians from their
neighbouring haunts were present in large numbers, and the lordly Red
men, at their best when "en fête," were accompanied by bevies of their
dusky mates, who looked with admiring gaze on the "Kitche Okema" who was

The party had prepared for the occasion. They had, before reaching
the fort, landed and put themselves in proper trim and paid as much
attention to their toilets as circumstances would permit. Fully ready,
they resumed their journey, and with flashing paddles speeded through
the deep rocky gorge, quickly turned the point, and from the gaudily
painted canoe of the Governor with high prow, where sat the French
Canadian guide, who for the time commanded, there pealed forth the
strains of the bagpipes, while from the second canoe was heard the sound
of the chief factor's bugle. As the canoes came near the shore, the soft
and lively notes fell on the ear of "La Claire Fontaine" from the lively
voyageurs. Altogether, it was a scene very impressive to the quiet
residents of the post.

The time of the Governor was very fully occupied at each stopping-place.
A personal examination and inspection of each post, of its officers and
employés, buildings, books, trade, and prospects was made with "greatest
thoroughness." Fond as the Governor was of pomp, when the pageant was
passed, then he was a man of iron will and keenest observation. His
correspondence at each resting-place was great, and he was said to be
able to do the work of three men, though twelve years after the date of
the present journey he became affected with partial blindness.

Fort Chipewyan had always maintained its pre-eminence as an important
depôt of the fur trade. The travelling emperor of the fur traders
was captured by its picturesque position as well as by its historic
memories. Here he found William McGillivray, with whose name the fur
traders conjured, and under invitation from the Governor the former
Nor'-Wester and his family joined the party in crossing the Rockies. The
waving of flags, firing of guns, shouting of the Indians and employés,
and the sound of singing and bagpipe made the arrival and departure as
notable as it had been at Norway House.

A little more than a month after they had left York Factory the
indomitable travellers entered Peace River, in order to cross the Rocky
Mountains. Fort Vermilion, Fort Dunvegan, St. John, all had their
objects of interest for the party, but one of the chief was that it was
a scarce year, and at Dunvegan, as well as at Fort McLeod across the
mountains, there was not enough of food at hand to supply the visitors.
Cases of dispute were settled by the Governor, who presided with the air
of a chief Justice. Caution and advice were given in the most impressive
fashion, after the manner of a father confessor, to the Indians, fault
being found with their revelries and the scenes of violence which
naturally followed from these.

From McLeod to Fort St. James the journey was made by land. Thus the
crest of the Rocky Mountains was crossed, the voyageurs packing on their
shoulders the impedimenta, and horses being provided for the gentlemen
of the party. This was the difficult portage which so often tried the
traders. Fort St. James, it will be remembered, was at Lake Stuart,
where Fraser started on his notable journey down the Fraser River. It
was the chief place and emporium of New Caledonia. The entry is thus
described: "Unfurling the British ensign, it was given to the guide,
who marched first. After him came the band, consisting of buglers and
bagpipers. Next came the Governor, mounted, and behind him Hamlyn and
Macdonald also on horses. Twenty men loaded like beasts of burden,
formed the line; after them a loaded horse; and finally, McGillivray
with his wife and family brought up the rear."

Thus arranged, the imposing body was put in motion. Passing over a
gentle elevation, they came in full view of the fort, when the bugle
sounded, a gun was fired, and the bagpipes struck up the famous march of
the clans, "Si coma leum codagh na sha" ("If you will it, war"). Trader
Douglas, who was in charge of the fort, replied with small ordnance and
guns, after which he advanced and received the distinguished visitors in
front of the fort.

Passing on, by September 24th the party came to Fort Alexandria, four
days down the Fraser, and reached Kamloops, the junction of the North
and South Thompson. At every point of importance, the Governor took
occasion to assemble the natives and employés, and gave them good
advice, "exhorting them to honesty, frugality, temperance," finishing
his prelections with a gift of tobacco or some commodity appreciated
by them. Running rapids, exposed to continual danger, but fortunate in
their many escapes, they reached Fort Langley, near the mouth of the
Fraser River, two days less than three months from the time of their
starting from York Factory. From this point, Governor Simpson made
his way to Fort Vancouver on the Columbia, then the chief post on the
Pacific Coast, and in the following year returned over the mountains,
satisfied that he had gained much knowledge and that he had impressed
himself on trader, _engagé_, and Indian chief alike.

With marvellous energy, the Governor-in-Chief, as he was called, covered
the vast territory committed to his care. Establishments in unnecessary
and unremunerative places were cut down or closed. Governor Simpson,
while in some respects fond of the "show and circumstance" which an old
and honourable Company could afford, was nevertheless a keen business
man, and never forgot that he was the head of a Company whose object was
trade. It cannot be denied that the personal element entered largely
into his administration. He had his favourites among the traders, he
was not above petty revenges upon those who thwarted his plans, and his
decisions were sometimes harsh and tyrannical, but his long experience,
extending over forty years, was marked on the whole by most successful
administration and by a restoration of the prestige of the Company, so
nearly destroyed at the time of the union.

In the year 1839, when the Colonial Office was engaged in settling up
the Canadian rebellion which a blundering colonial system had brought
upon both Lower and Upper Canada, the British Government sought
to strengthen itself among those who had loyally stood by British
influence. Governor Simpson and the whole staff of the Hudson's Bay
Company had been intensely loyal, and it was most natural and right that
the young Queen Victoria, who had lately assumed the reins of power,
should dispense such a favour as that of knighthood on the doughty
leader of the fur traders. Sir George Simpson worthily bore the honours
bestowed upon him by his Sovereign, and in 1841 undertook a voyage round
the world, crossing, as he did so, Rupert's Land and the territories
in his rapid march. Two portly volumes containing an itinerary of the
voyage, filling nine hundred pages, appeared some five years after
this Journey was completed. This work is given in the first person as
a recital by the Governor of what he saw and passed through. Internal
evidence, however, as well as local tradition on the Red River, shows
another hand to have been concerned in giving it a literary form. It
is reported that the moulding agent in style and arrangement was Judge
Thom, the industrious and strong-minded recorder of the Red River

The work is dedicated to the directors of the Hudson's Bay Company.
These were nine in number, and their names are nearly all well known
in connection with the trade of this period. Sir John Henry Pelly,
long famous for his leadership; Andrew Colville, Deputy-Governor, who,
by family connection with Lord Selkirk, long held an important place;
Benjamin Harrison; John Halkett, another kinsman of Lord Selkirk; H.
H. Berens; A. Chapman, M.P.; Edward Ellice, M.P., a chief agent in the
Union and a most famous trader; the Earl of Selkirk, the son of the
founder; and R. Weynton. The names of almost all these traders will be
found commemorated in forts and trading-posts throughout Rupert's Land.

Leaving London, March 3rd, 1841, the Governor called at Halifax, but
disembarked at Boston, went by land to Montreal, and navigation being
open on May 4th on the St. Lawrence, he and his party started and soon
reached Ste. Anne, on Montreal Island. The evidence of the humour of Sir
George's editor, who knew Montreal well, is seen in his referring to
Moore's "Canadian Boat Song," in saying, "At Ste. Anne's Rapid, on the
Ottawa, we neither sang our evening hymn nor bribed the Lady Patroness
with shirts, caps, &c., for a propitious journey; but proceeded."
Following the old canoe route, Georgian Bay and Lake Superior were
soon passed over, though on the latter lake the expedition was delayed
about a week by the ice, and here too Sir George met the sad news of
the unfortunate death of his kinsman, Thomas Simpson, of whom we shall
speak more fully in connection with Arctic exploration. Taking the
route from Fort William by Kaministiquia, the travellers hastened over
the course by way of Rainy Lake and River and Lake of the Woods. In
referring to Rainy River the somewhat inflated style of the editor makes
Sir George speak without the caution which every fur trader was directed
to cultivate in revealing the resources of the fur country. A decade
afterwards Mr. Roebuck, before the Committee of the House of Commons,
"heckled" Sir George over this fulsome passage. The passage is: "From
the very brink of the river (Rainy River) there rises a gentle slope of
greenwood, crowned in many places with a plentiful growth of birch,
poplar, beech, elm, and oak. Is it too much for the eye of philanthropy
to discern, through the vista of futurity, this noble stream,
connecting, as it does, the fertile shores of two spacious lakes, with
crowded steamboats on its bosom and populous towns on its borders?"

Following the usual route by River Winnipeg, Lake Winnipeg, and Red
River, Fort Garry was soon reached, and here the Governor somewhat
changed his plans. He determined to cross the prairies by light
conveyances, and accordingly on July 3rd, at five in the morning, with
his fellow-travellers, with only six men, three horses, and one light
cart, the Emperor of the Plains left Fort Garry under a salute and with
the shouting of the spectators, as he started on his journey to skirt
the winding Assiniboine River.

A thousand miles over the prairie in July is one of the most cheery
and delightsome journeys that can be made. The prairie flowers abound,
their colours have not yet taken on the full blaze of yellow to be
seen a month later, and the mosquitoes have largely passed away on the
prairies. The weather, though somewhat warm, is very rarely oppressive
on the plains, where a breeze may always be felt. This long journey
the party made with most reckless speed--doing it in three weeks, and
arriving at Edmonton House, to be received by the firing of guns and
the presence of nine native chiefs of the Blackfeet, Piegans, Sarcees,
and Bloods, dressed in their grandest clothes and decorated with scalp
locks. "They implored me," says the Governor, "to grant their horses
might always be swift, that the buffalo might instantly abound, and that
their wives might live long and look young."

Four days sufficed at Edmonton on the North Saskatchewan to provide the
travellers with forty-five fresh horses. They speedily passed up the
Saskatchewan River, meeting bands of hostile Sarcees, using supplies of
pemmican, and soon catching their first view of the white peaks of the
Rocky Mountains. Deep muskegs and dense jungles were often encountered,
but all were overcome by the skill and energy of the expert fur trader
Row and their guide. Through clouds of mosquitoes they advanced until
the sublime mountain scenery was beheld whenever it was not obscured
with the smoke arising from the fires through this region, which
was suffering from a very dry season. At length Fort Colville, on
the Columbia River, was gained after nearly one thousand miles from
Edmonton; and this journey, much of it mountain travelling, had averaged
forty miles a day. The party from Fort Garry had been travelling
constantly for six weeks and five days, and they had averaged eleven and
a half hours a day in the saddle. The weather had been charming, with
a steady cloudless sky, the winds were light, the nights cool, and the
only thing to be lamented was the appearance of the whole party, who,
with tattered garments and crownless hats, entered the fort.

Embarking below the Chaudière Falls of the Columbia, the company took
boats, worked by six oars each, and the water being high they were able
to make one hundred, and even more miles a day, in due course reaching
Fort Vancouver.

At Fort Vancouver Governor Simpson met Trader Douglas--afterward Sir
James Douglas. He accompanied the party, which now took horses and
crossed country by a four days' journey to Fort Nisqually. Here on the
shore of Puget Sound lay the ship _Beaver_, and embarking on her the
party went on their journey to Sitka, the chief place in Alaska, whence
the Governor exchanged dignified courtesies with the Russian Governor
Etholin, and enjoyed the hospitality of his "pretty and lady-like" wife.
In addition, Governor Simpson examined into the Company's operations
(the Hudson's Bay Company had obtained exclusive licence of this sleepy
Alaska for twenty years longer), and found the trade to be 10,000 fur
seals, 1000 sea otters, 12,000 beaver, 2500 land otters,----foxes and
martins, 20,000 sea-horse teeth.

The return journey was made, the _Beaver_ calling, as she came down the
coast, at Forts Stikine, Simpson, and McLoughlin. In due course Fort
Vancouver was reached again. Sir George's journey to San Francisco,
thence to Sandwich Islands, again direct to Alaska, and then westward to
Siberia, and over the long journey through Siberia on to St. Petersburg,
we have no special need to describe in connection with our subject. The
great traveller reached Britain, having journeyed round the globe in
the manner we have seen, in nineteen months and twenty-six days.

Enough has been shown of Sir George's career, his administration,
method of travel, and management, to bring before us the character of
the man. At times he was accompanied on his voyages to more accessible
points by Lady Simpson, and her name is seen in the post of Fort Frances
on Rainy River and in Lake Frances on the upper waters of the Liard
River, discovered and named by Chief Factor Robert Campbell. Sir George
lived at Lachine, near Montreal, where so many retired Hudson's Bay
Company men have spent the sunset of their days. He took an interest
in business projects in Montreal, held stock at one time in the Allan
Line of steamships, and was regarded as a leader in business and affairs
in Montreal. He passed away in 1860. Sir E. W. Watkin, in his work,
"Recollections of Canada and the States," gives a letter from Governor
Dallas, who succeeded Sir George, in which reference is made to "the
late Sir George Simpson, who for a number of years past lived at his
ease at Lachine, and attended more apparently to his own affairs than
to those of the Company." Whether this is a true statement, or simply
the biassed view of Dallas, who was rather rash and inconsiderate, it is
hard for us to decide.

Governor Simpson lifted the fur trade out of the depth into which it
had fallen, harmonised the hostile elements of the two Companies,
reduced order out of chaos in the interior, helped, as we shall see,
various expeditions for the exploration of Rupert's Land, and though,
as tradition goes and as his journey around the world shows, he never
escaped from the witchery of a pretty face, yet the business concerns
of the Company were certainly such as to gain the approbation of the
financial world.



     Lonely trading posts--Skilful letter writers--Queer old
     Peter Fidler--Famous library--A remarkable will--A stubborn
     Highlander--Life at Red River--Badly-treated Pangman--Founding
     trading houses--Beating up recruits--Priest Provencher--A
     fur-trading mimic--Life far north--"Ruled with a rod of
     iron"--Seeking a fur country--Life in the canoe--A trusted
     trader--Sheaves of letters--A find in Edinburgh--Faithful
     correspondents--The Bishop's cask of wine--Red River, a "land
     of Canaan"--Governor Simpson's letters--The gigantic Archdeacon
     writes--"MacArgrave's" promotion--Kindly Sieveright--Traders and
     their books.

It was an empire that Governor Simpson established in the solitudes of
Rupert's Land. The chaos which had resulted from the disastrous conflict
of the Companies was by this Napoleon of the fur trade reduced to
order. Men who had been in arms against one another--Macdonell against
Macdonell, McLeod against McLeod--learned to work together and gathered
around the same Council Board. The trade was put upon a paying basis,
the Indians were encouraged, and under a peaceful rule the better life
of the traders began to grow up.

It is true this social life was in many respects unique. The trading
posts were often hundreds of miles apart, being scattered over the area
from Labrador to New Caledonia. Still, during the summer, brigades of
traders carried communications from post to post, and once or twice in
winter the swift-speeding dog-trains hastened for hundreds of miles with
letters and despatches over the icy wastes. There grew up during the
well-nigh forty years of George Simpson's governorship a comradeship of
a very strong and influential kind.

Leading posts like York Factory on Hudson Bay, Fort Garry in the Red
River settlement, Fort Simpson on the Mackenzie River, and Fort Victoria
on the Pacific Coast, were not only business centres, but kept alive
a Hudson's Bay Company sentiment which those who have not met it can
hardly understand. Letters were written according to the good old style.
Not mere telegraphic summaries and business orders as at the present
day, but real news-letters--necessary and all the more valuable because
there were no newspapers in the land. The historian of to-day finds
himself led back to a very remarkable and interesting social life as he
reads the collection of traders' letters and hears the tales of retired
factors and officers. Specimens and condensed statements from these
materials may help us to picture the life of the period.


Traditions have come down from this period of men who were far from
being commonplace in their lives and habits. Among the most peculiar
and interesting of these was an English trader, Peter Fidler, who for
forty years played his part among the trying events preceding Governor
Simpson's time, and closed his career in the year after the union of
the Companies. The quaint old trader, Peter Fidler, is said to have
belonged to the town of Bolsover, in the County of Derby, England, and
was born August 16th, 1769. From his own statement we know that he kept
a diary in the service of the Company beginning in 1791, from which it
is inferred that he arrived in Rupert's Land about that time and was
then engaged in the fur trade. Eight years afterwards he was at Green
Lake, in the Saskatchewan district, and about the same time in Isle
à la Crosse. In this region he came into active competition with the
North-West Company traders, and became a most strenuous upholder of the
claims of the Hudson's Bay Company.

Promoted on account of his administrative ability, he is found in the
early years of the new century at Cumberland House, the oldest post of
the Company in the interior. His length of service at the time of the
establishment of the Selkirk colony being above twenty years, he was
entrusted with the conduct of one of the parties of settlers from
Hudson Bay to Red River.

[Illustration: RED RIVER NOTE.]

In his will, a copy of which lies before the writer, it is made quite
evident that Fidler was a man of education, and he left his collection
of five hundred books to be the nucleus of a library which was
afterwards absorbed into the Red River library, and of which volumes are
to be seen in Winnipeg to this day.

But Fidler was very much more than a mere fur trader. He is called in
his will "Surveyor" and trader for the Honourable Hudson's Bay Company.
He was stated to have made the boundary survey of the district of
Assiniboia, the limits of which have been already referred to in the
chapter on Lord Selkirk. He also surveyed the lots for the Selkirk
settlers, in what was at that time the parish of Kildonan. The plan
of the Selkirk settlement made by him may be found in Amos's Trials
and in the Blue Book of 1819, and this proved to be of great value in
the troublesome lawsuits arising out of the disputes between the fur
companies. The plan itself states that the lots were established in
1814; and we find them to be thirty-six in number.

About the same time Fidler was placed in charge of the Red River
district, and it is said that the traders and clerks found him somewhat
arbitrary and headstrong. As the troubles were coming on, and Governor
Semple had taken command of the Red River Company's fort and colony,
Fidler was placed in charge of Brandon House, then a considerable
Hudson's Bay Company Fort. He gives an account of the hostilities
between the Companies there and of the seizure of arms. He continues
actively engaged in the Company's service, and from his will being made
at Norway House, this would seem to have been his headquarters, although
in the official statement of the administration of his effects he is
stated to be "late of York Factory."

Mr. Justice Archer Martin, in his useful book, "Hudson's Bay Company's
Land Tenure," gives us an interesting letter of Alexander McLean to
Peter Fidler, dated 1821. This is the time of the Union of the Hudson's
Bay Company and the North-West Company. In the letter mention is made
of the departure for New York of (Mr. Nicholas) Garry, a gentleman
of the honourable committee, and of Mr. Simon McGillivray, one of the
North-West Company. We have spoken elsewhere of Mr. Garry's visit, and a
few years afterward Fort Garry was named after this officer.

The chief interest to us, however, centres in Fidler's eccentric will.
We give a synopsis of it:--

(1) He requests that he may be buried at the colony of Red River should
he die in that vicinity.

(2) He directs that his journals, covering twenty-five or thirty
years, also four or five vellum bound books, being a fair copy of the
narrative of his journeys, as well as astronomical and meteorological
and thermometrical observations, also his manuscript maps, be given to
the committee of the Honourable Hudson's Bay Company.

(3) The books already mentioned making up his library, his printed maps,
two sets of twelve-inch globes, a large achromatic telescope, Wilson's
microscope, and a brass sextant, a barometer, and all his thermometers
were to be taken by the Governor of the Red River colony and kept in
Government hands for the general good of the Selkirk colonists.

(4) Cattle, swine, and poultry, which he had purchased for one hundred
pounds from John Wills, of the North-West Company, the builder of Fort
Gibraltar, were to be left for the sole use of the colony, and if any of
his children were to ask for a pair of the aforesaid animals or fowls
their request was to be granted.

(5) To his Indian wife, Mary Fidler, he bequeathed fifteen pounds a year
for life to be paid to her in goods from the Hudson's Bay Company store,
to be charged against his interest account in the hands of the Company.

(6) The will required further that of all the rest of the money
belonging to him, in the hands of the Hudson's Bay Company or the Bank
of England, as well as the legacy left him by his Uncle Jasper Fidler
and other moneys due him, the interest be divided among his children
according to their needs.

(7) After the interest of Fidler's money had been divided among his
children till the youngest child Peter should come of age, the testator
makes the following remarkable disposal of the residue: "All my money
in the funds and other personal property after the youngest child has
attained twenty-one years of age, to be placed in the public funds,
and the interest annually due to be added to the capital and continue
so until August 16th, 1969 (I being born on that day two hundred
years before), when the whole amount of the principal and interest so
accumulated I will and desire to be then placed at the disposal of the
next male child heir in direct descent from my son Peter Fidler" or to
the next-of-kin. He leaves his "Copyhold land and new house situated in
the town of Bolsover, in the county of Derby," after the death of Mary
Fidler, the mother of the testator, to be given to his youngest son,
Peter Fidler.

This will was dated on August 16th, 1821, and Fidler died in the
following year. The executors nominated were the Governor of the
Hudson's Bay Company, the Governor of the Selkirk settlement, and the
secretary of the Hudson's Bay Company.

Some time after the death of this peculiar man, John Henry Pelly,
Governor-in-Chief of the Hudson's Bay Company, Donald McKenzie, Governor
of the Selkirk settlement, and William Smith, Secretary of the Hudson's
Bay Company, renounced the probate and execution of the will, and
in October, 1827, "Thomas Fidler," his natural and lawful son, was
appointed by the court to administer the will.

A considerable amount of interest in this will has been shown by the
descendants of Peter Fidler, a number of whom still live in the province
of Manitoba, on the banks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. Lawyers
have from time to time been appointed to seek out the residue, which,
under the will, ought to be in process of accumulation till 1969, but
no trace of it can be found in Hudson's Bay Company or Bank of England
accounts, though diligent search has been made.


John McLeod has already figured in our story. Coming out with Lord
Selkirk's first party from the Island of Lewis, as one of the "twelve
or thirteen young gentleman clerks," he, as we have seen, gave a good
account of himself in the "imminent and deadly breach," when he
defended the Hudson's Bay Company encampment at the Forks against the
fierce Nor'-Westers. His journal account of that struggle we found to be
well told, even exciting. It further gives a picture of the fur trader's
life, as seen with British eyes and by one of Hudson's Bay Company

He met at the Forks, immediately on his arrival, three chiefs of the
Nor'-Westers. One of these was John Wills, who, as an old X Y trader,
had joined the Nor'-Westers and shortly after built Fort Gibraltar. A
second of the trio was Benjamin Frobisher, of the celebrated Montreal
firm of that name, who perished miserably; and the last was Alexander
Macdonell, who was commonly known as "Yellow Head," and afterward became
the "Grasshopper Governor."

McLeod vividly describes the scene on his arrival, when the Hudson's Bay
Company, as represented by trader William Hillier, formally transferred
to Miles Macdonell, Lord Selkirk's agent, the grant of land and the
privileges pertaining thereto. The ceremony was performed in the
presence of the settlers and other spectators. McLeod quaintly relates
that the three bourgeois mentioned were present on his invitation,
but Wills would not allow his men to witness the transaction, which
consisted of reading over the concession and handing it to Macdonell.
Hugh Henney, the local officer in charge of the Hudson's Bay Company
affairs, then read over the concession in French for the benefit of the
voyageurs and free traders.

McLeod relates a misadventure of irascible Peter Fidler in dealing
with a trader, Pangman, who afterwards figured in Red River affairs.
After Henney had taken part in the formal cession, he departed, leaving
McLeod and Pangman in charge of the Hudson's Bay Company interests at
the Forks. McLeod states that prior to this time (1813), the Hudson's
Bay Company "_had no house at this place_," thus disposing of a local
tradition that there was a Hudson Bay trading post at the Forks before
Lord Selkirk's time. McLeod, however, proceeded immediately to build "a
good snug house." This was ready before the return of the fall craft
(trade), and it was this house that McLeod so valiantly defended in the
following year.

During the summer McLeod found Pangman very useful in meeting the
opposition of the North-West Company traders. Peter Pangman was a German
who had come from the United States, and was hence called "Bostonnais
Pangman," the title Bostonnais being used in the fur-trading country for
an American. Fidler, who had charge of the district for the Hudson's Bay
Company, refused to give the equipment promised by Henney to Pangman.
McLeod speaks of the supreme blunder of thus losing, for the sake of a
few pounds, the service of so capable a man as Pangman. Pangman left
the Hudson's Bay Company service, joined the Nor'-Westers, and was ever
after one of the most bitter opponents of the older Company. After many
a hostile blow dealt to his opponents, Pangman retired to Canada, where
he bought the Seigniory of Lachenaie, and his son was an influential
public man in Lower Canada, Hon. John Pangman.

Events of interest rapidly followed one another at the time of the
troubles. After the fierce onset at the Forks had been met by McLeod,
he was honoured by being sent 500 miles south-westward by his senior
officer, Colin Robertson, with horses, carts, and goods, to trade
with the Indians on the plains. This daring journey he accomplished
with only three men--"an Orkneyman and two Irishmen." In early winter
he had returned to Pembina, where he was to meet the newly-appointed
Governor, Robert Semple. McLeod states that Semple was appointed under
the resolution of the Board of Directors in London on May 19th, 1811,
first Governor of Assiniboia. From this we are led to think that Miles
Macdonell was Lord Selkirk's agent only, and was Governor by courtesy,
though this was not the case.

The unsettled state of the country along the boundary line is shown in a
frightful massacre spoken of by McLeod. On a journey down the Red River,
McLeod had spent a night near Christmas time in a camp of the Saulteaux
Indians. He had taken part in their festivities and passed the night in
their tents. He was horrified to hear a few days after at Pembina that
a band of Sioux had, on the night of the feast, fallen upon the camp
of Saulteaux, which was composed of thirty-six warriors, and that all
but three of those making up the camp had been brutally killed in a
night attack. On his return to his post McLeod passed the scene of the
terrible massacre, and he says he saw "the thirty-three slain bodies
scalped, the knives and arrows and all that had touched their flesh
being left there."

McLeod was noted for his energy in building posts. He erected an
establishment on Turtle River; and in the year after built a trading
house beyond Lake Winnipeg, at the place where Oxford House afterward

McLeod, being possessed of courage and energy, was sent west to
Saskatchewan, where, having wintered in the district with traders Bird
and Pruden, and faced many dangers and hardships, he returned to Red
River and was among those arrested by the Nor'-Westers. He was sent to
Montreal, where, after some delay, the charge against him was summarily
dismissed. He was, while there, summoned as a witness in the case
against Reinhart in Quebec.

In Montreal McLeod was rejoiced to meet Lady Selkirk, the wife of his
patron, from whom he received tokens of confidence and respect.

The trader had a hand in the important movement by which Lord Selkirk
provided for his French and German dependents on the Red River, who
belonged to the Roman Catholic faith, the ordinances of religion. As
we shall see, Lord Selkirk secured, according to his promise, the two
priests Provencher and Dumoulin, and with them sent out a considerable
number of French Canadians to Red River.

McLeod's account of his part in the matter is as follows:--"On my way
between Montreal and Quebec, I took occasion, with the help of the good
Roman Catholic priests, Dumoulin of Three Rivers, and Provencher of
Montreal, to beat up recruits for the Hudson's Bay Company service and
the colony among the French Canadians. On the opening of navigation
about May 1st, I started, in charge with a brigade of seven large
canoes, and with about forty Canadians, some with their families, headed
by my two good friends the priests--the first missionaries in the north
since the time of the French before the conquest. Without any loss or
difficulty, I conducted the whole through to Norway House, whence in
due course they were taken in boats and schooner to Red River. At
this place we had a navy on the lake, but lately under the command
of Lieutenant Holt, one of the victims of 1816. Holt had been of the
Swedish navy."

At Norway House McLeod's well-known ability and trustworthiness led
to his appointment to the far West, "and from this time forth his
field was northward to the Arctic." He had the distinguished honour of
establishing a permanent highway, by a line of suitable forts and trade
establishments to the Peace River region. While in charge of his post he
had the pleasure of entertaining Franklin (the noble Sir John) on his
first Arctic land expedition, and afterwards at Norway House saw the
same distinguished traveller on his second journey to the interior of
the North land.

After the union of the Companies, McLeod, now raised to the position of
Chief Trader, was the first officer of the old Hudson's Bay Company to
be sent across the Rocky Mountains to take charge of the district in
New Caledonia. Among the restless and vindictive natives of that region
he continued for many years with a good measure of success, and ended
up a career of thirty-seven years as a successful trader and thorough
defender of the name and fame of the Hudson's Bay Company, by retiring
to spend the remainder of his days, as so many of the traders did, upon
the Ottawa River.


Wentzel was a Norwegian who had entered the North-West Company in
1799, and spent most of his time in Athabasca and Mackenzie River
districts, where he passed the hard life of a "winterer" in the northern
department. He was intelligent, but a mimic--and this troublesome
cleverness prevented his promotion in the Company. He co-operated with
Franklin the explorer in his journey to the Arctic Ocean. Wentzel was
a musician--according to Franklin "an excellent musician." This talent
of his brightened the long and dreary hours of life and contributed to
keep all cheerful around him. A collection of the voyageur songs made
by him is in existence, but they are somewhat gross. Wentzel married
a Montagnais Indian woman, by whom he had two children. One of them
lived on the Red River and built the St. Norbert Roman Catholic Church
in 1855. From Wentzel's letters we quote extracts showing the state of
feeling at the time of the union of the fur companies in 1821 and for a
few years afterwards.

_March 26th, 1821._--"In Athabasca, affairs seem to revive; the natives
are beginning to be subjected by the rivalship in trade that has been
carried on so long, and are heartily desirous of seeing themselves once
more in peaceable times, which makes the proverb true that says, 'Too
much of a good thing is good for nothing.' Besides, the Hudson's Bay
Company have apparently realized the extravagance of their measures;
last autumn they came into the department with fifteen canoes only,
containing each about fifteen pieces. Mr. Simpson (afterward Sir
George), a gentleman from England last spring, superintends their
business. His being a stranger, and reputedly a gentlemanly man, will
not create much alarm, nor do I presume him formidable as an Indian
trader. Indeed, Mr. Leith, who manages the concerns of the North-West
Company in Athabasca, has been so liberally supplied with men and goods
that it will be almost wonderful if the opposition can make good a
subsistence during the winter. Fort Chipewyan alone has an equipment
of no less than seventy men, enough to crush their rivals." (Editor's
note.--Another year saw Simpson Governor of the United Company.)

_April 10th, 1823._--"Necessity rather than persuasion, however,
influenced me to remain; my means for future support are too slender
for me to give up my employment, but the late revolution in the affairs
of the country (the coalition of the Hudson's Bay Company with the
North-West Company in 1821) now obliges me to leave it the ensuing year,
as the advantages and prospects are too discouraging to hold forth a
probability of clearing one penny for future support. Salaries do not
exceed one hundred pounds sterling, out of which clerks must purchase
every necessity, even tobacco, and the prices of goods at the Bay are at
the rate of one hundred and fifty or three hundred per cent. on prime
cost, therefore I shall take this opportunity of humbly requesting your
advice how to settle my little earnings, which do not much exceed five
hundred pounds, to the best advantage."

_March 1st, 1824._--"Respecting the concerns of the North-West
(country), little occurs that can be interesting to Canada. Furs have
lost a great deal of their former value in Europe, and many of the chief
factors and traders would willingly compound for their shares with the
Company for one thousand five hundred pounds, in order to retire from a
country which has become disgusting and irksome to all classes. Still,
the returns are not altogether unprofitable; but debts, disappointments,
and age seem to oppress everyone alike. _Engagés'_ prices are now
reduced to twenty-five pounds annually to a boute (foreman), and twenty
pounds to middlemen, without equipment or any perquisites whatever.
In fact, no class enjoys the gratuity of an equipment. Besides, the
committee at home insist upon being paid for families residing in posts
and belonging to partners, clerks, or men, at the rate of two shillings
for every woman and child over fourteen years of age, one shilling for
every child under that age. This is complained of as a grievance by all
parties, and must eventually become very hard on some who have large
families to support. In short, the North-West is now beginning to be
ruled with a rod of iron." (Evidently Wentzel is not an admirer of the
new régime.)


The name of Finlay was a famous one among the traders. As we have seen,
James Finlay was one of the first to leave Montreal, and penetrate
among the tribes of Indians, in search of fur, to the far distant
Saskatchewan. His son James was a trader, and served in the firm of
Gregory, McLeod & Co. As was not uncommon, these traders had children by
the Indian women, having a "country marriage," as it was called. As the
result of these there was connected with the Finlay family a half-breed
named Jaceo, or Jacko Finlay, who took his part in exploration in the
Rocky Mountains in company with David Thompson. Besides these, there was
a well-known trader, John Finlay, who is often difficult to separate
from the other traders of the name.

The writer has lying before him a manuscript, never hitherto published,
entitled "A Voyage of Discovery from the Rocky Mountain Portage in Peace
River, to the Sources of Finlay's Branch, and North-Westward: Summer,
1824." This is certified by Chief Factor McDougall, to-day of Prince
Albert, to be the journal of John Finlay. As it illustrates the methods
by which the fur country was opened, we give a few extracts.

_May 13th._--"Rainy weather. In the evening, left Rocky Mountain
Portage establishment. Crossed over to the portage and encamped for the
night.... The expedition people are as follows: six effective canoe
men, Joseph Le Guard, Antoine Perreault (bowman), Joseph Cunnayer, J.
B. Tourangeau, J. M. Bouche, and Louis Olsen (middleman), M. McDonald,
Manson, and myself, besides Le Prise, and wife, in all ten persons. Le
Prise is in the double capacity of hunter and interpreter."

Finlay speaks of "The existing troubles in this quarter caused by
the murderers of our people at St. John's, roving about free and, it
is said, menacing all; but as this is an exploratory voyage, and the
principal motive to ascertain the existence of beaver in the country we
are bound for, we shall do our best to accomplish the intentions of the

_17th._--"Encamped at the hill at the little lake on the top of the
hills at the west side of the Portage. Mr. M. shot a large fowl of the
grouse kind, larger than the black heath cock in Scotland. Found some
dried salmon in exchange with Mr. Stunt for pemmican--a meal for his
men, and this year he seems independent of the Peace River, at least as
far as Dunvegan: they have nothing in provisions at the Portage."

Finlay is very much in the habit of describing the rock formations seen
on his voyage. His descriptions are not very valuable, for he says,
"I am not qualified to give a scientific description of the different
species and genera of the different substances composing the strata of
the Rocky Mountains."

_22nd May._--"In this valley, about four miles before us right south,
Finlay's branch comes in on the right: a mile and a half below Finlay's
branch made a portage of five hundred paces. At a rapid here we found
the Canny _cache_ (a hiding place for valuables); said to be some beaver
in it of last year's hunt."

_23rd._--"Met a band of Indians, who told us they were going up the
small river--(evidently this had been named after the elder Finlay, as
this instances its familiarity)--on the left, to pass the summer, and a
little before another river on the right; that there were some beavers
in it, but not so many as the one they were to pass the summer in."

_24th._--"To-day some tracks of the reindeer, mountain sheep and goats,
but the old slave (hunter) has killed nothing but a fowl or beaver now
and then."

_25th._--"I have never seen in any part of the country such luxuriance
of wood as hereabout, the valley to near the tops of the mountains on
both sides covered with thick, strong, dark-green branching pines. We
see a good many beaver and some fowl, game (bustards), and duck, but
kill few."

Finlay declares to the slave, the hunter of his party, his intention to
go up the large branch of the Finlay. "This is a disappointment to him
as well as to the people, who have indulged their imaginations on this
route falling on the Liard River, teeming in beaver and large animals."

_7th June._--"This afternoon we have seen a great deal of beaver work,
and killed some bustards and Canadian grey geese; we have seen no swans,
and the ducks, with few exceptions, are shabby."

Finlay gives a statement of his journey made so far, thus:--

  Rocky Mountain Portage to entrance of Finlay's Branch          6 days.
  To Deserter's Portage                                          4  ,,
  To Large Branch                                                5  ,,
  To Point Du Mouton                                             4  ,,
  To end of Portage                                              4  ,,
  To Fishing Lakes                                               3  ,,
                                                                26 days.


"In some of the large rivers coming into Finlay's branch, where soft
ground with wood, eligible for beaver, had been accumulated, beaver were
to be found. Otherwise, except such places as here and here, the whole
country is one continued mountain valley of rock and stone, and can by
no means come under the denomination of a beaver country, in the common
acceptation of the word, on the waters of the Hudson's Bay and Mackenzie

_June 15th._--"Very fine warm weather; huge masses of snow falling
down from the mountains with a noise resembling thunder. Those snow
_déboules_ seem irresistible, shivering the trees to atoms, carrying
all clean before them, forming ruins as if the Tower of Babel or the
Pyramids of Egypt had been thrown down from their foundations."

_June 29th._--"Made a good fishery to-day: 7 trout, 12 carp, 1 small
white fish, like those at McLeod's lake in Western Caledonia."

Finlay closes his Journal of seventy-five closely-written quarto pages
at the lake high in the mountains, where he saw a river rising. This
lake we see from the map to be the source of the Liard River.


Not very long ago it was the good fortune of the writer to be in
Edinburgh. He was talking to his friend, a well-known Writer to the
Signet. The conversation turned on the old fur-trading days, and in a
short time author and lawyer found themselves four stories high, in a
garret, examining boxes, packages, and effects of James Hargrave and his
son Joseph, who as fur traders, father and son, had occupied posts in
the Hudson's Bay Company service extending from 1820 to 1892.

Several cases were filled with copies of a book entitled "Red River,"
published by the younger Hargrave in 1871. Other boxes enclosed the
library of father and son. Two canvas bags contained many pounds of new
farthings, which, by some strange mischance, had found their way to the
Hudson Bay and had been returned as useless. Miscellaneous articles of
no value to the searchers lay about, but in one large valise were many
bundles of letters. These were done up in the most careful manner. The
packages were carefully tied with red tape, and each, securely sealed
with three black ominous seals, emphasized the effect of the directions
written on them, in some cases "to be opened only by my son," in others,
"to be opened only by my children." After some delay the permission of
the heirs was obtained, and the packages were opened and examined.

They were all letters written between 1821 and 1859 by fur-trading
friends to James Hargrave, who had carefully preserved them, folded,
docketed, and arranged them, and who had, in the last years of his
life at "Burnside House," his residence at Brockville, Canada, kept
the large correspondence as the "apple of his eye." The vast majority
of the letters, numbering many hundreds in all, had been addressed to
York Factory. For most of his life Hargrave had been in charge of York
Factory, on Hudson Bay. York Factory was during the greater part of
this fur trader's life, as it had been for more than a century before
his time, the port of entry to which goods brought by ship from Britain
had been borne to the interior of Rupert's Land, and also the port
from which the ships had carried their precious cargoes of furs to the
mother country. James Hargrave had thus become the trusted correspondent
of governor and merchant, of bishop and clergyman, of medical man and
educationist. He was emphatically a middleman, a sort of Janus, looking
with one face to the London merchants and with the other to the dwellers
in Rupert's Land.

But Hargrave was also a letter-writer, and a receiver of many news
letters and friendly letters, a man who enjoyed conversation, and when
this could not be had with his friends _tête-à-tête_, his social chats
were carried on by means of letters, many months and even years apart.
By degrees he rose in the service. From the first a friend of the
emperor-governor, he has the good wishes of his friends expressed for
his first rise to the post of chief trader, which he gained in 1833, and
by-and-by came his next well-deserved promotion to be chief factor in

Along with all these letters was a book handsomely bound for keeping
accounts and private memoranda. This book shows James Hargrave to have
been a most methodical and painstaking man. In it is contained a list
of all the promotions to official positions of commissioned officers
for nearly forty years, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Here also is
an account of his investments, and the satisfactory statement that,
during his nearly forty years of service, his shares of the profits,
investments, and re-investments of what he did not use, allowed him to
retire from active service with, as the result of his labour, about

The writer has sought to glean from the hundreds of letters in the
Edinburgh garret what is interesting in the life of Rupert's Land, so
far as is shown in the writing and acting of this old fur trader and his

Many of the letters are from Governor Simpson. These letters of the
Governor are chiefly written from Red River or Norway House--the
former the "Fur Traders' Paradise," the latter the meeting-place of
the Council, held once a year to decide all matters of business.
Occasionally a letter of the Governor's is from Bas de la Rivière (i.e.
the mouth of the Winnipeg River), written by that energetic officer, as
might be said, "on the wing," and in a few cases from London, England,
whither frequently Governor Simpson crossed on the business of the

Governor Simpson's remarks as to society in Red River, 1831, are keen
and amusing:--"As yet we have had one fête, which was honoured by the
presence of all the elegance and dignity of the place from his Reverence
of Juliopolis (Bishop Provencher) down to friend Cook, who (the latter)
was as grave and sober as a bishop.... By-the-bye, we have got a very
'rum' fellow of a doctor here now: the strangest compound of skill,
simplicity, selfishness, extravagance, musical taste, and want of
courtesy, I ever fell in with. The people are living on the fat of the
earth, in short, Red River is a perfect land of Canaan as far as good
cheer goes.... Do me the favour to pick out a couple pounds of choice
snuff for me and send them by Mr. Miles."

A short time after this, Governor Simpson, writing, says, speaking of
the completion of St. John's Church, afterward the Cathedral Church,
and referring to the discontent of the Selkirk settlers, with which he
had small sympathy, "We have got into the new church, which is really a
splendid edifice for Red River, and the people are less clamorous about
a Gaelic minister than they were." The good Governor had his pleasant
fling at the claim made by the Highlanders to have their private stills
when he says, "And about whiskey they say not one word, now that rum
is so cheap, and good strong 'heavy wet' in general use." Speaking of
one of the chief officers who was off duty, the Governor says "Chief
Factor Charles is like a fish out of water, having no musquash to count,
nor Chipewyans to trade with; he is as brisk and active as a boy, and
instead of showing any disposition to retire, wishes to volunteer to
put a finishing hand to the as yet fruitless attempt at discovering the
North-West passage."

Governor Simpson knows well the art of flattery, and his skill in
managing his large force of Company officers and men is well seen. He
states to Hargrave that he once predicted at the board that the traders
of York Factory would yet have a seat at the Board. This, he stated,
gave mortal offence to some members, but he was to bear the prediction
in mind. He compliments him on sending the best-written letter that he
has received for a long time, and we find that in the following year
Hargrave was made Chief Trader. This was the occasion for numerous
congratulations from his friends Archdeacon Cochrane of Red River,
Trader Sieveright, and others.

The news of the time was common subject of discussion between the
traders in their letters. Governor Simpson gave an account of the
outbreak of cholera in the eastern states and provinces, and traces
in a very graphic way its dangerous approach towards Rupert's Land.
Up to August, 1832, fifteen hundred people had died in Montreal. The
pestilence had reached Mackinaw, and two hundred of the steamboat
passengers were carried off, and some near Sault Ste. Marie. "God
grant," says the Governor, "it may not penetrate further into our wilds,
but the chances are decidedly against us."

That the Hudson's Bay Company officers were not traders only is made
abundantly evident. In one of his letters, Governor Simpson states that
their countryman, Sir Walter Scott, has just passed away, he thanks
Hargrave for sending him copies of _Blackwood's Magazine_, and orders
are often given for fresh and timely books. A little earlier we find
the minute interest which the fur traders took in public events in
a letter from Chief Factor John Stuart, after whom Stuart's Lake, in
New Caledonia, was named. He speaks to Hargrave of the continuation of
Southey's "History of the War of the Peninsula" not being published,
and we know from other sources that this History fell still-born, but
Stuart goes on to say that he had sent for Col. Napier's "History of
the Peninsular War." "Napier's politics," says Stuart, "are different,
and we shall see whether it is the radical or a laurel (Southey was
poet laureate) that deserves the palm." These examples but illustrate
what all close observers notice, that the officers of the Hudson's Bay
Company not only read to purpose, but maintained a keen outlook for the
best and most finished contemporary literature. Much additional evidence
might be supplied on this point.

All through Governor Simpson's letters there is a strain of sympathy
for the people of the Company that is very beautiful. These show that
instead of being a hard and tyrannical man, the Governor had a tender
heart. In one of his letters he expresses sympathy for Trader Heron, who
had met misfortune. He speaks of his great anxiety for a serious trouble
that had arisen in Rev. Mr. Jones's school at Red River, and hopes that
it may not injure education; he laments at considerable length over Mr.
J. S. McTavish's unfortunate accident. Having heard of Hargrave's long
illness he sends a letter of warm sympathy, and this in the midst of a
flying visit, and in London in the following year pays every attention
by giving kind, hospitable invitations to Hargrave to enjoy the society
of himself and Lady Simpson.

The racy letters of Governor Simpson are by no means more interesting
than those of many others of Hargrave's friends. Ordinary business
letters sometimes seem to have a humorous turn about them even fifty
years after they were written. The Roman Catholic Bishop Provencher
(Bishop of Juliopolis _in partibus infidelium_) affords an example
of this. He writes in great distress to Hargrave as to the loss of
a cask of white wine (_une barrique de vin blanc_). He had expected
it by the York boats sent down by the great Red River merchant,
Andrew McDermott.... The cask had not arrived. The good Bishop cannot
understand it, but presumes, as it is December when he writes, that it
will come in the spring. The Bishop's last remark is open to a double
meaning, when he says, "Leave it as it is, for he will take it without
putting it in barrels."

The Bishop in a more important matter addresses Governor Simpson,
and the Governor forwards his letter to York Factory. In this Bishop
Provencher thanks him for giving a voyage in the canoes, from Red River
to Montreal, to Priest Harper, and for bringing up Sub-Deacon Poiré,
a "young man of talent." He also gives hearty thanks for a passage,
granted by the Governor on the fur traders' route from the St. Lawrence,
to two stonemasons. "I commence," he said, "to dig the foundation of my
church to-morrow." He asks for a passage down and up for members of his
ecclesiastical staff. He wants from York Factory forty or fifty hoes for
Mr. Belcour to use in teaching the Indians to cultivate potatoes and
Indian corn, and he naïvely remarks, "while thus engaged, he will at
the same time cultivate their spirits and their hearts by the preaching
of the Word of God." The eye for business is seen in the Bishop's final
remark that he thinks "that the shoes from the Bay will cost much less
than those made by the smiths at Red River."

Archdeacon Cochrane, a man of gigantic form and of amazing _bonhomie_,
who has been called the "founder of the Church of England on Red River,"
writes several interesting letters. Beginning with business he drifts
into a friendly talk. One of his letters deals with the supplies for the
school he had opened (1831) at St. Andrew's, Red River, another sings
the praises of his new church at the rapids: "It is an elegant little
church, pewed for three hundred and forty people, and finished in the
neatest manner it could be for Red River. The ceiling is an arc of an
ellipse, painted light blue. The moulding and pulpit brown; the jambs
and sashes of the windows white."

A little of the inner working of the fur-trading system in the
predominance of Scottish influence is exhibited by Archdeacon Cochrane
in one letter to Hargrave. Referring to Hargrave's promotion to the
chief tradership, not yet bestowed, the old clergyman quaintly says,
"Are you likely to get another feather in your cap? I begin to think
that your name will have to be changed into MacArgrave. A 'mac' before
your name would produce a greater effect than all the rest of your
merits put together. Can't you demonstrate that you are one of the
descendants of one of the great clans?"

Among the correspondence is a neat little note to Hargrave (1826) from
Rev. David Jones, the Archdeacon's predecessor, written at Red River,
asking his company to a family dinner on the next Monday, at 2 p.m.; and
a delicate missive from Acting-Governor Bulger, of Red River, asking
Hargrave to accept a small quantity of snuff.

Among Hargrave's correspondents are such notable fur traders as Cuthbert
Grant, the leader of the Bois Brûlés, who had settled down on White
Horse Plains, on the Assiniboine River, and was the famous captain of
the buffalo hunters; and William Conolly, the daring Chief Factor of New
Caledonia. Events in Fort Churchill are well described in the extensive
correspondence of J. G. McTavish, long stationed there; and good
Governors Finlayson and McMillan of Red River are well represented; as
well as Alexander Ross, the historian of the Red River affairs. A full
account of the wanderings from York Factory to the far distant Pacific
slope of Mr. George Barnston, who afterwards was well known in business
circles as a resident of Montreal, could be gathered, did time permit,
from a most regular correspondence with Hargrave.

Probably the man most after the York Chief Factor's own heart was a
good letter writer, John Sieveright, who early became Chief Trader and
afterwards Chief Factor in 1846. Sieveright had become acquainted with
Hargrave at Sault Ste. Marie. Afterwards he was removed to Fort Coulonge
on the Upper Ottawa, but he still kept up his interest in Hargrave
and the affairs of Rupert's Land. Sieveright has a play of humour and
pleasant banter that was very agreeable to Hargrave. He rallies him
about an old acquaintance, the handsome daughter of Fur Trader Johnston,
of Sault Ste. Marie, who, it will be remembered, married an Indian
princess. He has a great faculty of using what other correspondents
write to him, in making up very readable and well written letters to his

For many years Sieveright was at Fort Coulonge, and thus was in touch
with the Hudson's Bay Company house at Lachine, the centre of the fur
trade on this continent. Every year he paid a visit to headquarters,
and had an advantage over the distant traders on the Saskatchewan,
Mackenzie, and Nelson Rivers. He, however, seemed always to envy them
their lot. Writing of Fort Coulonge, he gives us a picture of the fur
trader's life: "This place has the advantage of being so near the
civilized world as to allow us to hear now and then what is going on
in it; but no society or amusement to help pass the time away. In
consequence I cannot help reading a great deal too much--injurious at
any time of life--particularly so when on the wrong side of fifty.
I have been lately reading John Galt's 'Southernan,' not much to be
admired. His characters are mostly all caricatures. If place will be
allowed in paper trunk, I shall put that work and 'Laurie Todd' in for
your acceptance."



     Lachine, the fur traders' Mecca--The departure--The flowing
     bowl--The canoe brigade--The voyageur's song--"En roulant ma
     boule"--Village of St. Anne's--Legend of the Church--The sailor's
     guardian--Origin of "Canadian Boat Song"--A loud invocation--"A
     la Claire Fontaine"--"Sing, nightingale"--At the rapids--The
     ominous crosses--"Lament of Cadieux"--A lonely maiden sits--The
     Wendigo--Home of the Ermatingers--A very old canal--The rugged
     coast--Fort William reached--A famous gathering--The joyous return.

Montreal, to-day the chief city of Canada, was, after the union of
the Companies, the centre of the fur trade in the New World. The old
Nor'-Wester influence centred on the St. Lawrence, and while the final
court of appeal met in London, the forces that gave energy and effect
to the decrees of the London Board acted from Montreal. At Lachine,
above the rapids, nine miles from the city, lived Governor Simpson, and
many retired traders looked upon Lachine as the Mecca of the fur trade.
Even before the days of the Lachine Canal, which was built to avoid the
rapids, it is said the pushing traders had taken advantage of the little
River St. Pierre, which falls into the St. Lawrence, and had made a deep
cutting from it up which they dragged their boats to Lachine. To the
hardy French voyageurs, accustomed to "portage" their cargoes up steep
cliffs, it was no hardship to use the improvised canal and reach Lachine
at the head of the rapids.

[Illustration: I.--PORTAGE.]

[Illustration: II.--DÉCHARGE.]

Accordingly, Lachine became the port of departure for the voyageurs on
their long journeys up the Ottawa, and on to the distant fur country.
Heavy canoes carrying four tons of merchandise were built for the
freight, and light canoes, some times manned with ten or twelve men,
took the officers at great speed along the route. The canoes were
marvels of durability. Made of thin but tough sheets of birch bark,
securely gummed along the seams with pitch, they were so strong, and yet
so light, that the Indians thought them an object of wonder, and said
they were the gift of the Manitou.

The voyageurs were a hardy class of men, trained from boyhood to the
use of the paddle. Many of them were Iroquois Indians--pure or with an
admixture of white blood. But the French Canadians, too, became noted
for their expert management of the canoe, and were favourites of Sir
George Simpson. Like all sailors, the voyageurs felt the day of their
departure a day of fate. Very often they sought to drown their sorrows
in the flowing bowl, and it was the trick of the commander to prevent
this by keeping the exact time of the departure a secret, filling up
the time of the voyageurs with plenty to do and leaving on very short
notice. However, as the cargo was well-nigh shipped, wives, daughters,
children, and sweethearts too, of the departing canoe men began to
linger about the docks, and so were ready to bid their sad farewells.

In the governor's or chief factor's brigade each voyageur wore a feather
in his cap, and if the wind permitted it a British ensign was hoisted
on each light canoe. Farewells were soon over. Cheers filled the air
from those left behind, and out from Lachine up Lake St. Louis, an
enlargement of the St. Lawrence, the brigade of canoes were soon to
shoot on their long voyage. No sooner had "le maître" found his cargo
afloat, his officers and visitors safely seated, than he gave the cheery
word to start, when the men broke out with a "chanson de voyage."
Perhaps it was the story of the "Three Fairy Ducks," with its chorus
so lively in French, but so prosaic, even in the hands of the poetic
McLennan, when translated into English as the "Rolling Ball":--

    "Derrière chez nous, il y a un étang
    (Behind the manor lies the mere),
          En roulant ma boule. (Chorus.)
    Trois beaux canards s'en vont baignant.
    (Three ducks bathe in its waters clear.)
          En roulant ma boule.
    Rouli, roulant, ma boule roulant,
    En roulant, ma boule roulant,
          En roulant ma boule."

And now the paddles strike with accustomed dash. The voyageurs are
excited with the prospect of the voyage, all scenes of home swim before
their eyes, and the chorister leads off with his story of the prince
(fils du roi) drawing near the lake, and with his magic gun cruelly
sighting the black duck, but killing the white one. With falling voices
the swinging men of the canoe relate how from the snow-white drake his

    "Life blood falls in rubies bright,
    His diamond eyes have lost their light,
    His plumes go floating east and west,
    And form at last a soldier's bed.
          En roulant ma boule
    (Sweet refuge for the wanderer's head),
          En roulant ma boule,
    Rouli, roulant, ma boule roulant,
    En roulant ma boule roulant,
          En roulant ma boule."

As the brigade hies on its way, to the right is the purplish brown water
of the Ottawa, and on the left the green tinge of the St. Lawrence,
till suddenly turning around the western extremity of the Island of
Montreal, the boiling waters of the mouth of the Ottawa are before the
voyageurs. Since 1816 there has been a canal by which the canoes avoid
these rapids, but before that time all men and officers disembarked and
the goods were taken by portage around the foaming waters.

And now the village of Ste. Anne's is reached, a sacred place to the
departing voyageurs, and here at the old warehouse the canoes are
moored. Among the group of pretty Canadian houses stands out the
Gothic church with its spire so dear an object to the canoe men. The
superstitious voyageurs relate that old Bréboeuf, who had gone as priest
with the early French explorers, had been badly injured on the portage
by the fall of earth and stones upon him. The attendance possible for
him was small, and he had laid himself down to die on the spot where
stands the church. He prayed to Ste. Anne, the sailors' guardian, and on
her appearing to him he promised to build a church if he survived. Of
course, say the voyageurs, with a merry twinkle of the eye, he recovered
and kept his word. At the shrine of "la bonne Ste. Anne" the voyageur
made his vow of devotion, asked for protection on his voyage, and left
such gift as he could to the patron saint.

Coming up and down the river at this point the voyageurs often sang the

    "Dans mon chemin j'ai rencontré
    Deux cavaliers très bien montés;"

with the refrain to every verse:--

    "A l'ombre d'un bois je m'en vais jouer,
    A l'ombre d'un bois je m'en vais jouer."
    ("Under the shady tree I go to play.")

It is said that it was when struck with the movement and rhythm of
this French chanson that Thomas Moore, the Irish poet, on his visit to
Canada, while on its inland waters, wrote the "Canadian Boat Song," and
made celebrated the good Ste. Anne of the voyageurs. Whether in the
first lines he succeeded in imitating the original or not, his musical
notes are agreeable:--

    "Faintly as tolls the evening chime,
    Our voices keep tune and our oars keep time."

Certainly the refrain has more of the spirit of the boatman's song:--

    "Row, brothers, row; the stream runs fast,
    The rapids are near and the daylight's past."

The true colouring of the scene is reflected in

    "We'll sing at Ste. Anne;"


    "Ottawa's tide, this trembling moon,
    Shall see us float over thy surges soon."

Ste. Anne really had a high distinction among all the resting-places
on the fur trader's route. It was the last point in the departure
from Montreal Island. Religion and sentiment for a hundred years
had consecrated it, and a short distance above it, on an eminence
overlooking the narrows--the real mouth of the Ottawa--was a venerable
ruin, now overgrown with ivy and young trees, "Château brillant," a
castle speaking of border foray and Indian warfare generations ago.

If the party was a distinguished one there was often a priest included,
and he, as soon as the brigade was fairly off and the party had settled
down to the motion, reverently removing his hat, sounded forth a loud
invocation to the Deity and to a long train of male and female saints,
in a loud and full voice, while all the men at the end of each versicle
made response, "Qu'il me bénisse." This done, he called for a song. None
of the many songs of France would be more likely at this stage than the
favourite and most beloved of all French Canadian songs, "A la Claire

The leader in solo would ring out the verse--

    "A la claire fontaine,
    M'en allent promener,
    J'ai trouvé l'eau si belle,
    Que je m'y sois baigné."

    ("Unto the crystal fountain,
    For pleasure did I stray;
    So fair I found the waters,
    My limbs in them I lay.")

Then in full chorus all would unite, followed verse by verse. Most
touching of all would be the address to the nightingale--

    "Chantez, rossignol, chantez,
    Toi qui as le coeur gai;
    Tu as le coeur à rire,
    Moi, je l'ai à pleurer."

    ("Sing, nightingale, keep singing,
    Thou hast a heart so gay;
    Thou hast a heart so merry,
    While mine is sorrow's prey.")

The most beautiful of all, the chorus, is again repeated, and is, as
translated by Lighthall:--

    "Long is it I have loved thee,
    Thee shall I love alway,
          My dearest;
    Long is it I have loved thee,
    Thee shall I love alway."

The brigade swept on up the Lake of Two Mountains, and though the work
was hard, yet the spirit and exhilaration of the way kept up the hearts
of the voyageurs and officers, and as one song was ended, another was
begun and carried through. Now it was the rollicking chanson, "C'est
la Belle Françoise," then the tender "La Violette Dandine," and when
inspiration was needed, that song of perennial interest, "Malbrouck s'en
va-t-en guerre."

A distance up the Ottawa, however, the scenery changes, and the river
is interrupted by three embarrassing rapids. At Carillon, opposite to
which was Port Fortune, a great resort for retired fur traders, the
labours began, and so these rapids, Carillon, Long Sault, and Chute au
Blondeau, now avoided by canals, were in the old days passed by portage
with infinite toil. Up the river to the great Chaudière, where the City
of Ottawa now stands, they cheerfully rowed, and after another great
portage the Upper Ottawa was faced.

The most dangerous and exacting part of the great river was the
well-known section where two long islands, the lower the Calumet, and
the Allumette block the stream, and fierce rapids are to be encountered.
This was the _pièce de résistance_ of the canoe-men's experience. Around
it their superstitions clustered. On the shores were many crosses
erected to mark the death, in the boiling surges beside the portage,
of many comrades who had perished here. Between the two islands on the
north side of the river, the Hudson's Bay Company had founded Fort
Coulonge, used as a depôt or refuge in case of accident. No wonder the
region, with "Deep River" above, leading on to the sombre narrows of
"Hell Gate" further up the stream, appealed to the fear and imagination
of the voyageurs.

Ballad and story had grown round the boiling flood of the Calumet. As
early as the time of Champlain, the story goes that an educated and
daring Frenchman named Cadieux had settled here, and taken as his wife
one of the dusky Ottawas. The prowling Iroquois attacked his dwelling.
Cadieux and one Indian held the enemy at bay, and firing from different
points led them to believe that the stronghold was well manned. In the
meantime, the spouse of Cadieux and a few Indians launched their canoes
into the boiling waters and escaped. From pool to pool the canoe was
whirled, but in its course the Indians saw before them a female figure,
in misty robes, leading them as protectress. The Christian spouse said
it was the "bonne Ste. Anne," who led them out of danger and saved them.
The Iroquois gave up the siege. Cadieux's companion had been killed, and
the surviving settler himself perished from exhaustion in the forest.
Beside him, tradition says, was found his death-song, and this "Lament
de Cadieux," with its touching and attractive strain, the voyageurs sang
when they faced the dangers of the foaming currents of the Upper Ottawa.

The whole route, with its rapids, whirlpools, and deceptive currents,
came to be surrounded, especially in superstitious minds, with an air
of dangerous mystery. A traveller tells us that a prominent fur trader
pointed out to him the very spot where his father had been swept under
the eddy and drowned. The camp-fire stories were largely the accounts of
disasters and accidents on the long and dangerous way. As such a story
was told on the edge of a shadowy forest the voyageurs were filled with
dread. The story of the Wendigo was an alarming one. No crew would push
on after the sun was set, lest they should see this apparition.

Some said he was a spirit condemned to wander to and fro in the earth on
account of crimes committed, others believed the Wendigo was a desperate
outcast, who had tasted human flesh, and prowled about at night, seeking
in camping-places of the traders a victim. Tales were told of unlucky
trappers who had disappeared in the woods and had never been heard of
again. The story of the Wendigo made the camping-place to be surrounded
with a sombre interest to the traders.

Unbelievers in this mysterious ogre freely declared that it was but a
partner's story told to prevent the voyageurs delaying on their journey,
and to hinder them from wandering to lonely spots by the rapids to fish
or hunt. One of the old writers spoke of the enemy of the voyageurs--

    "Il se nourrit des corps des pauvres voyageurs,
    Des malheureux passants et des navigateurs."

    ("He feeds on the bodies of unfortunate men of the river, of
        unlucky travellers, and of the mariners.")

Impressed by the sombre memories of this fur traders' route, a traveller
in the light canoes in fur-trading days, Dr. Bigsby, relates that he
had a great surprise when, picking his way along a rocky portage, he
"suddenly stumbled upon a young lady sitting alone under a bush in a
green riding habit and white beaver bonnet." The impressionable doctor
looked upon this forest sylph and doubted whether she was

    "One of those fairy shepherds and shepherdesses
    Who hereabouts live on simplicity and watercresses."

After confused explanations on the part of both, the lady was found to
be an Ermatinger, daughter of the well-known trader of Sault Ste. Marie,
who with his party was then at the other end of the portage.

We may now, with the privilege accorded the writer, omit the hardships
of hundreds of miles of painful journeying, and waft the party of the
voyageurs, whose fortunes we have been following, up to the head of
the west branch of the Ottawa, across the Vaz portages, and down a
little stream into Lake Nipissing, where there was an old-time fort
of the Nor'-Westers, named La Ronde. Across Lake Nipissing, down the
French River, and over the Georgian Bay with its beautiful scenery, the
voyageurs' brigade at length reached the River St. Mary, soon to rest at
the famous old fort of Sault Ste. Marie. Sault Ste. Marie was the home
of the Ermatingers, to which the fairy shepherdess belonged.


Sault Ste. Marie.]

The Ermatinger family, whose name so continually associates itself
with Sault Ste. Marie, affords a fine example of energy and influence.
Shortly after the conquest of Canada by Wolfe, a Swiss merchant came
from the United States and made Canada his home. One of his sons, George
Ermatinger, journeyed westward to the territory now making up Michigan,
and, finding his way to Sault Ste. Marie, married, engaged in the fur
trade, and died there.

Still more noted than his brother, Charles Oaks Ermatinger, going
westward from Montreal, also made Sault Ste. Marie his home. A man
of great courage and local influence in the war of 1812, the younger
brother commanded a company of volunteers in the expedition from Fort
St. Joseph, which succeeded that summer in capturing Michilimackinac.
His fur-trading establishment at Sault Ste. Marie was situated on the
south side of the river, opposite the rapids. When this territory was
taken possession of by the troops of the United States in 1822, the
fur trader's premises at Sault Ste. Marie were seized and became the
American fort. For some years after this seizure trader Ermatinger had
a serious dispute with the United States Government about his property,
but finally received compensation. True to the Ermatinger disposition,
the trader then withdrew to the Canadian side, retained his British
connection, and carried on trade at Sault Ste. Marie, Drummond Island,
and elsewhere.

A resident of Sault Ste. Marie informs the writer that the family of
Ermatinger about that place is now a very numerous one, "related to
almost all the families, both white and red." Very early in the century
(1814), a passing trader named Franchère arrived from the west country
at the time that the American troops devastated Sault Ste. Marie.
Charles Ermatinger then had his buildings on the Canadian side of the
river, not far from the houses and stores of the North-West Company,
which had been burnt down by the American troops. Ermatinger at the time
was living on the south side of the river temporarily in a house of old
trader Nolin, whose family, the traveller tells us, consisted of "three
half-breed boys and as many girls, one of whom was passably pretty."
Ermatinger had just erected a grist mill, and was then building a stone
house "very elegant." To this home the young lady overtaken by Dr.
Bigsby on the canoe route belonged. Of the two nephews of the doughty
old trader of Sault Ste. Marie, Charles and Francis Ermatinger, who were
prominent in the fur trade, more anon.

The dashing rapids of the St. Mary River are the natural feature which
has made the place celebrated. The exciting feat of "running the rapids"
is accomplished by all distinguished visitors to the place. John
Busheau, or some other dusky canoe-man, with unerring paddle, conducts
the shrinking tourist to within a yard of the boiling cauldron, and
sweeps down through the spray and splash, as his passenger heaves a sigh
of relief.

The obstruction made by the rapids to the navigation of the river, which
is the artery connecting the trade of Lakes Huron and Superior, early
occupied the thought of the fur traders. A century ago, during the
conflict of the North-West Company and the X Y, the portage past the
rapids was a subject of grave dispute. Ardent appeals were made to the
Government to settle the matter. The X Y Company forced a road through
the disputed river frontage, while the North-West Company used a canal
half a mile long, on which was built a lock; and at the foot of the
canal a good wharf and store-house had been constructed. This waterway,
built at the beginning of the century and capable of carrying loaded
canoes and considerable boats, was a remarkable proof of the energy and
skill of the fur traders.

The river and rapids of St. Mary past, the joyful voyageurs hastened to
skirt the great lake of Superior, on whose shores their destination lay.
Deep and cold, Lake Superior, when stirred by angry winds, became the
grave of many a voyageur. Few that fell into its icy embrace escaped.
Its rocky shores were the death of many a swift canoe, and its weird
legends were those of the Inini-Wudjoo, the great giant, or of the
hungry heron that devoured the unwary. Cautiously along its shores Jean
Baptiste crept to Michipicoten, then to the Pic, and on to Nepigon,
places where trading posts marked the nerve centres of the fur trade.

At length, rounding Thunder Cape, Fort William was reached, the goal
of the "mangeur de lard" or Montreal voyageur. Around the walls of
the fort the great encampment was made. The River Kaministiquia was
gay with canoes; the East and West met in rivalry--the wild couriers
of the West and the patient boatmen of the East. In sight of the fort
stood, up the river, McKay Mountain, around which tradition had woven
fancies and tales. Its terraced heights suggest man's work, but it is
to this day in a state of nature. Here in the days of conflict, when
the opposing trappers and hunters went on their expeditions, old Trader
McKay ascended, followed them with his keen eye in their meanderings,
and circumvented them in their plans.

The days of waiting, unloading, loading, feasting, and contending being
over, the Montreal voyageurs turned their faces homeward, and with flags
afloat, paddled away, now cheerfully singing sweet "Alouette."

    "Ma mignonette, embrassez-moi.
    Nenni, Monsieur, je n'oserais,
    Car si mon papa le savait."

    (My darling, smile on me.
    No! No! good sir, I do not dare,
    My dear papa would know! would know!)
    "But who would tell papa?"
    "The birds on the forest tree."

    "Ils parlent français, latin aussi,
    Hélas! que le monde est malin
    D'apprendre aux oiseaux le latin."

    ("They speak French and Latin too,
    Alas! the world is very bad
    To tell its tales to the naughty birds.")

Bon voyage! Bon voyage, mes voyageurs!

[Illustration: MAP OF THE FAR NORTH.]



     The North-West Passage again--Lieut. John Franklin's
     land expedition--Two lonely winters--Hearne's mistake
     corrected--Franklin's second journey--Arctic sea coast
     explored--Franklin knighted--Captain John Ross by sea--Discovers
     magnetic pole--Magnetic needle nearly perpendicular--Back seeks
     for Ross--Dease and Simpson sent by Hudson's Bay Company to
     explore--Sir John in _Erebus_ and _Terror_--The Paleocrystic
     Sea--Franklin never returns--Lady Franklin's devotion--The historic
     search--Dr. Rae secures relics--Captain McClintock finds the cairn
     and written record--Advantages of the search.

The British people were ever on the alert to have their famous sea
captains explore new seas, especially in the line of the discovery of
the North-West Passage. From the time of Dobbs, the discomfiture of
that bitter enemy of the Hudson's Bay Company had checked the advance
in following up the explorations of Davis and Baffin, whose names had
become fixed on the icy sea channels of the North.

Captain Phipps, afterwards Lord Mulgrave, had been the last of the
great captains who had taken part in the spasm of north-west interest
set agoing by Dobbs. Two generations of men had passed when, in 1817,
the quest for the North-West Passage was taken up by Captain William
Scoresby. Scoresby advanced a fresh argument in favour of a new
effort to attain this long-harboured dream of the English captains.
He maintained that a change had taken place in the seasons, and the
position of the ice was such as probably to allow a successful voyage to
be made from Baffin's Bay to Behring Strait.

Sir John Barrow with great energy advocated the project of a new
expedition, and Captain John Ross and Edward Parry were despatched to
the northern seas. Parry's second expedition enabled him to discover
Fury and Hecla Strait, to pass through Lancaster Strait, and to name
the continuation of it Barrow Strait, after the great patron of northern


Meanwhile John Franklin was despatched to cross the plains of Rupert's
Land to forward Arctic enterprise. This notable man has left us an
heritage of undying interest in connection with this movement. A
native of Lincolnshire, a capable and trusted naval officer, who had
fought with Nelson at Copenhagen, who had gone on an Arctic voyage to
Spitzbergen, and had seen much service elsewhere, he was appointed to
command the overland expedition through Rupert's Land to the Arctic Sea,
while Lieutenant Parry sought, as we have seen, the passage with two
vessels by way of Lancaster Sound.

Accompanied by a surgeon--Dr. Richardson--two midshipmen, Back and
Hood, and a few Orkneymen, Lieutenant Franklin embarked from England
for Hudson Bay in June, 1819. Wintering for the first season on the
Saskatchewan, the party were indebted to the Hudson's Bay Company for
supplies, and reached Fort Chipewyan in about a year from the time
of their departure from England. The second winter was spent by the
expedition on the famous barren grounds of the Arctic slope. Their fort
was called Fort Enterprise, and the party obtained a living chiefly from
the game and fish of the region. In the following summer the Franklin
party descended the Coppermine River to the Arctic Sea. Here Hearne's
mistake of four degrees in the latitude was corrected and the latitude
of the mouth of the Coppermine River fixed at 67° 48´ N. Having explored
the coast of the Arctic Sea eastward for six degrees to Cape Turnagain
and suffered great hardships, the survivors of the party made their
return journey, and reached Britain after three years' absence. Franklin
was given the rank of captain and covered with social and literary

Three years after his return to England, Captain Franklin and his
old companions went upon their second journey through Rupert's Land.
Having reached Fort Chipewyan, they continued the journey northward,
and the winter was spent at their erection known as Fort Franklin, on
Great Bear Lake. Here the party divided, one portion under Franklin
going down the Mackenzie to the sea, and coasting westward to Return
Reef, hoping to reach Captain Cook's icy cape of 1778. In this they
failed. Dr. Richardson led the other party down the Mackenzie River
to its mouth, and then, going eastward, reached the mouth of the
Coppermine, which he ascended. By September both parties had gained
their rendezvous, Fort Franklin, and it was found that unitedly they had
traced the coast line of the Arctic Sea through thirty-seven degrees of
longitude. On the return of the successful adventurer, after an absence
of two years, to England, he was knighted and received the highest
scientific honours.


When the British people become roused upon a subject, failure seems
but to whet the public mind for new enterprise and greater effort. The
North-West Passage was now regarded as a possibility. After the coast of
the Arctic Ocean had been traced by the Franklin-Richardson expedition,
to reach this shore by a passage from Parry's Fury and Hecla Strait
seemed feasible.

Two years after the return of Franklin from his second overland journey,
an expedition was fitted out by a wealthy distiller, Sheriff Felix
Booth, and the ship, the _Victory_, provided by him, was placed under
the command of Captain John Ross, who had already gained reputation in
exploring Baffin's Bay. Captain Ross was ably seconded in his expedition
by his nephew, Captain James Ross. Going by Baffin's Bay and through
Lancaster Sound, Prince Regent's Inlet led Ross southward between
Cockburn Island and Somerset North, into an open sea called after
his patron, Gulf of Boothia, on the west side of which he named the
newly-discovered land Boothia Felix. He even discovered the land to the
west of Boothia, calling it King William Land. His ship became embedded
in the ice. After four winters in the Arctic regions he was rescued by a
whaler in Barrow Strait.

One of the most notable events in this voyage of Ross's was his
discovery of the North Magnetic Pole on the west side of Boothia Felix.
During his second winter (1831) Captain Ross determined to gratify his
ambition to be the discoverer of the point where the magnetic needle
stands vertically, as showing the centre of terrestrial magnetism for
the northern hemisphere.

After four or five days' overland journey, with a trying headwind from
the north-west, he reached the sought-for point on June 1st. We deem it
only just to state the discovery in the words of the veteran explorer

"The land at this place is very low near the coast, but it rises into
ridges of fifty or sixty feet high about a mile inland. We could have
wished that a place so important had possessed more of mark or note.
It was scarcely censurable to regret that there was not a mountain to
indicate a spot to which so much interest must ever be attached; and I
could even have pardoned any one among us who had been so romantic or
absurd as to expect that the magnetic pole was an object as conspicuous
and mysterious as the fabled mountain of Sinbad, that it was even a
mountain of iron, or a magnet as large as Mont Blanc. But Nature had
here erected no monument to denote the spot which she had chosen as
the centre of one of her great and dark powers; and where we could do
little ourselves towards this end, it was our business to submit, and to
be content in noting in mathematical numbers and signs, as with things
of far more importance in the terrestrial system, what we could ill
distinguish in any other manner.

"The necessary observations were immediately commenced, and they were
continued throughout this and the greater part of the following day....
The amount of the dip, as indicated by my dipping-needle, was 89° 59´,
being thus within one minute of the vertical; while the proximity at
least of this pole, if not its actual existence where we stood, was
further confirmed by the action, or rather by the total inaction, of
several horizontal needles then in my possession.... There was not one
which showed the slightest effort to move from the position in which it
was placed.

"As soon as I had satisfied my own mind on this subject, I made known
to the party this gratifying result of all our joint labours; and it
was then that, amidst mutual congratulations, we fixed the British flag
on the spot, and took possession of the North Magnetic Pole and its
adjoining territory, in the name of Great Britain and King William the
Fourth. We had abundance of material for building in the fragments of
limestone that covered the beach; and we therefore erected a cairn of
some magnitude, under which we buried a canister containing a record
of the interesting fact, only regretting that we had not the means of
constructing a pyramid of more importance and of strength sufficient
to withstand the assaults of time and of the Esquimaux. Had it been a
pyramid as large as that of Cheops I am not quite sure that it would
have done more than satisfy our ambition under the feelings of that
exciting day. The latitude of this spot is 70° 5´ 17´´ and its longitude
96° 46´ 45´´."

Thus much for the magnetic pole. This pole is almost directly north
of the city of Winnipeg, and within less than twenty degrees of it.
One of Lady Franklin's captains--Captain Kennedy, who resided at Red
River--elaborated a great scheme for tapping the central supply of
electricity of the magnetic pole, and developing it from Winnipeg as a
source of power.


In the third year of Captain Ross's expedition his protracted absence
became a matter of public discussion in Britain. Dr. Richardson, who had
been one of Franklin's followers, offered to take charge of an overland
expedition in search of Ross, but his proposition was not accepted.
Mr. Ross, a brother of Sir John and father of Captain James Ross, was
anxious to find an officer who would take charge of a relief expedition,
and the British Government favoured the enterprise. Captain George Back,
one of the midshipmen who had accompanied Franklin, was favourably
regarded for the important position.

The Hudson's Bay Company was in sympathy with the exploration of its
Arctic possessions and gave every assistance to the project. Nicholas
Garry, the Deputy-Governor of the Company, ably supported it; and the
British Government at last gave its consent to grant two thousand
pounds, provided the Hudson's Bay Company would furnish, according to
its promise, the supplies and canoes free of charge, and that Captain
Ross's friends would contribute three thousand pounds.

Captain Back cordially accepted the offer to command the expedition,
and his orders from the Government were to find Captain Ross, or any
survivors or survivor of his party; and, "subordinate to this, to direct
his attention to mapping what remains unknown of the coasts which he was
to visit, and make such other scientific observations as his leisure
would admit."

In 1833 Captain Back crossed the Atlantic, accompanied by a surgeon,
Dr. Richard King, and at Montreal obtained a party of four regulars of
the Royal Artillery. Pushing on by the usual route, he reached Lake
Winnipeg, and thence by light canoe arrived at Fort Resolution on Great
Slave Lake in August. He wintered at Fort Reliance, near the east end of
Great Slave Lake, which was established by Roderick McLeod, a Hudson's
Bay Company officer, who had received orders to assist the expedition.
Before leaving this point a message arrived from England that Captain
Ross was safe. Notwithstanding this news, in June of the following year
Back and his party crossed the country to Artillery Lake, and drew
their boats and baggage in a most toilsome manner over the ice of this
and three other lakes, till the Great Fish River was reached and its
difficult descent begun.

On July 30th the party encamped at Cape Beaufort, a prominent point of
the inlet of the Arctic Ocean into which the Great Fish River empties.
The expedition again descended the river and returned to England, where
it was well received, and Captain Back was knighted for his pluck and
perseverance. An expedition under Back in the next year, to go by ship
to Wager Bay and then to cross by portage the narrow strip of land
to the Gulf of Boothia, was a failure, and the party with difficulty
reached Britain again.


[Illustration: SIR JOHN FRANKLIN.





Dr. Richard King, who had been Back's assistant and surgeon, now
endeavoured to organize an expedition to the Arctic Ocean by way of Lake
Athabasca and through a chain of lakes leading to the Great Fish
River. This project received no backing from the British Government or
from the Hudson's Bay Company. The Company now undertook to carry out an
expedition of its own. The reasons of this are stated to have been--(1)
The interest of the British public in the effort to connect the
discoveries of Captains Back and Ross; (2) They are said to have desired
a renewal of their expiring lease for twenty-one years of the trade of
the Indian territories; (3) The fact was being pointed out, as in former
years, that their charter required the Company to carry on exploration.

In 1836 the Hudson's Bay Company in London decided to carrying out
the expedition, and gave instructions to Governor Simpson to organize
and despatch it. At Norway House, at the meeting of the Governor and
officers of that year, steps were taken to explore the Arctic Coast. An
experienced Hudson's Bay Company officer, Peter Warren Dease, and with
him an ardent young man, Thomas Simpson, a relation of the Governor, was
placed in charge.

The party, after various preparations, including a course of mathematics
and astronomy received by Thomas Simpson at Red River, made its
departure, and Fort Chipewyan was reached in February, where the
remainder of the winter was spent. As soon as navigation opened, the
descent of the Mackenzie River was made to the mouth. The party then
coasting westward on the Arctic Ocean, passed Franklin's "Return Reef,"
reached Boat Extreme, and Simpson made a foot journey thence to Cape

Having returned to the mouth of the Mackenzie River, the Great Bear
Lake, where Fort Confidence had been erected by the advance guard of the
party, was reached.

The winter was passed at this point, and in the following spring the
expedition descended the Copper-mine River, and coasting eastward along
the Polar Sea, reached Cape Turnagain in August. Returning and ascending
the Coppermine for a distance, the party halted, and Simpson made a land
journey eastward to new territory which he called Victoria Land, and
erected a pillar of stones, taking possession of the country, "in the
name of the Honourable Company, and for the Queen of Great Britain."
Their painful course was then retraced to Fort Confidence, where the
second winter was spent.

On the opening of spring, the Company descended to the coast to carry
on their work. Going eastward, they, after much difficulty, reached new
ground, passed Dease's Strait, and discovered Cape Britannia.

Taking two years to return, Simpson arrived at Fort Garry, and
disappointed at not receiving further instructions, he joined a freight
party about to cross the plains to St. Paul, Minnesota. While on the way
he was killed, either by his half-breed companions or by his own hand.
His body was brought back to Fort Garry, and is buried at St. John's

The Hudson's Bay Company thus made an earnest effort to explore the
coast, and through its agents, Dease and Simpson, may be said to have
been reasonably successful.


After the return of Sir John Franklin from his second overland
expedition in Rupert's Land, Sir John was given the honourable position
of Lieutenant-Governor of Tasmania, and on his coming again to England,
was asked by the Admiralty to undertake a sea voyage for the purpose of
finding his way from Lancaster Sound to Behring's Strait.

Sir John accepted the trust, and his popularity led to the offer of
numerous volunteers, who were willing to undertake the hazards of the
journey. Two excellent vessels, the _Erebus_ and _Terror_, well fitted
out for the journey, were provided, and his expedition started with the
most glowing hopes of success, on May 19th, 1845. Many people in Britain
were quite convinced that the expectation of a north-west passage was
now to be realized.

We know now only too well the barrier which lay in Franklin's way.
Almost directly north-east of the mouth of Fish River, which Back and
Simpson had both found, there lies a vast mass of ice, which can neither
move toward Behring's Strait on account of the shallow opening there,
or to Baffin's Bay on account of the narrow and tortuous winding of the
channels. This, called by Sir George Nares the Paleocrystic Sea, we are
now aware bars the progress of any ship. Franklin had gone down on the
west side of North Somerset and Boothia, and coming against the vast
barrier of the Paleocrystic Sea, had been able to go no further.

Two years after the departure of the expedition from which so much was
expected, there were still no tidings. Preparations were made for an
expedition to rescue the adventurers, and in 1848 the first party of
relief sailed.

For the next eleven years the energy and spirit and liberality
of the British public were something unexampled in the annals of
public sympathy. Regardless of cost or hazard, not less than fifteen
expeditions were sent out by England and the United States on their sad
quest. Lady Franklin, with a heroism and skill past all praise, kept
the eye of the nation steadily on her loss, and sacrificed her private
fortune in the work of rescue. We are not called upon to give the
details of these expeditions, but may refer to a few notable points.

The Hudson's Bay Company at once undertook a journey by land in quest of
the unfortunate navigator. Dr. Richardson, who had gone on Franklin's
first expedition, along with a well-known Hudson's Bay Company officer,
Dr. Rae, scoured the coast of the Arctic Sea, from the mouth of the
Mackenzie to that of the Coppermine River. For two years more, Dr.
Rae continued the search, and in the fourth year (1851) this facile
traveller, by a long sledge journey in spring and boat voyage in summer,
examined the shores of Wollaston and Victoria Land.

A notable expedition took place in the sending out by Lady Franklin
herself of the _Prince Albert_ schooner, under Captain Kennedy, who
afterwards made his home in the Red River settlement. His second in
command was Lieutenant Bellot, of the French Navy, who was a plucky
and shrewd explorer, and who, on a long sledge journey, discovered the
Strait which bears his name between North Somerset and Boothia.

The names of McClure, Austin, Collinson, Sir Edmund Belcher, and Kellett
stand out in bold relief in the efforts--fruitless in this case--made to
recover traces of the unfortunate expedition.

The first to come upon remains of the Franklin expedition was Dr. John
Rae, who, we have seen, had thoroughly examined the coast along the
Arctic Ocean. The writer well remembers meeting Dr. Rae many years after
in the city of Winnipeg and hearing his story.

Rae was a lithe, active, enterprising man. In 1853, he announced that
the drawback in former expeditions had been the custom of carrying a
great stock of provisions and useless impedimenta, and so under Hudson's
Bay Company auspices he undertook to go with gun and fishing tackle up
the west coast of Hudson Bay. This he did, ascended Chesterfield Inlet,
and wintered with eight men at Repulse Bay.

In the next season he made a remarkable journey of fifty-six days, and
succeeded in connecting the discoveries of Captain James Ross with
those of Dease and Simpson, proving King William Land to be an island.
Rae discovered on this journey plate and silver decorations among the
Eskimos, which they admitted had belonged to the Franklin party. Dr. Rae
was awarded a part of the twenty thousand pounds reward offered by the
Imperial Government.

The British people could not, however, be satisfied until something more
was done, and Lady Franklin, with marvellous self-devotion, gave the
last of her available means to add to the public subscription for the
purchase and fitting out of the little yacht _Fox_, which, under Captain
Leopold McClintock, sailed from Aberdeen in 1857. Having in less than
two years reached Bellot Strait, McClintock's party was divided into
three sledging expeditions. One of them, under Captain McClintock, was
very successful, obtaining relics of the lost Franklin and his party and
finding a cairn which contained an authoritative record of the fortunes
of the company for three years. Sir John had died a year before this
record was written. Captain McClintock was knighted for his successful
effort and the worst was now at last known.

The attempt of Sir John and the efforts to find him reflect the highest
honour on the British people. And not only sentiment, but reason was
satisfied. As had been said, "the catastrophe of Sir John Franklin's
expedition led to seven thousand miles of coast line being discovered,
and to a vast extent of unknown country being explored, securing very
considerable additions to geographical knowledge. Much attention was
also given to the collection of information, and the scientific results
of the various search expeditions were considerable."



     A disputed boundary--Sources of the Mississippi--The fur
     traders push southward--Expedition up the Missouri--Lewis and
     Clarke meet Nor'-Westers--Claim of United States made--Sad death of
     Lewis--Lieutenant Pike's journey--Pike meets fur traders--Cautions
     Dakotas--Treaty with Chippewas--Violent death--Long and Keating fix
     49 deg. N.--Visit Fort Garry--Follow old fur traders' route--An
     erratic Italian--Strange adventures--Almost finds source--Beltrami
     County--Cass and Schoolcraft fail--Schoolcraft afterwards
     succeeds--Lake Itasca--Curious origin of name--The source

The Treaty of Paris was an example of magnanimity on the part of Great
Britain to the United States, her wayward Transatlantic child, who
refused to recognize her authority. It is now clearly shown that Lord
Shelbourne, the English Premier, desired to promote good feeling between
mother and daughter as nations. Accordingly the boundary line west of
Lake Superior gave over a wide region where British traders had numerous
establishments, and where their occupation should have counted for

In the treaty of amity and commerce, eleven years afterward, it was
agreed that a line drawn from Lake of the Woods overland to the source
of Mississippi should be the boundary. But, alas! the sources of the
Mississippi for fifty years afterward proved as difficult a problem
as the source of the Nile. In the first decade of this century it was
impossible to draw the southern line of Rupert's Land. The United States
during this period evinced some anxiety in regard to this boundary, and,
as we shall see, a number of expeditions were despatched to explore the
country. The sources of the Mississippi naturally afforded much interest
to the Government at Washington, even though the convention of London
of 1818 had settled the 49 deg. N. as the boundary.

The region west of the Mississippi, which was known as Louisiana,
extended northward to the British possessions, having been transferred
by Spain to the United States in 1803. A number of expeditions to the
marches or boundary land claim a short notice from us, as being bound up
with the history and interests of the Hudson's Bay Company.


Of these, a notable and interesting voyage was that of Captains
Meriwether Lewis and William Clarke, of the United States army. This
expedition consisted of nearly fifty men--soldiers, volunteers,
adventurers, and servants. Being a Government expedition, it was well
provided with stores, Indian presents, weapons, and other necessary
articles of travel. Leaving Wood River, near St. Louis, the party
started up the Missouri in three boats, and were accompanied by two
horses along the bank of the River to bring them game or to hunt in
case of scarcity. After many adventures the expedition, which began
its journey on May 14th, 1804, reached the headquarters of the Mandan
Indians on the Missouri on October 26th.

The Mandans, or, as they have been called, the White Bearded Sioux, were
at this time a large and most interesting people. Less copper-coloured
than the other Indians, agricultural in habit, pottery makers, and
dwelling in houses partly sunk in the earth, their trade was sought from
different directions. We have seen already that Verendrye first reached
them; that David Thompson, the astronomer of the North-West Company,
visited them; that Harmon and others, North-West traders, met them; that
fur traders from the Assiniboine came to them; that even the Hudson's
Bay Company had penetrated to their borders. The Mandans themselves
journeyed north to the Assiniboine and carried Indian corn, which they
grew, to Rupert's Land to exchange for merchandise. The Mandan trail can
still be pointed out in Manitoba.

A fur trader, Hugh McCracken, met Lewis and Clarke at this point, and
we read, "That he set out on November 1st on his return to the British
fort and factory on the Assiniboine River, about one hundred and fifty
miles from this place. He took a letter from Captain Lewis to the
North-West Company, enclosing a copy of the passport granted by the
British Minister in the United States."

This shows the uncertainty as to the boundary line, the leaders of the
expedition having provided themselves with this permission in case of

In dealing with the Mandans, Captain Lewis gave them presents, and
"told them that they had heard of the British trader, Mr. Laroche,
having attempted to distribute medals and flags among them; but that
these emblems could not be received from any other than the American
nation, without incurring the displeasure of their Great Father, 'the
President. On December 1st the party was visited by a trader, Henderson,
who came from the Hudson's Bay Company. He had been about eight days on
his route in a direction nearly south, and brought with him tobacco,
beads, and other merchandise to trade for furs, and a few guns which
were to be exchanged for horses. On December 17th Hugh Harvey and
two companions arrived at the camp, having come in six days from the
British establishment on the Assiniboine, with a letter from Mr. Charles
Chaboillez, one of the North-West Company, who, with much politeness,
offered to render us any service in his power."

With the expedition of Lewis and Clarke we have little more to do. It
successfully crossed from the sources of the Missouri, over the Rocky
Mountains to the Columbia, descended it to the mouth, and returned by
nearly the same route, reaching the mouth of the Missouri in 1806.

The expedition of Lewis and Clarke has become the most celebrated of the
American transcontinental ventures. Its early presence at the mouth of
the Columbia River gave strength to the claim of the United States for
that region; it was virtually a taking possession of the whole country
from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean; it had a picturesqueness and
an interest that appealed to the national mind, and the melancholy
death of Captain Lewis, who, in 1809, when the American Government
refused to fulfil its engagements with him, blew out his brains, lends
an impressiveness to what was really a great and successful undertaking.


The source or sources of the Mississippi was, as we have seen, an
important matter in settling the boundary line between the possessions
of Great Britain and the United States. The matter having occupied the
authorities at Washington, Zebulon M. Pike, a lieutenant of the United
States army, was sent to examine the country upon the Upper Mississippi
and to maintain the interests of the Government in that quarter. Leaving
St. Louis on August 9th, 1805, he ascended the "Father of Waters," and
reached Prairie du Chien in September. Here he was met by the well-known
free-traders who carried on the fur trade in this region. Their names
were Fisher, Frazer and Woods. These men were in the habit of working
largely in harmony with the North-West Company traders, and, on account
of their British origin, were objects of suspicion to the United States
authorities. Pushing on among the Indians, by the help of French
Canadian interpreters, he came to Lake Pepin. On the shores of this
lake Pike met Murdoch Cameron, the principal British free-trader on the
upper Minnesota River. Cameron was a shrewd and daring Scotchman, noted
for his generosity and faithfulness. He was received with distinction
by Pike, and the trader as shown by his grave, pointed out many years
afterward on the banks of the Minnesota, was in every way worthy of the
attention. Shortly after this, Pike passed near where the city of St.
Paul, Minn., stands to-day, the encampment of J. B. Faribault, a French
Canadian free-trader of note, whose name is now borne by an important
town south of St. Paul. Pike held a council with the Dakota Indians, and
purchased from them a considerable amount of land for military purposes,
for which the Senate paid them the sum of two thousand dollars. Pike
seems to have cautioned the Dakotas or Sioux to beware of the influence
of the English, saying, "I think the traders who come from Canada are
bad birds among the Chippeways, and instigate them to make war upon
their red brothers, the Sioux."

About the end of October, unable to proceed further up the Mississippi
on account of ice, Pike built a blockhouse, which he enclosed with
pickets, and there spent the most severe part of the winter.

At his post early in December he was visited by Robert Dickson, a
British fur trader, described by Neill as "a red-haired Scotchman, of
strong intellect, good family, and ardent attachment to the crown
of England, who was at the head of the Indian trade in Minnesota."
Pike himself speaks of Dickson as a "gentleman of general commercial
knowledge and of open, frank manners." Explanations took place between
the Government agent and the trader as to the excessive use of spirits
by the Indians.

On December 10th Pike started on a journey northward in sleds, taking
a canoe with him for use so soon as the river should open. When Pike
arrived near Red Cedar Lake, he was met by four Chippewa Indians, a
Frenchman, and one of the North-West traders, named Grant. Going with
Grant to his establishment on the shores of the lake, Pike tells us,
"When we came in sight of the house I observed the flag of Great Britain
flying. I felt indignant, and cannot say what my feelings would have
excited me to had Grant not told me that it belonged to the Indians."

On February 1st Pike reached Leech Lake, which he considered to be the
main source of the Mississippi. He crossed the lake twelve miles to
the establishment of the North-West Company, which was in charge of a
well-known North-West trader, Hugh McGillies. While he was treated with
civility, it is plain from his cautions to McGillies and his bearing to
him, that he was jealous of the influence which British traders were
then exercising in Minnesota.

Having made a treaty with the Chippewa Indians of Red Lake, Pike's work
was largely accomplished, and in April he departed from this region,
where he had shown great energy and tact, to give in his report after a
voyage of some nine months.

A most melancholy interest attaches to this gentlemanly and
much-respected officer of the United States. In the war of 1812-15,
Pike, then made a general, was killed at the taking of York (Toronto),
in Upper Canada, by the explosion of the magazine of the fort evacuated
by General Sheaffe. Pike, as leader on this Mississippi expedition, as
commanding an expedition on the Rio Grande, where he was captured by the
Spaniards, and as a brave soldier, has handed down an honourable name
and fame.


The successful journey of Lewis and Clarke, as well as the somewhat
useful expedition of Lieutenant Pike, led the United States Government
to send in 1823 an expedition to the northern boundary line 49 deg. N.,
which had been settled a few years before. In charge of this was Major
Stephen H. Long. He was accompanied by a scientific corps consisting of
Thomas Say, zoologist and antiquary; Samuel Seymour, landscape painter
and designer; and William H. Keating, mineralogist and geologist, who
also acted as historian of the expedition.

Leaving Philadelphia in April, the company passed overland to Prairie
du Chien on the Mississippi, ascended this river, and going up its
branch, the Minnesota, reached the town of Mendota in the month of
July. A well-known French half-breed, Joseph Renville, acted as guide,
and several others joined the party at this point. After journeying up
the Minnesota River, partly by canoe, and partly by the use of horses,
they reached in thirteen days Big Stone Lake, which is considered to
be the source of the river. Following up the bed of a dried-up stream
for three miles, they found Lake Traverse, the source of the Red River,
and reached Pembina Village, a collection of fifty or sixty log huts
inhabited by half-breeds, numbering about three hundred and fifty. We
have already seen how the North-West and Hudson's Bay Companies had
posts at this place, and that it had been visited regularly by the
Selkirk settlers as being in proximity to the open plains where buffalo
could be obtained. On the day after Long's arrival he saw the return
of the buffalo hunters from the chase. The procession consisted of
one hundred and fifteen carts, each loaded with about eight hundred
pounds of the pressed buffalo meat. There were three hundred persons,
including the women. The number of horses was about two hundred. Twenty
hunters, mounted on their best steeds, rode abreast, giving a salute as
they passed the encampment of the expedition.

One of Major Long's objects in making his Journey was to ascertain the
point where the parallel of 49 deg. N. crossed the Red River. For four
days observations were taken and a flag-staff planted a short distance
south of the 49th parallel. The space to the boundary line was measured
off, and an oak post fixed on it, having on the north side the letters
G. B., and on the south side U. S. This post was kept up and was seen by
the writer in 1871. In 1872, a joint expedition of British and American
engineers took observations and found Long's point virtually correct.
They surveyed the line of 49 deg. eastward to Lake of the Woods and
westward to the Rocky Mountains. Posts were erected at short distances
along the boundary line, many of them of iron, with the words on them,
"Convention of London, 1818."

His work at Pembina having been accomplished, Major Long gave up, on
account of the low country to be passed, the thought of following the
boundary line eastward to the Lake of the Woods. He sold his horses and
took canoes down the river to the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Garry,
where he was much interested in the northern civilization as well as in
the settlers who had Fort Douglas as their centre.

It was August 17th when Long's expedition left Fort Douglas and went
down the Red River. It took but two days to reach the mouth of the river
and cross Lake Winnipeg to Fort Alexander at the mouth of the Winnipeg
River. Six days more brought the swift canoe-men up the river to Lake
of the Woods. At the falls of Rainy River was the Hudson's Bay Company
establishment, then under the charge of fur trader McGillivray. On the
opposite side of the river was the fort of the American Fur Company.
Following the old route, they reached Grand Portage, September 12th,
and thence the expedition returned to the East. Major Long's expedition
was a well-conducted and successful enterprise. Its members were of
the highest respectability, and the two volumes written by Secretary
Keating have the charm of real adventure about them.


When Major Long was leaving Fort Snelling, on the Mississippi, to go
upon the expedition we have just described, an erratic but energetic and
clever Italian, named J. C. Beltrami, asked to be allowed to accompany
him. This aspiring but wayward man has left us a book, consisting of
letters addressed to Madame la Comtesse Compagoni, a lady of rank
in Florence, which is very interesting. On starting he wrote, "My
first intention, that of going in search of the real source of the
Mississippi, was always before my eyes."

Beltrami, while clever, seems to have been a man of insufferable
conceit. On the journey to Big Stone Lake and thence along the river, in
the buffalo hunts, in conferences with the Sioux, the Italian adventurer
awakened the resentment of the commander of the expedition, who refused
to allow him to accompany his party further. This proved rather
favourable to the purpose of Beltrami, who, with a half-breed guide and
Chippewa Indians, started to go eastward, having a mule and a dog train
as means of transport. After a few days' journey the guide left him,
returning with the mule and dog train to Pembina. Next his Indian guide
deserted him, fearing the Sioux, and Beltrami was left to make his way
in a canoe up the river to Red Lake. Inexperienced in the management of
a birch bark canoe, Beltrami was upset, but he at length proceeded along
the bank and shallows of the river, dragging the canoe with a tow line
after him, and arrived in miserable plight at Red Lake.

Here he engaged a guide and interpreter, and writes that he went "where
no white man had previously travelled." He was now on the highway to
renown. He was taken from point to point on the many lakes of Northern
Minnesota, and affixed names to them. On August 20th, 1823, he went over
several portages, led by his guide to Turtle Lake, which was to him a
source of wonder, as he saw it from the flow of waters south to the
Gulf of Mexico, north to the Frozen Sea, east to the Atlantic, and west
toward the Pacific Ocean.

His own words are: "A vast platform crosses this distinguished supreme
elevation, and, what is more astonishing, in the midst of it rises a
lake. How is this lake formed? Whence do its waters proceed? This lake
has no issue! And my eyes, which are not deficient in sharpness, cannot
discover in the whole extent of the clearest and widest horizon any
land which rises above it. All places around it are, on the contrary,
considerably lower."

Beltrami then went to examine the surrounding country, and found the
lake, to which he gave the name of Lake Julia, to be bottomless.
This lake he pronounces to be the source of the Mississippi River.
This opinion was published abroad and accepted by some, but later
explorations proved him to be wrong. A small lake to the south-west,
afterwards found to be the true source, was described to him by his
guide as Lac La Biche, and he placed this on his chart as "Doe Lake,"
the west source of the Mississippi. It is a curious fact that Lake
Julia was the same lake surveyed twenty-five years before by astronomer

After further explorations, Beltrami returned to Fort Snelling, near St.
Paul, Minn., being clothed in Indian garments, with a piece of bark for
a hat.

The intrepid explorer found his way to New Orleans, where he published
"La Découverte des Sources du Mississippi." Though the work was
criticized with some severity, yet Beltrami, on his arrival at London
in 1827, published "A Pilgrimage in Europe and America" in two volumes,
which are the source of our information. The county in Minnesota, which
includes both Julia and Doe Lakes, is appropriately called Beltrami


Lewis Cass, of New Hampshire was appointed Governor of Michigan in 1813.
Six years after this he addressed the Secretary of War in Washington,
proposing an expedition to and through Lake Superior, and to the
sources of the Mississippi. It was planned for an examination of the
principal features of the North-West tributary to Lake Superior and
the Mississippi River. This was sanctioned in 1820, and the expedition
embarked in May of that year at Detroit, Michigan, Henry Schoolcraft
being mineralogist, and Captain D. B. Douglas topographer and astronomer.

The expedition, after much contrary weather, reached Sault Ste. Marie,
and the Governor, after much difficulty, here negotiated a treaty with
the Indians. Going by way of the Fond du Lac, the party entered the
St. Louis River, and made a tiresome portage to Sandy Lake station.
This fur-trading post the party left in July, and ascended the Upper
Mississippi to the Upper Cedar Lake, the name of which was changed
to Lake Cassina, and afterwards Cass Lake. From the Indians Governor
Cass learned that Lac La Biche--some fifty miles further on--was the
true source of the river, but he was deterred by their accounts of the
lowness of the water and the fierceness of the current from attempting
the journey any further. The expedition ingloriously retired from the
project, going down to St. Anthony Falls, ascending the Wisconsin River,
and thence down Fox River. The Governor himself in September arrived in
Detroit, having crossed the Southern Peninsula of Michigan on horseback.

Hon. J. W. Brown says: "When Governor Cass abandoned his purpose to
ascend the Mississippi to its source, he was within an easy distance,
comparatively speaking, of the goal sought for. Less timidity had often
been displayed in canoe voyages, even in the face of low water, and an
O-z-a-win-dib or a Keg-wed-zis-sag, Indian guides, would have easily won
the battle of the day for Governor Cass."


Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, of good family, was born in New York State, and
was educated in that State and in Vermont. His first expedition was in
company with De Witt Clinton in a journey to Missouri and Arkansas. On
his return he published two treatises which gave him some reputation
as an explorer and scientist. We have already spoken of the part taken
by him in the expedition of Governor Cass. He received after this the
appointment of "Superintendent of Indian Affairs" at Sault Ste. Marie,
and to this we are indebted for the treasury of Indian lore published in
four large quarto volumes, from which Longfellow obtained his tale of

In 1830 Schoolcraft received orders from Washington, ostensibly for
conference with the Indians, but in reality to determine the source
of the Mississippi. The Rev. W. T. Boutwell, representing a Board of
Missions, accompanied the expedition.

Lac La Biche was already known to exist, and to this Schoolcraft pointed
his expedition. On their journey outward Schoolcraft suddenly one day
asked Boutwell the Greek and Latin names for the headwaters or true
source of a river. Mr. Boutwell could not recall the Greek, but gave
the two Latin words--_veritas_ (truth) and _caput_ (head). These were
written on a slip of paper, and Mr. Schoolcraft struck out the first and
last three letters, and announced to Boutwell that "Itasca shall be the
name." It is true that Schoolcraft wrote a stanza in which he says, "By
fair Itasca shed," seemingly referring to an Indian maiden. Boutwell,
however, always maintained his story of the name, and this is supported
by the fact that the word was never heard in the Ojibway mythology.

The party followed the same route as that taken by Governor Cass on his
journey, reaching Cass Lake on July 10th, 1832. Taking the advice of
Ozawinder, a Chippewa Indian, they followed up their journey in birch
bark canoes, went up the smaller fork of the Mississippi, and then by
portage reached the eastern extremity of La Biche or Itasca Lake.

The party landed on the island in the lake which has since been known
as Schoolcraft Island, and here raised their flag. After exploring the
shores of the lake, he returned to Cass Lake, and, full of pride of
his discovery, journeyed home to Sault Ste. Marie. On the map drawn
to illustrate Schoolcraft's inland journey occurs, beside the lake of
his discovery, the legend, "Itasca Lake, the source of the Mississippi
River; length from Gulf of Mexico, 3,160 miles; elevation, 1,500 ft.
Reached July 13th, 1832."





     Fascination of an unknown land--Adventure, science,
     or gain--Lieutenant Lefroy's magnetic survey--Hudson's Bay
     Company assists--Winters at Fort Chipewyan--First scientific
     visit to Peace River--Notes lost--Not "gratuitous canoe
     conveyance"--Captain Palliser and Lieutenant Hector--Journey
     through Rupert's Land--Rocky Mountain passes--On to the coast--A
     successful expedition--Hind and Dawson--To spy out the land for
     Canada--The fertile belt--Hind's description good--Milton and
     Cheadle--Winter on the Saskatchewan--Reach Pacific Ocean in a
     pitiable condition--Captain Butler--The horse Blackie and dog "Cerf
     Vola"--Fleming and Grant--"Ocean to ocean"--"Land fitted for a
     healthy and hardy race"--Waggon road and railway.

The vast area of Rupert's Land and the adjoining Indian territories have
always had a fascination for the British imagination; and not alone its
wide extent, but its being a fur traders' paradise, and in consequence
largely a "terra incognita," has led adventurous spirits to desire to
explore it.

Just as Sir John Mandeville's expedition to the unknown regions of Asia
in the fourteenth century has appealed to the hardy and brave sons of
Britain from that early day; and in later times the famous ride of
Colonel Burnaby to Khiva in our own generation has led Central Asia to
be viewed as a land of mystery; so the plains of Rupert's Land, with the
reputed Chinese wall thrown around them by the Hudson's Bay Company's
monopoly, have been a favourite resort for the traveller, the mighty
hunter, and the scientist.

It is true no succeeding records of adventure can have the interest
for us that gathers around those of the intrepid Verendrye, the
mysterious Hearne, or the heroic Alexander Mackenzie, whose journeys we
have already described, yet many daring adventurers who have gone on
scientific or exploratory expeditions, or who have travelled the wide
expanse for sport or for mere curiosity, may claim our attention.


The discovery of the magnetic pole by Sir John Ross, and the continued
interest in the problems connected with the Arctic Sea, the romance
of the North land, and the dream of a North-West Passage, led to the
desire to have a scientific survey of the wide expanse of Rupert's Land.
The matter was brought to the notice of the Royal Society by Major,
afterwards General Sir Edward Sabine, a noted student of magnetism.
Sir John Herschell, the leading light on the subject of physics,
succeeded in inducing the Society to pronounce a favourable opinion
on the project, and the strong influence of the Royal Society, under
the presidency of the Marquis of Northampton, induced the Lords of the
Treasury to meet the estimated expenses, nine hundred and ten pounds,
with the understanding that, as stated by the President, gratuitous
canoe conveyance would be provided by the Hudson's Bay Company in the
territories belonging to them.

Lieutenant, afterwards General Sir Henry Lefroy, a young artillery
officer, was selected to go upon the journey. A circular letter was sent
to the Hudson's Bay Company posts by Governor Simpson, directing that
every assistance should be given to the survey. Lefroy, having wintered
in Montreal, was given a passage on May 1st, 1842, on the canoes for
the North-West. Passing up the Ottawa and along the fur traders'
route, he soon reached Sault Ste. Marie and Fort William; magnetic
observations, accurate observations of latitude and longitude being
made at the Hudson's Bay Company posts along the route. Kakabeka Falls
and the various points along the Kaministiquia route were examined, and
exchanging the "canot de maître" for the "canot de Nord," by way of Lake
of the Woods and Lake Winnipeg, the observer arrived at Fort Garry on
June 29th, having found Sir George Simpson at Lower Fort Garry.

After a close examination of the Red River Valley and some geological
observations on the west side of Lake Winnipeg, Lefroy made his way to
Norway House, and then by the watercourses, four hundred miles, to York
Factory. Having done good work on the Bay, he made the return journey to
Norway House, and on August 22nd, Cumberland House on the Saskatchewan
was gained. Here he adopted the latitude and longitude taken by
Franklin's two land expeditions, and here took seven independent
observations of variation and dip of the magnetic needle.

Now striking energetically northward, and stopping long enough at the
posts to take the necessary observations, the explorer arrived at Fort
Chipewyan on September 23rd. It was twelve years since the dwellers on
Lake Athabasca had been visited by any traveller from the south, and
Lefroy's voyageurs, as they completed their three thousand miles of
journey, decked out in their best apparel, made the echoes of the lake
resound with their gay chansons. Lefroy wintered in the fort, where the
winter months were enjoyed in the well-selected library of the Company
and the new experiences of the fur trader's life, while his voyageurs
went away to support themselves at a fishing station on the lake.

The summer of 1843 was spent in a round of thirteen hundred and forty
miles, going from Lake Athabasca, up the Peace River to Fort Dunvegan,
then by way of Lower Slave Lake to Edmonton, and down the Saskatchewan
to Cumberland. Lefroy claims that no scientific traveller had visited
the Peace River since the time of Alexander Mackenzie, fifty-five years
before. Unfortunately, Lefroy's notes of this journey and some of his
best observations were lost in his return through the United States, and
could not be replaced.

In March, 1844, Lieutenant Lefroy left Lake Athabasca, and travelled
on snow shoes to Fort Resolution on Great Slave Lake, and thence to
Fort Simpson, four hundred and fifty miles, having his instruments
for observation borne on dog sleds. This journey was made in nineteen
days. Waiting at the Fort till May, he accomplished the descent of the
Mackenzie River after the breaking up of the ice, and reached Fort Good
Hope. The return journey to Fort Resolution was made at a very rapid
rate, and the route thence to Lake Athabasca was followed. The diary
ends June 30th, 1844.

At the close of the expedition some misunderstanding arose as to the
settlement of the accounts. The Hudson's Bay Company had promised to
give "gratuitous canoe conveyance." The original plan of the journey
was, however, much changed, and Lieutenant Lefroy was a much greater
expense to the Company than had been expected. A bill of upwards of
twelve hundred pounds was rendered by the Hudson's Bay Company to the
Royal Society. After certain explanations and negotiations a compromise
of eight hundred and fifty pounds was agreed on, and this was paid by
the Treasury Department to the Company.

The work done by Lieutenant Lefroy was of the most accurate and valuable
kind. His name is remembered as that of one of the most trustworthy
of the explorers of the plains of Rupert's Land and the North, and is
commemorated by Fort Lefroy in the Rocky Mountains. It is true his
evidence, recorded in the Blue Book of 1857, was somewhat disappointing,
but his errors were those of judgment, not of prejudice or intention.


The approach of the time when the twenty-one years' lease of the Indian
territories granted by the Imperial Parliament to the Hudson's Bay
Company was drawing near a close in 1857, when the Committee of the
House of Commons met in February of this year to consider the matter. A
vast mass of evidence was taken, and the consideration of the Blue Book
containing this will afford us material for a very interesting chapter.
The interest in the matter, and the necessity for obtaining expert
information, led the Imperial Government to organize an expedition under
Captain John Palliser, R.N.A., of the Royal Engineers. With Captain
Palliser, who was to go up the Canadian lakes to the interior, was
associated Lieutenant Blakiston, R.N., who received orders to proceed
by ship to York Factory and meet the main expedition at some point in
Rupert's Land. The geologist of the expedition was James Hector, M.D.
(Edin.). J. W. Sullivan was secretary and M. E. Bourgeau, botanist.

After the usual incidents of an ocean voyage, some difficulty with the
Customs authorities in New York arose as to the entry of astronomical
instruments, which was happily overcome, and after a long journey by
way of Detroit, Sault Ste. Marie was reached, where Palliser found two
birch bark canoes and sixteen voyageurs awaiting him, as provided by the
Hudson's Bay Company. Sir George Simpson had lately passed this point.
Journeying along the fur traders' route, the explorers found themselves
expected at Fort Frances, on Rainy River.

Here a deputation of Indians waited upon them, and the old chief
discoursed thus: "I do not ask for presents, although I am poor and my
people are hungry, but I know you have come straight from the Great
Country, and we know that no men from that country ever came to us and
lied. I want you to declare to us truthfully what the Great Queen of
your country intends to do to us when she will take the country from the
fur company's people. All around me I see the smoke of the white men to
rise. The 'Long Knives' (the Americans) are trading with our neighbours
for their lands and they are cheating them and deceiving them. Now, we
will not sell nor part with our lands."

Having reached Fort Garry, Captain Palliser divided his party, sending
one section west, and himself going south to the boundary line with the
other. Going west from Pembina, Palliser reached the French half-breed
settlement of St. Joseph (St. Jo.), and some days afterwards Turtle
Mountain. Thence he hurried across country to Fort Ellice to meet the
other portion of his expedition.

While the tired horses rested here he made an excursion of a notable
kind to the South-West. This was to the "Roches Percées" on the Souris
River. This is a famous spot, noted for the presence of Tertiary
sandstone exposures, which have weathered into the most fantastic
shapes. It is a sacred spot of the Indians. Here, as at the "Red
Pipestone Quarry," described by Longfellow, and not more than one
hundred and fifty miles distant from it, Sioux, Assiniboines, and Crees
meet in peace. Though war may prevail elsewhere, this spot is by mutual
agreement kept as neutral. At this point Palliser saw a great camp of

Returning from this side excursion, the Captain resumed his command, and
having obtained McKay, the Hudson's Bay Company officer at Fort Ellice,
with Governor Christie's permission, set off by way of Qu'Appelle Lakes
for the elbow of the Saskatchewan.

On the South Saskatchewan Palliser came to the "heart of the buffalo
country." The whole region as far as the eye could reach was covered
with the buffalo in bands varying from hundreds to thousands. So vast
were the herds, that he began to have serious apprehensions for his
horses, as "the grass was eaten to the earth, as if the place had been
devastated by locusts."

Crossing the Saskatchewan the explorers went northward to Fort Carlton
on the north branch, where the party wintered while Captain Palliser
returned to Canada, paying 65_l._ to a Red River trader to drive him
five hundred and twenty miles from Fort Garry to Crow Wing, the nearest
Minnesota settlement. Palliser's horse, for which he had bargained, was
killed at Pembina, and he walked the four hundred and fifty miles of the
journey, which was made with painful slowness by the struggling horses
and sleds of the traders.

In June of the following year Palliser left Fort Carlton, part of his
command going to the Red Deer River, the other part to visit Fort Pitt
and Edmonton House. From Edmonton the explorer reports that during
the summer, his men had succeeded in finding a pass through the Rocky
Mountains, one not only practicable for horses, but which, with but
little expense, could be rendered available for carts also.

He also states the passes discovered by him to be:--

(1) Kananaskis Pass and Vermilion Pass;

(2) Lake Pass and Beaver Foot Pass;

(3) Little Fork Pass;

(4) Kicking Horse Pass--six in all, which, with the North Kootenay (on
British territory), make up seven known passes.

Having wintered at Edmonton, he satisfied himself that this region so
far north and west is a good agricultural region, that the Saskatchewan
region compares favourably with that of the Red River Valley, that the
rule of the country should be given over by the Hudson's Bay Company to
the general Government, and that a railway could be built easily from
the Red River to the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains.

Orders having reached Palliser to proceed, he undertook, in the summer
of 1859, a journey across the Rocky Mountains, following in part the
old Hudson's Bay Company trail. On St. Andrew's Day, the party arrived
at the Hudson's Bay Company post at Vancouver on the Columbia, and was
welcomed by Mr. Graham, the officer in charge.

Taking steamer down the Columbia with his assistant Sullivan, Captain
Palliser went to Victoria, a Hudson's Bay Company establishment on
Vancouver Island, whither they were followed by Dr. Hector. Journeying
south-west to San Francisco, he returned, _viâ_ Isthmus of Panama, to
New York and England.

The expedition was one of the best organized, best managed, and most
successful that visited Rupert's Land. The report is a sensible,
well-balanced, minute, and reliable account of the country passed over.


In the same year that Palliser's expedition was despatched by the
British Government to examine the resources and characteristics of
Rupert's Land, a party was sent by the Canadian Government with similar
ends in view, but more especially to examine the routes and means of
access by which the prairies of the North-West might be reached from
Lake Superior.

The staff of the party was as follows: George Gladman, director;
Professor Henry Youle Hind, geologist; W. H. E. Napier, engineer; S. J.
Dawson, surveyor. These, along with several foremen, twelve Caughnawaga
Iroquois, from near Lachine, and twelve Ojibway Indians from Fort
William, made up a stirring canoe party of forty-four persons.

In July, 1857, the expedition left Toronto, went by land to Collingwood
on Lake Huron, embarked there on the steamer _Collingwood_, and passing
by Sault St. Marie, reached on August 1st Fort William at the mouth of
the Kaministiquia. Mr. John McIntyre, the officer of the Hudson's Bay
Company in charge of Fort William, has given to the writer an account
of the arrival of the party there with their great supply canoes,
trading outfit, and apparatus, piled up high on the steamer's deck--a
great contrast to the scanty but probably more efficient means of
transport found on a Hudson's Bay Company trading journey. The party in
due time went forward over the usual fur traders' route, which we have
so often described, and arrived at Fort Garry early in September.

As the object of the expedition was to spy out the land, the Red River
settlement, now grown to considerable size, afforded the explorers an
interesting field for study. Simple though the conditions of life were,
yet the fact that six or seven thousands of human beings were gaining a
livelihood and were possessed of a number of the amenities of life, made
its impress on the visitors, and Hind's chapters VI. to X. of his first
volume are taken up with a general account of the settlement, the banks
of the Red River, statistics of population, administration of justice,
trade, occupations of the people, missions, education, and agriculture
at Red River.

Having arrived at the settlement, the leaders devised plans for
overtaking their work. The approach of winter made it impossible to plan
expeditions over the plains to any profit. Mr. Gladman returned by canoe
to Lake Superior early in September, Napier and his assistants took
up their abode among the better class of English-speaking half-breeds
between the upper and lower forts on the banks of the Red River. Mr.
Dawson found shelter among his Roman Catholic co-religionists half a
mile from Fort Garry. He and his party were to be engaged during the
winter between Red River and the Lake of the Woods, along the route
afterwards called the Dawson Road, while Hind followed his party up the
western bank of Red River to Pembina, and his own account is that there
was of them "all told, five gentlemen, five half-breeds, six saddle
horses, and five carts, to which were respectively attached four poor
horses and one refractory mule."

This party was returning to Canada, going by way of Crow Wing, thence by
stage coach to St. Paul, on the Mississippi, then by rail unbroken to
Toronto, which was reached after an absence of three and a half months.

The next season Hind was placed in charge of the expedition, and
with new assistants went up the lakes in May, leading them by the
long-deserted route of Grand Portage instead of by Kaministiquia. The
journey from Lake Superior to Fort Garry was made in about twenty-one
days. On their arrival at Red River the party found that Mr. Dawson
had gone on an exploring tour to the Saskatchewan. Having organized
his expedition Hind now went up the Assiniboine to Fort Ellice. The
Qu'Appelle Valley was then explored, and the lake reached from which two
streamlets flow, one into the Qu'Appelle and thence to the Assiniboine,
the other into the Saskatchewan. Descending the Saskatchewan, at the
mouth of which the Grand Rapids impressed the party, they made the
journey thence up Lake Winnipeg and Red River to the place of departure.
The tour was a most interesting one, having occupied all the summer.
Hind was a close observer, was most skilful in working with the Hudson's
Bay Company and its officers, and he gained an excellent view of the
most fertile parts of the country. His estimate of it on the whole
has been wonderfully borne out by succeeding years of experience and


The world at large, after Hind's expedition and the publication of
his interesting observations, began to know more of the fur traders'
land and showed more interest in it. In the years succeeding Hind's
expedition a number of enterprising Canadians reached Fort Garry by way
of St. Paul, Minn., and took up their abode in the country. A daring
band of nearly 200 Canadians, drawn by the gold fever, started in 1862,
on an overland journey to Cariboo; but many of them perished by the way.
Three other well-known expeditions deserve notice.

The first of these was in 1862 by Viscount Milton and Dr. Cheadle.
Coming from England by way of Minnesota to Fort Garry, they stopped at
Red River settlement, and by conveyance crossed the prairies in their
first season as far as Fort Carlton on the North Saskatchewan, and
wintered there. The season was enjoyable, and in spring the explorers
ascended the Saskatchewan to Edmonton, and then, by way of the Yellow
Head Pass, crossed the Rocky Mountains. Their descent down the Thompson
River was a most difficult one. The explorers were nearly lost through
starvation, and on their arrival by way of Fraser River at Victoria
their appearance was most distressing and their condition most pitiable.
A few years ago, in company with a party of members of the British
Association, Dr. Cheadle visited Winnipeg, and at a banquet in the city
expressed to the writer his surprise that the former state of scarcity
of food even on Red River had been so changed into the evident plenty
which Manitoba now enjoys. Milton and Cheadle's "The North-West Passage
by Land" is a most enjoyable book.


In the early months of the year 1870, when Red River settlement was
under the hand of the rebel Louis Riel, a tall, distinguished-looking
stranger descended the Red River in the steamer _International_.
News had been sent by a courier on horseback to the rebel chief that
a dangerous stranger was approaching. The stalwart Irish visitor
was Captain W. F. Butler, of H.M. 69th Regiment of Foot. As the
_International_ neared Fort Garry, Butler, with a well-known resident of
Red River settlement, sprang upon the river-bank from the steamer in the
dark as she turned into the Assiniboine River.

He escaped to the lower part of the settlement, but the knowledge that
he had a letter from the Roman Catholic Archbishop Taché led to the
rebel chief sending for and promising him a safe-conduct. Butler came
and inspected the fort, and again departed to Lake Winnipeg, River
Winnipeg, and Lake of the Woods, where he accomplished his real mission,
in telling to General Wolseley, of the relief expedition coming to drive
away the rebels, the state of matters in the Red River.

Captain Butler then went west, crossed country to the Saskatchewan,
descended the river, and in winter came through, by snow-shoe and dog
train, over Lakes Winnipegoosis and Manitoba to the east, and then to

Love of adventure brought Captain Butler back to the North-West. In
1872 he journeyed through the former fur traders' land, reaching Lake
Athabasca in March, 1873. Ascending the Peace River, he arrived in
Northern British Columbia in May. Through three hundred and fifty miles
of the dense forests of New Caledonia he toiled to reach Quesnel, on the
Fraser, four hundred miles north of Victoria, British Columbia, where he
in due time landed.

Captain Butler has left a graphic, perhaps somewhat embellished, account
of his travels in the books, "Great Lone Land" and "Wild North Land."
The central figure of his first book is the faithful horse "Blackie" and
of the second the Eskimo dog "Cerf-Vola." The appreciative reader feels,
however, especially in the latter, the spirit and power of Milton's and
Cheadle's "North-West Passage by Land" everywhere in these descriptive


Third of these expeditions was that undertaken in 1872, under the
leadership of Sandford Fleming, which has been chronicled in the
work "Ocean to Ocean," by Rev. Principal Grant. The writer saw this
expedition at Winnipeg in the summer of its arrival. It came for the
purpose of crossing the plains, as a preliminary survey for a railway.
The party came up the lakes, and by boat and portage over the traders'
route, and the Dawson Road from Lake of the Woods to Red River, and
halted near Fort Garry. Going westward, they for the most part followed
the path of Milton and Cheadle. Fort Carlton and then Edmonton House
were reached, and the Yellow Head Pass was followed to the North
Thompson River. The forks of the river at Kamloops were passed, and
then the canoe way down the Fraser to the sea was taken. The return
journey was made by way of San Francisco. The expedition did much to
open the way for Canadian emigration and to keep before the minds of
Canadians the necessity for a waggon road across the Rocky Mountains
and for a railway from ocean to ocean as soon as possible. Dr. Grant's
conclusion was: "We know that we have a great North-West, a country like
old Canada--not suited for lotus-eaters to live in, but fitted to rear a
healthy and hardy race."




     Chiefly Scottish and French settlers--Many
     hardships--Grasshoppers--Yellow Head--"Gouverneur
     Sauterelle"--Swiss settlers--Remarkable parchment--Captain
     Bulger, a military governor--Indian troubles--Donald Mackenzie,
     a fur trader, governor--Many projects fail--The flood--Plenty
     follows--Social condition--Lower Fort built--Upper Fort
     Garry--Council of Assiniboia--The settlement organized--Duncan
     Finlayson governor--English farmers--Governor Christie--Serious
     epidemic--A regiment of regulars--The unfortunate major--The people

The cessation of hostilities between the rival Companies afforded
an opportunity to Lord Selkirk's settlement to proceed with its
development. To the scared and harassed settlers it gave the prospects
of peace under their Governor, Alexander Macdonell, who had been in
the fur trade, but took charge of the settlement after the departure
of Miles Macdonell. The state of affairs was far from promising. The
population of Scottish and Irish settlers was less than two hundred.
There were a hundred or thereabout of De Meurons, brought up by Lord
Selkirk, and a number of French voyageurs, free traders or "freemen" as
opposed to _engagés_, and those who, with their half-breed families,
had begun to assemble about the forks and to take up holdings for
themselves. For the last mentioned, the hunt, fishing, and the fur trade
afforded a living; but as to the settlers and De Meurons, Providence
seemed to favour them but little more than the hostile Nor'-Westers had

The settlers were chiefly men who were unacquainted with farming, and
they had few implements, no cattle or horses, and the hoe and spade
were their only means of fitting the soil for the small quantity of
grain supplied them for sowing. Other means of employment or livelihood
there were none. In 1818 the crops of the settlers were devoured by an
incursion of locusts. On several occasions clouds of these destructive
insects have visited Red River, and their ravages are not only serious,
but they paralyze all effort on the part of the husbandmen. The
description given by the prophet Joel was precisely reproduced on the
banks of the Red River, "the land is as the Garden of Eden before them,
and behind them is a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape
them." There was no resource for the settlers but to betake themselves
to Pembina to seek the buffalo. In the next year they sowed their scanty
seed, but the young "grasshoppers," as they were called, rose from the
eggs deposited in the previous year, and while the wheat was in the
blade, cleared it from the fields more thoroughly than any reaper could
have done. This scourge continued till the spring of 1821, when the
locusts disappeared suddenly, and the crop of that year was a bountiful

During these years the colony was understood to be under the personal
ownership of Lord Selkirk. He regarded himself as responsible, as lord
paramount of the district, for the safety and support of the colonists.
In the first year of the settlement he had sent out supplies of food,
clothing, implements, arms, and ammunition; a store-house had been
erected; and this continued during these years to be supplied with what
was needed. It was the Governor's duty to regulate the distribution of
these stores and to keep account of them as advances to the several
settlers, and of the interest charged upon such advances. Whilst the
store was a boon, even a necessity, to the settlers, it was also an
instrument of oppression. Alexander Macdonell was called "Gouverneur
Sauterelle" ("Grasshopper Governor"), the significant statement being
made by Ross "that he was so nicknamed because he proved as great a
destroyer within doors as the grasshoppers in the fields." He seems,
moreover, to have been an extravagant official, being surrounded by
a coterie of kindred spirits, who lived in "one prolonged scene of

With the departure of the grasshoppers from the country departed also
the unpopular and unfaithful Governor. It was only on the visit of Mr.
Halkett, one of Lord Selkirk's executors, that Macdonell's course of
"false entries, erroneous statements, and over-charges" was discovered,
and the accounts of the settlers adjusted to give them their rights. The
disgraceful reign of Governor Macdonell was brought to a close none too

During the period of Governor Macdonell's rule a number of important
events had taken place. The union of the two rival Companies was
accomplished. Clergy, both Roman Catholic and of the Church of England,
had arrived in the colony. A farm had been begun by the Colony officers
on the banks of the Assiniboine, and the name of Hayfield Farm was borne
by it. Perhaps the most notable event was the arrival at Red River of a
number of Swiss settlers. These were brought out by Colonel May, late of
the De Watteville regiment. A native of Berne, he had come to Canada,
but not to Red River.

The Swiss were in many ways an element of interest. Crossing the ocean
by Hudson's Bay Company's ships they arrived at York Factory in August,
1821, and were borne in the Company's York boats to their destination.
Gathered, as they had been, from the towns and villages of Switzerland,
and being chiefly "watch and clock makers, pastry cooks, and musicians,"
they were ill-suited for such a new settlement as that of Red River,
where they must become agriculturists. They seem to have been honest and
orderly people, though very poor.

It will be remembered that the De Meurons had come as soldiers; they
were chiefly, therefore, unmarried men. The arrival of the Swiss, with
their handsome sons and daughters, produced a flutter of excitement
in the wifeless De Meuron cabins along German Creek. The result is
described in the words of a most trustworthy eye-witness of what took
place: "No sooner had the Swiss emigrants arrived than many of the
Germans, who had come to the settlement a few years ago from Canada and
had houses, presented themselves in search of a wife, and having fixed
their attachment with acceptance, they received those families in which
was their choice into their habitations. Those who had no daughters
to afford this introduction were obliged to pitch their tents along
the banks of the river and outside the stockades of the fort, till
they removed to Pembina in the better prospects of provisions for the
winter." The whole affair was a repetition of the old Sabine story.

In connection with these De Meurons and Swiss, it may be interesting to
mention a remarkable parchment agreement which the writer has perused.
It is eleven feet long, and one and a half feet wide, containing the
signatures of forty-nine settlers, of which twenty-five are those of De
Meurons or Swiss, the remainder being of Highlanders and Norwegians.
Among these names are Bender, Lubrevo, Quiluby, Bendowitz, Kralic,
Wassloisky, Joli, Jankosky, Wachter, Lassota, Laidece, Warcklur, Krusel,
Jolicoeur, Maquet, and Lalonde.

This agreement binds the Earl of Selkirk or his agents not to engage
in the sale of spirituous liquors or the fur trade, but to provide
facilities for transport of goods from and into the country, and at
moderate rates. The settlers are bound to keep up roads, to support
a clergyman, and to provide for defence. The document is not only a
curiosity, but historically valuable. There is no date upon it, but the
date is fixed by the signatures, viz. "for the Buffalo Wool Company,
John Pritchard." That Company, we know, began, and as we shall see
afterwards, failed in the years 1821 and 1822. This, accordingly, is the
date of the document marking the era of the fusion of the Hudson's Bay
Company and the Nor'-Westers.

The De Meurons and Swiss never took kindly to Red River. So early as
1822, after wintering at Pembina, a number of them, instead of turning
their faces toward Fort Garry, went up the Red River into Minnesota,
and took up farms where St. Paul now stands, on the Mississippi. They
were the first settlers there. Among their names are those of Garvas,
Pierrie, Louis Massey, and that of Perry, men who became very rich in
herds in the early days of Minnesota.

On the removal of Governor Macdonell, Captain A. Bulger was, in June,
1822, installed as Governor of Assiniboia. His rule only lasted one year
and proved troublous, though he was a high-minded and capable official.
There lies before the writer, "Papers Referring to Red River,"
consisting chiefly of a long letter published by the Captain in India,
written in 1822 to Andrew Colville, one of the executors of Lord Selkirk.

One of his chief troubles was the opposition given him by the Hudson's
Bay Company officer Clarke, who was in charge of their establishment
at the Forks. Every effort was put forth by Clarke to make Bulger's
position uncomfortable, and the opposition drove the Captain away.

Bulger also had a worrying experience with Peguis, the chief of the
Indians on the Lower Red River. Though Peguis and the other chiefs had
made a treaty with Lord Selkirk and ceded certain lands to his Lordship,
they now, with the fickleness of children, repented of their bargain and
sought additional payment for the concession. Bulger's military manner,
however, overcame the chief, and twenty-five lashes administered to an
Indian who had attempted violence had a sobering effect upon the Red man.

Governor Bulger expresses himself very freely on the character of the De
Meuron settlers. He says: "It is quite absurd to suppose they will ever
prove peaceable and industrious settlers. The only charm that Red River
possesses in their eyes, and, I may say, in the eyes of almost all the
settlers, is the colony stores. Their demands are insatiable, and when
refused, their insolence extreme. United as they are among themselves,
and ferocious in their dispositions, nothing can be done against them."
It is but fair, however, to state that the Captain had a low opinion
both of the Hudson's Bay Company's officers and of the French Canadian

Governor Bulger, on retiring, made the following suggestions, which show
the evils which he thought needed a remedy, viz. "to get courts and
magistrates nominated by the King; to get a company of troops sent out
to support the magistrates and keep the natives in order; to circulate
money; to find a market for the surplus grain; to let it be determined
whether the council at York Factory are justified in preventing the
settlers from buying moose or deer skin for clothing and provisions."
The Governor's closing words are, "if these things cannot be done, it
is my sincere advice to you to spend no more of Lord Selkirk's money
upon Red River."

Governor Bulger was succeeded by Robert Pelly, who was the brother of
Sir J. H. Pelly, the Governor of the Company in London. It seems to
have been about this time that the executors of Lord Selkirk, while
not divesting themselves of their Red River possessions, yet in order
to avoid the unseemly conflicts seen in Bulger's time, entrusted the
administration of their affairs to the Company's officers at Red River.
We have seen in a former chapter the appointment of the committee to
manage these Red River affairs at Norway House council.

After two years Pelly retired, and Donald McKenzie, a fur trader who had
taken part in the stirring events of Astoria, to which we have referred,
became Governor.

The discontent of the settlers, and the wish to advance the colony,
led the Company for a number of years after the union of the Companies
to try various projects for the development of the colony. Though the
recital of these gives a melancholy picture of failure, yet it shows a
heartiness and willingness on the part of the Company to do the best for
the settlers, albeit there was in every case bad management.

Immediately after the union of the two fur Companies in 1821, a company
to manufacture cloth from buffalo wool was started. This, of course,
was a mad scheme, but there was a clamour that work should be found
for the hungry immigrants. The Company began operations, and every one
was to become rich. $10,000 of money raised in shares was deposited
in the Hudson's Bay Company's hands as the bankers of the "Buffalo
Wool Company," machinery was obtained, and the people largely gave up
agriculture to engage in killing buffalo and collecting buffalo skins.
Trade was to be the philosopher's stone. In 1822 the bubble burst. It
cost $12.50 to manufacture a yard of buffalo wool cloth on Red River,
and the cloth only sold for $1.10 a yard in London. The Hudson's Bay
Company advanced $12,500 beyond the amount deposited, and a few years
afterwards was under the necessity of forgiving the debt. The Hudson's
Bay Company had thus its lesson in encouraging the settlers.

The money distributed to the settlers through this Company, however,
bought cattle for them, several hundred cattle having been brought from
Illinois that year. A model farm for the benefit of the settlers was
next undertaken. Buildings, implements, and also a mansion, costing
$3,000, for the manager, were provided. A few years of mismanagement and
extravagance brought this experiment to an end also, and the founders
were $10,000 out of pocket. Such was another scheme to encourage the

Driven to another effort by the discontent of the people, Governor
Simpson tried another model farm. At a fine spot on the Assiniboine,
farm dwellings, barns, yards, and stables were erected and fields
enclosed, well-bred cattle were imported, also horses. The farm was well
stocked with implements. Mismanagement, however, again brought its usual
result, and after six years the trial was given up, there having been a
loss to the Company of $17,500.

Nothing daunted, the Red River settlers started the "Assiniboine Wool
Company," but as it fell through upon the first demand for payment of
the stock, it hurt nobody, and ended, according to the proverb, with
"much cry and little wool."

Another enterprise was next begun by Governor Simpson, "The Flax and
Hemp Company," but though the farmers grew a plentiful quantity of
these, the undertaking failed, and the crop rotted on the fields. A more
likely scheme for the encouragement of the settlers was now set on foot
by the Governor, viz. a new sheep speculation. Sheep were purchased in
Missouri, and after a journey of nearly fifteen hundred miles, only two
hundred and fifty sheep out of the original fourteen hundred survived
the hardships of the way.

A tallow company is said to have swallowed up from $3,000 to $5,000 for
the Hudson's Bay Company, and a good deal of money was spent in opening
up a road to Hudson Bay. Thus was enterprise after enterprise undertaken
by the Company, largely for the good of the settlers. If ever an honest
effort was made to advance an isolated and difficult colony, it was in
these schemes begun by the Hudson's Bay Company here.

The most startling event during the rule of Governor Mackenzie was the
Red River flood in 1826. The winter of this year had been severe, and
a great snowfall gave promise of a wet and dangerous spring. The snow
had largely cleared away, when, early in the month of May, the waters
began rising with surprising rapidity. The banks of the rivers were soon
unable to contain the floods, and once on the prairie level the waters
spread for miles east and west in a great lake. The water rose several
feet in the houses of the settlers. When the wind blew the waves dashed
over the roofs. Buildings were undermined and some were floated away.
The settlers were compelled to leave their homes, and took flight to
the heights of Stony Mountain, Little Mountain, Bird's Hill, and other
elevations. For weeks the flood continued, but at last, on its receding,
the homeless settlers returned to their battered and damaged houses,
much disheartened. The crops, however, were sown, though late, and a
fair harvest was gathered in that unpromising year.

The flood was the last straw that broke the back of the endurance of De
Meurons and Swiss colonists. They almost all withdrew from the country
and became settlers in Minnesota and other States of the American Union.
Either from pride or real dislike, the Selkirk settlers declared that
they were well rid of these discontented and turbulent foreigners.

The year of the flood seems to have introduced an era of plenty, for
the people rebuilt their houses, cultivated their fields, received full
returns for their labour, and were enabled to pay off their debts and
improve their buildings. During Governor McKenzie's régime at the time
of the flood, the population of the Red River settlement had reached
fifteen hundred.

After this, though the colony lost by desertions, as we have seen, yet
it continued to gain by the addition of retiring Hudson's Bay Company
officers and servants, who took up land as allowed by the Company in
strips along the river after the Lower Canadian fashion, for which
they paid small sums. There were in many cases no deeds, simply the
registration of the name in the Company's register. A man sold his lot
for a horse, and it was a matter of chance whether the registration
of the change in the lot took place or not. This was certainly a mode
of transferring land free enough to suit an English Radical or even
Henry George. The land reached as far out from the river as could be
seen by looking under a horse, say two miles, and back of this was the
limitless prairie, which became a species of common where all could cut
hay and where herds could run unconfined. Wood, water, and hay were the
necessaries of a Red River settler's life; to cut poplar rails for his
fences in spring and burn the dried rails in the following winter was
quite the authorized thing. There was no inducement to grow surplus
grain, as each settler could only get a market for eight bushels of
wheat from the Hudson's Bay Company. It could not be exported. Pemmican
from the plains was easy to get; the habits of the people were simple;
their wants were few; and while the condition of Red River settlement
was far from being that of an Arcadia, want was absent and the people
were becoming satisfied.

To Governor McKenzie, who ruled well for eight years, credit is due
largely for the peace and progress of the period. Alexander Ross, who
came from the Rocky Mountains to Red River in 1825, is the chronicler
of this period, and it is with amusement we read his gleeful account
of the erection of the first stone building, small though it was, on
the banks of Red River. Lime had been burnt from the limestone, found
abundantly along the lower part of the Red River, during the time of
Governor Bulger. It was in 1830 that the Hudson's Bay Company built a
small powder magazine of stone, near Fort Garry. This was the beginning
of solid architecture in the settlement.

In the following year the Hudson's Bay Company, evidently encouraged
by the thrift and contentment of the people, began the erection of a
very notable and important group of buildings some nineteen miles down
the river from the forks. This was called Lower Fort Garry. It was
built on the solid rock, and was, and is to this day, surrounded by a
massive stone wall. Various reasons have been advanced for the building
of this, the first permanent fort so far from the old centre of trade,
and of the old associations at the "forks." Some have said it was done
to place it among the English people, as the French settlers were
becoming turbulent; some that it was at the head of navigation from Lake
Winnipeg, being north of the St. Andrew's rapids; and some maintained
that the site was chosen as having been far above the high water during
the year of flood, when Fort Douglas and Upper Fort Garry had been
surrounded. The motive will probably never be known; but for a time it
was the residence of the Governor of Rupert's Land when he was in the
country, and was the seat of government. Four years afterwards, when
Alexander Christie had replaced Mr. Donald McKenzie as local governor,
Fort Garry or Upper Fort Garry was begun in 1835 at the forks, but on
higher ground than the original Fort Garry of 1821, which had been
erected after the union of the Companies.

This fort continued the centre of business, government, education, and
public affairs for more than three decades and was the nucleus of the
City of Winnipeg. Sold in the year 1882, the fort was demolished, and
the front gate, now owned by the city, is all that remains of this
historic group of buildings. The destruction of the fort was an act
of vandalism, reflecting on the sordid man who purchased it from the
Hudson's Bay Company.

In Governor Christie's time the necessity was recognized of having a
form of government somewhat less patriarchal than the individual rule
of the local governor had been. Accordingly, the Council of Assiniboia
was appointed by the Hudson's Bay Company, the president being Sir
George Simpson, the Governor of Rupert's Land, and with him fourteen
councillors. It may be of interest to give the names of the members
of this first Council. Besides the president there were: Alexander
Christie, Governor of the Colony; Rev. D. T. Jones, Chaplain H. B. C.;
Right Rev. Bishop Provencher; Rev. William Cochrane, Assistant Chaplain;
James Bird, formerly Chief Factor, H. B. C.; James Sutherland, Esq.; W.
H. Cook, Esq.; John Pritchard, Esq.; Robert Logan, Esq.; Sheriff Alex.
Ross; John McCallum, Coroner; John Bunn, Medical Adviser; Cuthbert
Grant, Esq., Warden of the Plains; Andrew McDermott, Merchant.

It is generally conceded, however, that the Council did not satisfy the
public aspirations. The president and councillors were all declared
either sinecurists or paid servants of the Company. The mass of the
people complained at not being represented. It was, however, a step very
much in advance of what had been, although there was a suspicion in
the public mind that it had something of the form of popular government
without the substance.

At the first meeting of the Council a number of measures were passed.
To preserve order a volunteer corps of sixty men was organized, with
a small annual allowance per man. Of this body, Sheriff Ross was
commander. The settlement was divided into four districts, over each of
which a Justice of the Peace was appointed, who held quarterly courts
in their several jurisdictions. At this court small actions only were
tried, and the presiding magistrate was allowed to refer any case of
exceptional difficulty to the court of Governor and Council. This
higher court sat quarterly also. In larger civil cases and in criminal
cases the law required a jury to be called. A jail and court-house were
erected outside the walls of Fort Garry. To meet the expense involved
under the new institutions a tax of 7-1/2 per cent. duty was levied
on imports and a like duty on exports. The Hudson's Bay Company also
agreed to contribute three hundred pounds a year in aid of public works
throughout the settlement.

The year 1839 was notable in the history of the colony. A new Governor,
Duncan Finlayson, was appointed, and steps were taken also to improve
the judicial system which had been introduced. An appointment was made
of the first recorder for Red River settlement. The new appointee was
a young Scottish lawyer from Montreal, named Adam Thom. He had been
a journalist in Montreal, was of an ardent and somewhat aggressive
disposition, but was a man of ability and broad reading. Judge Thom
was, however, a Company officer, and as such there was an antecedent
suspicion of him in the public mind. It was pointed out that he was not
independent, receiving his appointment and his salary of seven hundred
pounds from the Company. In Montreal he had been known as a determined
loyalist in the late Papineau rebellion, and the French people regarded
him as hostile to their race.

The population of the settlement continued to increase. In the last year
of Governor Finlayson's rule, twenty families of Lincolnshire farmers
and labourers came to the country to assist with their knowledge of
agriculture. After five years' rule Governor Finlayson retired from
office, and was succeeded for a short time by his old predecessor, Mr.
Alexander Christie.

A serious epidemic visited the Red River in the year 1846. Ross
describes it in the following graphic way: "In January the influenza
raged, and in May the measles broke out; but neither of these
visitations proved fatal. At length in June a bloody flux began its
ravages first among the Indians, and others among the whites; like the
great cry in Egypt, 'There was not a house where there was not one
dead,' On Red River there was not a smiling face on 'a summer's day.'
From June 18th to August 2nd, the deaths averaged seven a day, or three
hundred and twenty-one in all, being one out of every sixteen of our
population. Of these one-sixth were Indians, two-thirds half-breeds, and
the remainder white. On one occasion thirteen burials were proceeding at

During this year also the Oregon question, with which we shall
afterwards deal, threatened war between Great Britain and the United
States. The policy of the British Government is, on the first appearance
of trouble, to prepare for hostilities. Accordingly the 6th Royal
Regiment of Foot, with sappers and artillery, in all five hundred
strong, was hurried out under Colonel Crofton to defend the colony.
Colonel Crofton took the place of Alexander Christie as Governor. The
addition of this body of military to the colony gave picturesqueness to
the hitherto monotonous life of Red River. A market for produce and the
circulation of a large sum of money marked their stay on Red River. The
turbulent spirits who had made much trouble were now silenced, or betook
themselves to a safe place across the boundary line.



     A picturesque life--The prairie hunters and traders--Gaily
     caparisoned dog trains--The great winter packets--Joy in the
     lonely forts--The summer trade--The York boat brigade--Expert
     voyageurs--The famous Red River cart--Shagganappe ponies--The
     screeching train--Tripping--The western cayuse--The great buffalo
     hunt--Warden of the plains--Pemmican and fat--the return in triumph.

The great prairies of Rupert's Land and their intersecting rivers
afforded the means for the unique and picturesque life of the prairie
hunters and traders. The frozen, snowy plains and lakes were crossed in
winter by the serviceable sledge drawn by Eskimo dogs, familiarly called
"Eskies" or "Huskies." When summer had come, the lakes and rivers of the
prairies, formerly skimmed by canoes, during the fifty years from the
union of the Companies till the transfer of Rupert's Land to Canada,
were for freight and even rapid transit crossed and followed by York and
other boats. The transport of furs and other freight across the prairies
was accomplished by the use of carts--entirely of wood--drawn by Indian
ponies, or by oxen in harness, while the most picturesque feature of the
prairie life of Red River was the departure of the brigade of carts with
the hunters and their families on a great expedition for the exciting
chase of the buffalo. These salient points of the prairie life of the
last half-century of fur-trading life we may with profit depict.


Under the régime established by Governor Simpson, the communication with
the interior was reduced to a system. The great winter event at Red
River was the leaving of the North-West packet about December 10th. By
this agency every post in the northern department was reached. Sledges
and snow-shoes were the means by which this was accomplished. The sledge
or toboggan was drawn by three or four "Huskies," gaily comparisoned;
and with these neatly harnessed dogs covered with bells, the traveller
or the load of valuables was hurried across the pathless snowy wastes
of the plains or over the ice of the frozen lakes and rivers. The dogs
carried their freight of fish on which they lived, each being fed only
at the close of his day's work, and his allowance one fish.

The winter packet was almost entirely confined to the transport of
letters and a few newspapers. During Sir George Simpson's time an annual
file of the _Montreal Gazette_ was sent to each post, and to some of
the larger places came a year's file of the London _Times_. A box was
fastened on the back part of the sledge, and this was packed with the
important missives so prized when the journey was ended.

Going at the rate of forty or more miles a day with the precious
freight, the party with their sledges camped in the shelter of a
clump of trees or bushes, and built their camp fire; then each in his
blankets, often joined by the favourite dog as a companion for heat,
sought rest on the couch of spruce or willow boughs for the night with
the thermometer often at 30 deg. or 40 deg. below zero F.

The winter packet ran from Fort Garry to Norway House, a distance of
350 miles. At this point the packet was all rearranged, a part of the
freight being carried eastward to Hudson Bay, the other portion up the
Saskatchewan to the western and northern forts. The party which had
taken the packet to Norway House, at that point received the packages
from Hudson Bay and with them returned to Fort Garry. The western mail
from Norway House was taken by another sledge party up the Saskatchewan
River, and leaving parcels at posts along the route, reached its
rendezvous at Carlton House. The return party from that point received
the mail from the North, and hastened to Fort Garry by way of Swan River
district, distributing its treasures to the posts it passed and reaching
Fort Garry usually about the end of February.

At Carlton a party of runners from Edmonton and the Upper Saskatchewan
made rendezvous, deposited their packages, received the outgoing mail,
and returned to their homes. Some of the matter collected from the Upper
Saskatchewan and that brought, as we have seen, by the inland packet
from Fort Garry was taken by a new set of runners to Mackenzie River,
and Athabasca. Thus at Carlton there met three parties, viz. from Fort
Garry, Edmonton, and Athabasca. Each brought a packet and received
another back in return. The return packet from Carlton to Fort Garry,
arriving in February, took up the accumulated material, went with it
to Norway House, the place whence they had started in December, thus
carrying the "Red River spring packet," and at Norway House it was met
by another express, known as the "York Factory spring packet," which
had just arrived. The runners on these various packets underwent great
exposure, but they were fleet and athletic and knew how to act to the
best advantage in storm and danger. They added a picturesque interest to
the lonely life of the ice-bound post as they arrived at it, delivered
their message, and again departed.


The transition from winter to spring is a very rapid one on the plains
of Rupert's Land. The ice upon the rivers and lakes becomes honey-combed
and disappears very soon. The rebound from the icy torpor of winter
to the active life of the season that combines spring and summer is
marvellous. No sooner were the waterways open in the fur-trading days
than freight was hurried from one part of the country to another by
means of inland or York boats.

These boats, it will be remembered, were introduced by Governor Simpson,
who found them more safe and economical than the canoe generally in use
before his time.

Each of these boats could carry three or four tons of freight, and was
manned by nine men, one of them being steersman, the remainder, men for
the oar. Four to eight of these craft made up a brigade, and the skill
and rapidity with which these boats could be loaded or unloaded, carried
past a portage or décharge, guided through rapids or over considerable
stretches of the lakes, was the pride of their Indian or half-breed
tripsmen, as they were called, or the admiration of the officers dashing
past them in their speedy canoes.

The route from York Factory to Fort Garry being a long and continuous
waterway, was a favourite course for the York boat brigade. Many of the
settlers of the Red River settlement became well-to-do by commanding
brigades of boats and carrying freight for the Company. In the earlier
days of Governor Simpson the great part of the furs from the interior
were carried to Fort Garry or the Grand Portage, at the mouth of the
Saskatchewan, and thence past Norway House to Hudson Bay. From York
Factory a load of general merchandise was brought back, which had been
cargo in the Company's ship from the Thames to York. Lake Winnipeg is
generally clear of ice early in June, and the first brigade would then
start with its seven or eight boats laden to the gunwales with furs; a
week after, the second brigade was under way, and thus, at intervals to
keep clear of each other in crossing the portages, the catch of the past
season was carried out. The return with full supplies for the settlers
was earnestly looked for, and the voyage both ways, including stoppages,
took some nine weeks.

Far up into the interior the goods in bales were taken. One of the best
known routes was that of what was called, "The Portage Brigade." This
ran from Lake Winnipeg up the Saskatchewan northward, past Cumberland
House and Ile à la Crosse to Methy Portage, otherwise known as Portage
la Loche, where the waters part, on one side going to Hudson's Bay,
on the other flowing to the Arctic Sea. The trip made from Fort Garry
to Portage la Loche and return occupied about four months. At Portage
la Loche the brigade from the Mackenzie River arrived in time to meet
that from the south, and was itself soon in motion, carrying its year's
supply of trading articles for the Far North, not even leaving out
Peel's River and the Yukon.

The frequent transhipments required in these long and dangerous routes
led to the secure packing of bales, of about one hundred pounds each,
each of them being called an "inland piece." Seventy-five made up the
cargo of a York boat. The skill with which these boats could be laden
was surprising. A good half-breed crew of nine men was able to load a
boat and pack the pieces securely in five minutes.

The boat's crew was under the command of the steersman, who sat on a
raised platform in the stern of the boat. At the portages it was the
part of the steersman to raise each piece from the ground and place
two of them on the back of each tripsman, to be held in place by the
"portage strap" on the forehead. It will be seen that the position
of the captain was no sinecure. One of the eight tripsmen was known
as "bowman." In running rapids he stood at the bow, and with a light
pole directed the boat, giving information by word and sign to the
steersman. The position of less responsibility though great toil was
that of the "middlemen," or rowers. When a breeze blew, a sail hoisted
in the boat lightened their labours. The captain or steersman of each
boat was responsible to the "guide," who, as a commander of the brigade,
was a man of much experience, and consequently held a position of some
importance. Such were the means of transport over the vast water system
of Rupert's Land up to the year 1869, although some years before that
time transport by land to St. Paul in Minnesota had reached large
proportions. Since the date named, railway and steamboat have directed
trade into new channels, for even Mackenzie River now has a Hudson's Bay
Company steamboat.


The lakes and rivers were not sufficient to carry on the trade of the
country. Accordingly, land transport became a necessity. If the Ojibway
Indians found the birch bark canoe and the snow-shoe so useful that they
assigned their origin to the Manitou, then certainly it was a happy
thought when the famous Red River cart was similarly evolved. These
two-wheeled vehicles are entirely of wood, without any iron whatever.

The wheels are large, being five feet in diameter, and are three inches
thick. The felloes are fastened to one another by tongues of wood, and
pressure in revolving keeps them from falling apart. The hubs are thick
and very strong. The axles are wood alone, and even the lynch pins are
wooden. A light box frame, tightened by wooden pegs, is fastened by the
same agency and poised upon the axle. The price of a cart in Red River
of old was two pounds.

The harness for the horse which drew the cart was made of roughly-tanned
ox hide, which was locally known as "shagganappe." The name
"shagganappe" has in later years been transferred to the small-sized
horse used, which is thus called a "shagganappe pony."

The carts were drawn by single ponies, or in some cases by stalwart
oxen. These oxen were harnessed and wore a collar, not the barbarous
yoke which the ox has borne from time immemorial. The ox in harness has
a swing of majesty as he goes upon his journey. The Indian pony, with
a load of four or five hundred pounds in a cart behind him, will go at
a measured jog-trot fifty or sixty miles a day. Heavy freighting carts
made a journey of about twenty miles a day, the load being about eight
hundred pounds.

A train of carts of great length was sometimes made to go upon some
long expedition, or for protection from the thievish or hostile bands
of Indians. A brigade consisted of ten carts, under the charge of three
men. Five or six more brigades were joined in one train, and this was
placed under the charge of a guide, who was vested with much authority.
He rode on horseback forward, marshalling his forces, including the
management of the spare horses or oxen, which often amounted to twenty
per cent. of the number of those drawing the carts. The stopping-places,
chosen for good grass and a plentiful supply of water, the time
of halting, the management of brigades, and all the details of a
considerable camp were under the care of this officer-in-chief.

One of the most notable cart trails and freighting roads on the prairies
was that from Fort Garry to St. Paul, Minnesota. This was an excellent
road, on the west side of the Red River, through Dakota territory
for some two hundred miles, and then, by crossing the Red River into
Minnesota, the road led for two hundred and fifty miles down to St.
Paul. The writer, who came shortly after the close of the fifty years
we are describing, can testify to the excellence of this road over the
level prairies. At the period when the Sioux Indians were in revolt and
the massacre of the whites took place in 1862, this route was dangerous,
and the road, though not so smooth and not so dry, was followed on the
east side of the Red River.

Every season about three hundred carts, employing one hundred men,
departed from Fort Garry to go upon the "tip," as it was called, to
St. Paul, or in later times to St. Cloud, when the railway had reached
that place. The visit of this band coming from the north, with their
wooden carts, "shagganappe" ponies, and harnessed oxen, bringing huge
bales of precious furs, awakened great interest in St. Paul. The late
J. W. Taylor, who for about a quarter of a century held the position of
American Consul at Winnipeg, and who, on account of his interest in the
North-West prairies, bore the name of "Saskatchewan Taylor," was wont
to describe most graphically the advent, as he saw it, of this strange
expedition, coming, like a Midianitish caravan in the East, to trade at
the central mart. On Sundays they encamped near St. Paul. There was the
greatest decorum and order in camp; their religious demeanour, their
honest and well-to-do appearance, and their peaceful disposition were
an oasis in the desert of the wild and reckless inhabitants of early

Another notable route for carts was that westward from Fort Garry by way
of Fort Ellice to Carlton House, a distance of some five hundred miles.
It will be remembered that it was by this route that Governor Simpson in
early days, Palliser, Milton, and Cheadle found their way to the West.
In later days the route was extended to Edmonton House, a thousand miles
in all. It was a whole summer's work to make the trip to Edmonton and

On the Hudson's Bay Company reserve of five hundred acres around Fort
Garry was a wide camping-ground for the "trippers" and traders. Day
after day was fixed for the departure, but still the traders lingered.
After much leave-taking, the great train started. It was a sight to be
remembered. The gaily-caparisoned horses, the hasty farewells, the hurry
of women and children, the multitude of dogs, the balky horses, the
subduing and harnessing and attaching of the restless ponies, all made
it a picturesque day.

The train in motion appealed not only to the eye, but to the ear as
well, the wooden axles creaked, and the creaking of a train with every
cart contributing its dismal share, could be heard more than a mile
away. In the Far-West the early traders used the cayuse, or Indian
pony, and "travoie," for transporting burdens long distances. The
"travoie" consisted of two stout poles fastened together over the back
of the horse, and dragging their lower ends upon the ground. Great
loads--almost inconceivable, indeed--were thus carried across the
pathless prairies. The Red River cart and the Indian cayuse were the
product of the needs of the prairies.


A generation had passed since the founding of the Selkirk settlement,
and the little handful of Scottish settlers had become a community of
five thousand. This growth had not been brought about by immigration,
nor by natural increase, but by what may be called a process of
accretion. Throughout the whole of Rupert's Land and adjoining
territories the employés of the Company, whether from Lower Canada or
from the Orkney Islands, as well as the clerks and officers of the
country, had intermarried with the Indian women of the tribes.

When the trader or Company's servant had gained a competence suited to
his ideas, he thought it right to retire from the active fur trade and
float down the rivers to the settlement, which the first Governor of
Manitoba called the "Paradise of Red River." Here the hunter or officer
procured a strip of land from the Company, on it erected a house for
the shelter of his "dusky race," and engaged in agriculture, though
his former life largely unfitted him for this occupation. In this way,
four-fifths of the population of the settlement were half-breeds, with
their own traditions, sensibilities, and prejudices--the one part of
them speaking French with a dash of Cree mixed with it, the other
English which, too, had the form of a Red River patois.

We have seen that tripping and hunting gave a livelihood to some, if not
the great majority, but these occupations unfitted men for following the
plough. In addition there was no market for produce, so that agriculture
did not in general thrive. One of the favourite features of Red River,
which fitted in thoroughly with the roving traditions of the large part
of the population, was the annual buffalo hunt, which, for those who
engaged in it, occupied a great portion of the summer.

We have the personal reminiscences of the hunt by Alexander Ross,
sometime sheriff of Assiniboia, which, as being lively and graphic, are
worthy of being reproduced.

Ross says: "Buffalo hunting here, like bear baiting in India, has become
a popular and favourite amusement among all classes; and Red River,
in consequence, has been brought into some degree of notice by the
presence of strangers from foreign countries. We are now occasionally
visited by men of science as well as men of pleasure. The war road of
the savage and the solitary haunt of the bear have of late been resorted
to by the florist, the botanist, and the geologist; nor is it uncommon
nowadays to see officers of the Guards, knights, baronets, and some of
the higher nobility of England and other countries coursing their steeds
over the boundless plains and enjoying the pleasures of the chase among
the half-breeds and savages of the country. Distinction of rank is, of
course, out of the question, and at the close of the adventurous day
all squat down in merry mood together, enjoying the social freedom of
equality round Nature's table and the novel treat of a fresh buffalo
steak served up in the style of the country, that is to say, roasted on
a forked stick before the fire; a keen appetite their only sauce, cold
water their only beverage. Looking at this assemblage through the medium
of the imagination, the mind is led back to the chivalric period of
former days, when chiefs and vassals took counsel together....

"With the earliest dawn of spring the hunters are in motion like bees,
and the colony in a state of confusion, from their going to and fro,
in order to raise the wind and prepare themselves for the fascinating
enjoyments of hunting. It is now that the Company, the farmers, the
petty traders are all beset by their incessant and irresistible
importunities. The plain mania brings everything else to a stand. One
wants a horse, another an axe, a third a cart; they want ammunition,
they want clothing, they want provisions; and though people refuse
one or two they cannot deny a whole population, for, indeed, over-much
obstinacy would not be unattended with risk. Thus the settlers are
reluctantly dragged into profligate speculation.

"The plain hunters, finding they can get whatever they want without
ready money, are led into ruinous extravagances; but the evil of the
long credit system does not end here.... So many temptations, so many
attractions are held out to the thoughtless and giddy, so fascinating is
the sweet air of freedom, that even the offspring of the Europeans, as
well as natives, are often induced to cast off their habits of industry
and leave their comfortable homes to try their fortunes in the plains.

"The practical result of all this may be stated in a few words. After
the expedition starts there is not a man-servant or maid-servant to
be found in the colony. At any season but seed-time and harvest-time,
the settlement is literally swarming with idlers; but at these urgent
periods money cannot procure them.

"The actual money value expended on one trip, estimating also their lost
time, is as follows:--

  1210 carts (in 1840)                                       £1815
   620 hunters (two months) at 1_s._ a day                    1860
   650 women (two months) at 9_d._                            1460
   360 boys and girls (two months) at 4_d._                    360
   403 buffalo runners (horses) at 15_l._                     6045
   655 cart horses at 8_l._                                   5240
   586 draught oxen at 6_l._                                  3516
  Guns, gunpowder, knives, axes, harness, camp equipage,
      and utensils (estimate approaching)                     3700
                                                       Say £24,000

"From Fort Garry, June 15th, 1840, the cavalcade and followers went
crowding on to the public road, and thence, stretching from point to
point, till the third day in the evening, when they reached Pembina
(sixty miles south of Fort Garry), the great rendezvous on such
occasions. When the hunters leave the settlement it enjoys that relief
which a person feels on recovering from a long and painful sickness.
Here, on a level plain, the whole patriarchal camp squatted down like
pilgrims on a journey to the Holy Land in ancient days, only not
quite so devout, for neither scrip nor staff were consecrated for
the occasion. Here the roll was called and general muster taken, when
they numbered on this occasion 1,630 souls; and here the rules and
regulations for the journey were finally settled. The officials for the
trip were named and installed into office, and all without the aid of
writing materials.

"The camp occupied as much ground as a modern city, and was formed in
a circle. All the carts were placed side by side, the trams outward.
Within this line of circumvallation, the tents were placed in double,
treble rows, at one end, the animals at the other, in front of the
tents. This is the order in all dangerous places, but where no danger is
apprehended, the animals are kept on the outside. Thus the carts formed
a strong barrier, not only for securing the people and their animals
within, but as a place of shelter and defence against an attack of the
enemy from without.

  In 1820 the number of carts assembled for the first trip was     540
  "  1825  "    "    "    "      "       "   "    "    "    "      680
  "  1830  "    "    "    "      "       "   "    "    "    "      820
  "  1835  "    "    "    "      "       "   "    "    "    "      970
  "  1840  "    "    "    "      "       "   "    "    "    "     1210

"There is another appendage belonging to the expedition, and these are
not always the least noisy, viz. the dogs or camp followers. On the
present occasion they numbered no fewer than 542. In deep snow, where
horses cannot conveniently be used, dogs are very serviceable animals to
the hunters in these parts. The half-breed, dressed in his wolf costume,
tackles two or three sturdy curs into a flat sled, throws himself on it
at full length, and gets among the buffalo unperceived. Here the bow
and arrow play their part to prevent noise. And here the skilful hunter
kills as many as he pleases, and returns to camp without disturbing the

"But now to the camp again--the largest of the kind, perhaps, in the
world. The first step was to hold a council for the nomination of chiefs
or officers for conducting the expedition. Ten captains were named,
the senior on this occasion being Jean Baptiste Wilkie, an English
half-breed, brought up among the French, a man of good sound sense and
long experience, and withal a fine, bold-looking, and discreet fellow, a
second Nimrod in his way.

"Besides being captain, in common with the others, he was styled the
great war chief or head of the camp, and on all public occasions he
occupied the place of president. All articles of property found without
an owner were carried to him and he disposed of them by a crier, who
went round the camp every evening, were it only an awl. Each captain had
ten soldiers under his orders, in much the same way as policemen are
subject to the magistrate. Ten guides were likewise appointed, and here
we may remark that people in a rude state of society, unable either to
read or write, are generally partial to the number ten. Their duties
were to guide the camp each in his turn--that is day about--during
the expedition. The camp flag belongs to the guide of the day; he is
therefore standard bearer in virtue of his office.

"The hoisting of the flag every morning is the signal for raising camp.
Half an hour is the full time allowed to prepare for the march; but if
anyone is sick or their animals have strayed, notice is sent to the
guide, who halts till all is made right. From the time the flag is
hoisted, however, till the hour of camping arrives it is never taken
down. The flag taken down is a signal for encamping. While it is up the
guide is chief of the expedition. Captains are subject to him, and the
soldiers of the day are his messengers; he commands all. The moment the
flag is lowered his functions cease, and the captains' and soldiers'
duties commence. They point out the order of the camp, and every cart as
it arrives moves to its appointed place. This business usually occupies
about the same time as raising camp in the morning; for everything moves
with the regularity of clockwork.

"All being ready to leave Pembina, the captains and other chief men
hold another council and lay down the rules to be observed during the
expedition. Those made on the present occasion were:--

(1) No buffalo to be run on the Sabbath day.

(2) No party to fork off, lag behind, or go before, without permission.

(3) No person or party to run buffalo before the general order.

(4) Every captain with his men in turn to patrol the camp and keep

(5) For the first trespass against these laws, the offender to have his
saddle and bridle cut up.

(6) For the second offence the coat to be taken off the offender's back
and to be cut up.

(7) For the third offence the offender to be flogged.

(8) Any person convicted of theft, even to the value of a sinew, to be
brought to the middle of the camp, and the crier to call out his or her
name three times, adding the word 'Thief' at each time.

"On the 21st the start was made, and the picturesque line of march soon
stretched to the length of some five or six miles in the direction of
south-west towards Côte à Pique. At 2 p.m. the flag was struck, as a
signal for resting the animals. After a short interval it was hoisted
again, and in a few minutes the whole line was in motion, and continued
the route till five or six o'clock in the evening, when the flag was
hauled down as a signal to encamp for the night. Distance travelled,
twenty miles.

"The camp being formed, all the leading men, officials, and others
assembled, as the general custom is, on some rising ground or eminence
outside the ring, and there squatted themselves down, tailor-like, on
the grass in a sort of council, each having his gun, his smoking bag in
his hand, and his pipe in his mouth. In this situation the occurrences
of the day were discussed, and the line of march for the morrow agreed
upon. This little meeting was full of interest, and the fact struck me
very forcibly that there is happiness and pleasure in the society of the
most illiterate men, sympathetically if not intellectually inclined,
as well as among the learned, and I must say I found less selfishness
and more liberality among those ordinary men than I had been accustomed
to find in higher circles. Their conversation was free, practical,
and interesting, and the time passed on more agreeably than could be
expected among such people, till we touched on politics.

"Of late years the field of chase has been far from Pembina, and
the hunters do not so much as know in what direction they may find
the buffalo, as these animals frequently shift their ground. It is
a mere leap in the dark, whether at the outset the expedition takes
the right or the wrong road; and their luck in the chase, of course,
depends materially on the choice they make. The year of our narrative
they travelled a south-west or middle course, being the one generally
preferred, since it leads past most of the rivers near their sources,
where they are easily crossed. The only inconvenience attending this
choice is the scarcity of wood, which in a warm season is but a
secondary consideration.

"Not to dwell on the ordinary routine of each day's journey, it was the
ninth day from Pembina before we reached the Cheyenne River, distant
only about 150 miles, and as yet we had not seen a single band of
buffalo. On July 3rd, our nineteenth day from the settlement, and at a
distance of little more than 250 miles, we came in sight of our destined
hunting grounds, and on the day following we had our first buffalo
race. Our array in the field must have been a grand and imposing one to
those who had never seen the like before. No less than 400 huntsmen,
all mounted, and anxiously waiting for the word 'Start!' took up their
position in a line at one end of the camp, while Captain Wilkie, with
his spyglass at his eye, surveyed the buffalo, examined the ground, and
issued his orders. At eight o'clock the whole cavalcade broke ground,
and made for the buffalo; first at a slow trot, then at a gallop, and
lastly at full speed. Their advance was over a dead level, the plain
having no hollow or shelter of any kind to conceal their approach. We
need not answer any queries as to the feeling and anxiety of the camp on
such an occasion. When the horsemen started the cattle might have been
a mile and a half ahead, but they had approached to within four or five
hundred yards before the bulls curved their tails or pawed the ground.
In a moment more the herd took flight, and horse and rider are presently
seen bursting in among them. Shots are heard, and all is smoke, dash,
and hurry. The fattest are first singled out for slaughter, and in less
time than we have occupied with the description, a thousand carcases
strew the plain.

"The moment the animals take to flight the best runners dart forward in
advance. At this moment a good horse is invaluable to his owner, for
out of the 400 on this occasion, not above fifty got the first chance
of the fat cows. A good horse and an experienced rider will select
and kill from ten to twelve animals at one heat, while inferior horses
are contented with two or three. But much depends on the nature of the
ground. On this occasion the surface was rocky, and full of badger
holes. Twenty-three horses and riders were at one moment sprawling on
the ground. One horse, gored by a bull, was killed on the spot, two men
disabled by the fall. One rider broke his shoulder blade; another burst
his gun and lost three of his fingers by the accident; and a third was
struck on the knee by an exhausted ball. These accidents will not be
thought over-numerous considering the result; for in the evening no less
than 1,375 buffalo tongues were brought into camp.

"The rider of a good horse seldom fires till within three or four yards
of his object, and never misses. And, what is admirable in point of
training, the moment the shot is fired his steed springs on one side
to avoid stumbling over the animal, whereas an awkward and shy horse
will not approach within ten or fifteen yards, consequently the rider
has often to fire at random and not infrequently misses. Many of them,
however, will fire at double that distance and make sure of every shot.
The mouth is always full of balls; they load and fire at the gallop, and
but seldom drop a mark, although some do to designate the animal.

"Of all the operations which mark the hunter's life and are essential to
his ultimate success, the most perplexing, perhaps, is that of finding
out and identifying the animals he kills during a race. Imagine 400
horsemen entering at full speed a herd of some thousands of buffalo,
all in rapid motion. Riders in clouds of dust and volumes of smoke
which darken the air, crossing and recrossing each other in every
direction; shots on the right, on the left, behind, before, here,
there, two, three, a dozen at a time, everywhere in close succession,
at the same moment. Horses stumbling, riders falling, dead and wounded
animals tumbling here and there, one over the other; and this zigzag
and bewildering _mêlée_ continued for an hour or more together in wild
confusion. And yet, from practice, so keen is the eye, so correct the
judgment, that after getting to the end of the race, he can not only
tell the number of animals which he had shot down, but the position in
which each lies--on the right or on the left side--the spot where the
shot hit, and the direction of the ball; and also retrace his way, step
by step, through the whole race and recognize every animal he had the
fortune to kill, without the least hesitation or difficulty. To divine
how this is accomplished bewilders the imagination.

"The main party arrived on the return journey at Pembina on August 17th,
after a journey of two months and two days. In due time the settlement
was reached, and the trip being a successful one, the returns on this
occasion may be taken as a fair annual average. An approximation to the
truth is all we can arrive at, however. Our estimate is nine hundred
pounds weight of buffalo meat per cart, a thousand being considered
the full load, which gives one million and eighty-nine thousand pounds
in all, or something more than two hundred pounds weight for each
individual, old and young, in the settlement. As soon as the expedition
arrived, the Hudson's Bay Company, according to usual custom, issued a
notice that it would take a certain specified quantity of provisions,
not from each fellow that had been on the plains, but from each old and
recognized hunter. The established price at this period for the three
kinds over head, fat, pemmican, and dried meat, was two pence a pound.
This was then the Company's standard price; but there is generally a
market for all the fat they bring. During the years 1839, 1840, and
1841, the Company expended five thousand pounds on the purchase of
plain provisions, of which the hunters got last year the sum of twelve
hundred pounds, being rather more money than all the agricultural class
obtained for their produce in the same year. It will be remembered that
the Company's demand affords the only regular market or outlet in the
Colony, and, as a matter of course, it is the first supplied."




     The bleak shores unprogressive--Now as at the beginning--York
     Factory--Description of Ballantyne--The weather--Summer comes with
     a rush--Picking up subsistence--The Indian trade--Inhospitable
     Labrador--Establishment of Ungava Bay--McLean at Fort
     Chimo--Herds of cariboo--Eskimo crafts--"Shadowy Tartarus"--The
     king's domains--Mingan--Mackenzie--The Gulf settlements--The
     Moravians--Their four missions--Rigolette, the chief trading
     post--A school for developing character--Chief Factor Donald A.
     Smith--Journeys along the coast--A barren shore.

Life on the shores of Hudson Bay is as unchangeable as the shores and
scenery of the coast are monotonous. The swampy, treeless flats that
surround the Bay simply change from the frozen, snow-clad expanse which
stretches as far as the eye can see in winter, to the summer green of
the unending grey willows and stunted shrubs that cover the swampy
shores. For a few open months the green prevails, and then nature for
eight months assumes her winding sheet of icy snow.

For two hundred and fifty years life has been as unvarying on these
wastes as travellers tell us are the manners and customs of living
of the Bedouins on their rocky Araby. No log shanties give way in
a generation to the settler's house, and then to the comfortable,
well-built stone or brick dwelling, which the fertile parts of America
so readily permit. The accounts of McLean, Rae, Ryerson, and Ballantyne
of the middle of the nineteenth century are precisely those of Robson,
Ellis, or Hearne of the eighteenth century, or indeed practically those
of the early years of the Company in the seventeenth century.

The ships sail from Gravesend on the Thames with the same ceremonies,
with the visit and dinner of the committee of the directors, the "great
guns," as the sailors call them, as they have done for two centuries and
a quarter, from the days of Zachariah Gillam and Pierre Esprit Radisson.
No more settlement is now seen on Hudson Bay than in the early time,
unless it be in the dwellings of the Christianized and civilized swampy
Crees and in the mission houses around which the Indians have gathered.

York Factory, up to the middle of the nineteenth century, retained
its supremacy. However, at times, Fort Churchill, with its well-built
walls and formidable bastions, may have disputed this primacy, yet York
Factory was the depôt for the interior almost uninterruptedly. To it
came the goods for the northern department, by way in a single season of
the vessel the _Prince Rupert_, the successor of a long line of _Prince
Ruperts_, from the first one of 1680, or of its companions, the _Prince
Albert_ or the _Prince of Wales_. By these, the furs from the Far North
found their way, as at the first, to the Company's house in London.

York Factory is a large square of some six acres, lying along Hayes
River, and shut in by high stockades. The houses are all wooden, and
on account of the swampy soil are raised up to escape the water of
the spring-time floods. At a point of advantage, a lofty platform was
erected to serve as a "look-out" to watch for the coming ship, the great
annual event of the slow-passing lives of the occupants of the post.
The flag-staff, on which, as is the custom at all Hudson's Bay Company
posts, the ensign with the magic letters H. B. C. floats, speaks at once
of many an old tradition and of great achievements.

Ballantyne in his lively style speaks of his two years at the post, and
describes the life of a young Hudson's Bay Company officer. The chief
factor, to the eye of the young clerk, represents success achieved and
is the embodiment of authority, which, on account of the isolation of
the posts and the absence of all law, is absolute and unquestioned. York
Factory, being a depôt, has a considerable staff, chiefly young men,
who live in the bachelors' hall. Here dwell the surgeon, accountant,
postmaster, half a dozen clerks, and others.

In winter, Ballantyne says, days, if not weeks, passed without the
arrival of a visitor, unless it were a post from the interior, or some
Cree trader of the neighbourhood, or some hungry Indian seeking food.
The cold was the chief feature of remark and consideration. At times the
spirit thermometer indicated 65 deg. below zero, and the uselessness of
the mercury thermometer was then shown by a pot of quicksilver being
made into bullets and remaining solid. Every precaution was taken to
erect strong buildings, which had double windows and double doors, and
yet in the very severe weather, water contained in a vessel has been
known to freeze in a room where a stove red hot was doing its best. It
is worthy of notice, however, that even in Arctic regions, a week or ten
days is as long as such severe weather continues, and mild intervals
come regularly.

On the Bay the coming of spring is looked for with great expectation,
and when it does come, about the middle of May, it sets in with a
"rush;" the sap rises in the shrubs and bushes, the buds burst out,
the rivers are freed from ice, and indeed, so rapid and complete is
the change, that it may be said there are only two seasons--summer and
winter--in these latitudes.

As summer progresses the fare of dried geese, thousands of which are
stored away for winter use, of dried fish and the white ptarmigan and
wood partridge that linger about the bushes and are shot for food, is
superseded by the arrival of myriads of ducks and geese and the use of
the fresh fish of the Bay. In many of the posts the food throughout the
whole year is entirely flesh diet, and not a pound of farinaceous food
is obtainable. This leads to an enormous consumption of the meat diet
in order to supply a sufficient amount of nourishment. An employé will
sometimes eat two whole geese at a meal.

In Dr. Rae's celebrated expedition from Fort Churchill, north along
the shore of Hudson Bay, on his search for Sir John Franklin, the
amount of supplies taken was entirely inadequate for his party for the
long period of twenty-seven months, being indeed only enough for four
months' full rations. In Rae's instructions from Sir George Simpson it
is said, "For the remaining part of your men you cannot fail to find
subsistence, animated as you are and they are by a determination to
fulfil your mission at the cost of danger, fatigue, and privation.
Whenever the natives can live, I can have no fears with respect to you,
more particularly as you will have the advantage of the Eskimos, not
merely in your actual supplies, but also in the means of recruiting and
renewing them."

The old forts still remained in addition to the two depôt posts, York
and Moose Factory, there being Churchill, Severn, Rupert's House,
Fort George, and Albany--and the life in them all of the stereotyped
description which we have pictured. Besides the preparation in summer
of supplies for the long winter, the only variety was the arrival of
Indians with furs from the interior. The trade is carried on by means
of well-known standards called the "castor" or "beaver." The Indian
hands his furs over to the trader, who sorts them into different lots.
The value is counted up at so many--say fifty--castors. The Indian then
receives fifty small bits of wood, and with these proceeds to buy guns,
knives, blankets, cloth, beads, or trinkets, never stopping till his
castors are all exhausted. The castor rarely exceeds two shillings in

While resembling in its general features the life on the Bay, the
conduct of the fur trader on the shore of Labrador and throughout the
Labrador Peninsula is much more trying and laborious than around the
Bay. The inhospitable climate, the heavy snows, the rocky, dangerous
shore, and the scarcity in some parts of animal life, long prevented the
fur companies from venturing upon this forbidding coast.

The northern part of Labrador is inhabited by Eskimos; further south are
tribes of swampy Crees. Between the Eskimos and Indians deadly feuds
long prevailed. The most cruel and bloody raids were made upon the timid
Eskimos, as was done on the Coppermine when Hearne went on his famous

McLean states that it was through the publication of a pamphlet by the
Moravian missionaries of Labrador, which declared that "the country
produced excellent furs," that the Hudson's Bay Company was led to
establish trading posts in Northern Labrador. The stirring story of
"Ungava," written by Ballantyne, gives what is no doubt in the main a
correct account of the establishment of the far northern post called
"Fort Chimo," on Ungava Bay.

The expedition left Moose Factory in 1831, and after escaping the
dangers of floating ice, fierce storms, and an unknown coast, erected
the fort several miles up the river running into Ungava Bay. The story
recalls the finding out, no doubt somewhat after the manner of the
famous boys' book, "The Swiss Family Robinson," the trout and salmon of
the waters, the walrus of the sea, and the deer of the mountain valleys,
but the picture is not probably overdrawn. The building of Fort Chimo
is plainly described by one who was familiar with the exploration and
life of the fur country; the picture of the tremendous snowstorm and its
overwhelming drifts is not an unlikely one for this coast, which, since
the day of Cortereal, has been the terror of navigators.

McLean, a somewhat fretful and biassed writer, though certainly not
lacking in a clear and lively style, gives an account of his being
sent, in 1837, to take charge of the district of North Labrador for the
Company. On leaving York Factory in August the brig encountered much
ice, although it escaped the mishaps which overtook almost all small
vessels on the Bay. The steep cliffs of the island of Akpatok, which
stands before Ungava Bay, were very nearly run upon in the dark, and
much difficulty was experienced in ascending the Ungava, or South River,
to Fort Chimo.

The trader's orders from Governor Simpson were to push outposts into
the interior of Labrador, to support his men on the resources of the
country, and to open communication with Esquimaux Bay, on the Labrador
coast, and thus, by means of the rivers, to establish an inland route
of inter-communication between the two inlets. McLean made a most
determined attempt to establish the desired route, but after innumerable
hardships to himself and his company, retired, after nearly four months'
efforts, to Fort Chimo, and sent a message to his superior officer that
the proposed line of communication was impracticable.

McLean gives an account of the arrival of a herd of three hundred
reindeer or cariboo, and of the whole of them being captured in a
"pound," as is done in the case of the buffalo. The trader was also
visited by Eskimos from the north side of Hudson Strait, who had
crossed the rough and dangerous passage on "a raft formed of pieces
of driftwood picked up along the shore." The object of their visit
was to obtain wood for making canoes. The trader states that the fact
of these people having crossed "Hudson's Strait on so rude and frail
a conveyance" strongly corroborates the opinion that America was
originally peopled from Asia by way of Behring's Strait.

It became more and more evident, however, that the Ungava trade could
not be profitably continued. Great expense was incurred in supplying
Ungava Bay by sea; the country was poor and barren, and the pertinacity
of the Eskimos in adhering to their sealskin dresses made the trade in
fabrics, which was profitable among the Indians, an impossibility at
Ungava. McLean continued his explorations and was somewhat successful in
opening the sought-for route by way of the Grand River, and, returning
to Fort Chimo, wintered there. Having been promoted by Sir George
Simpson, McLean obtained leave to visit Britain, and before going
received word from the directors of the Company that his recommendation
to abandon Ungava Bay had been accepted, and that the ship would call at
that point and remove the people and property to Esquimaux Bay. McLean,
in speaking of the weather of Hudson Straits during the month of January
(1842), gives expression to his strong dislike by saying, "At this
period I have neither seen, read, nor heard of any locality under heaven
that can offer a more cheerless abode to civilized man than Ungava."

Referring also to the fog that so abounds at this point as well as at
the posts around Hudson Bay, the discontented trader says: "If Pluto
should leave his own gloomy mansion _in tenebris Tartari_, he might take
up his abode here, and gain or lose but little by the exchange."

But the enterprising fur-traders were not to be deterred by the
iron-bound coast, or foggy shores, or dangerous life of any part of the
peninsula of Labrador. Early in the century, while the Hudson's Bay
Company were penetrating southward from the eastern shore of Hudson
Bay, which had by a kind of anomaly been called the "East Main," the
North-West Company were occupying the north shore of the St. Lawrence
and met their rivals at the head waters of the Saguenay.

The district of which Tadoussac was the centre had from the earliest
coming of the French been noted for its furs. That district all the way
down to the west end of the island of Anticosti was known as the "King's
Domains." The last parish was called Murray Bay, from General Murray,
the first British governor of Quebec, who had disposed of the district,
which furnished beef and butter for the King, to two of his officers,
Captains Nairn and Fraser.

The North-West Company, in the first decade of the nineteenth century,
had leased this district, which along with the Seigniory of Mingan that
lay still further down the Gulf of St. Lawrence, was long known as the
"King's Posts." Beyond the Seigniory of Mingan, a writer of the period
mentioned states that the Labrador coast had been left unappropriated,
and was a common to which all nations at peace with England might
resort, unmolested, for furs, oil, cod-fish, and salmon.

A well-known trader, James McKenzie, after returning from the Athabasca
region, made, in 1808, a canoe journey through the domains of the
King, and left a journal, with his description of the rocky country
and its inhabitants. He pictures strongly the one-eyed chief of Mingan
and Father Labrosse, the Nestor for twenty-five years of the King's
posts, who was priest, doctor, and poet for the region. McKenzie's
voyage chiefly inclined him to speculate as to the origin and religion
of the natives, while his description of the inland Indians and their
social life is interesting. His account of the manners and customs of
the Montagners or Shore Indians was more detailed than that of the
Nascapees, or Indians of the interior, and he supplies us with an
extensive vocabulary of their language.

McKenzie gives a good description of the Saguenay River, of Chicoutimi,
and Lake St. John, and of the ruins of a Jesuit establishment which had
flourished during the French régime. Whilst the bell and many implements
had been dug up from the scene of desolation, the plum and apple trees
of their garden were found bearing fruit. From the poor neglected fort
of Assuapmousoin McKenzie returned, since the fort of Mistassini could
only be reached by a further journey of ninety leagues. This North-West
post was built at the end of Lake Mistassini, while the Hudson's Bay
Company Fort, called Birch Point, was erected four days' journey
further on toward East Main House.

Leaving the Saguenay, McKenzie followed the coast of the St. Lawrence,
passing by Portneuf, with its beautiful chapel, "good enough for His
Holiness the Pope to occupy," after which--the best of the King's posts
for furs--Ile Jérémie was reached, with its buildings and chapels on a
high eminence. Irregularly built Godbout was soon in view, and the Seven
Islands Fort was then come upon. Mingan was the post of which McKenzie
was most enamoured. Its fine harbour and pretty chapel drew his special
attention. The "Man River" was famous for its fisheries, while Masquaro,
the next port, was celebrated for the supply of beavers and martins in
its vicinity. The salmon entering the river in the district are stated
to be worthy of note, and the traveller and his company returned to
Quebec, the return voyage being two hundred leagues.

Since the time of McKenzie the fur trade has been pushed along the
formerly unoccupied coast of Labrador. Even before that time the far
northern coast had been taken up by a brave band of Moravians, who
supported themselves by trade, and at the same time did Christian work
among the Eskimos. Their movement merits notice. As early as 1749 a
brave Hollander pilot named Erhardt, stimulated by reading the famous
book of Henry Ellis on the North-West Passage, made an effort to form a
settlement on the Labrador coast. He lost his life among the deceitful

Years afterward, Count Zinzendorf made application to the Hudson's Bay
Company to be allowed to send Moravian missionaries to the different
Hudson's Bay Company posts. The union of trader and missionary in the
Moravian cult made the Company unwilling to grant this request. After
various preparations the Moravians took up unoccupied ground on the
Labrador coast, in 56 deg. 36´ N., where they found plenty of wood,
runlets of sparkling water and a good anchorage. They erected a stone
marked G.R. III., 1770, for the King, and another with the inscription
V.F. (Unitas fratrum), the name of their sect.

Their first settlement was called Nain, and it was soon followed by
another thirty miles up the coast known as "Okkak." Thirty miles south
of Nain they found remains of the unfortunate movement first made by the
Society, and here they established a mission, calling it "Hopedale."
When they had become accustomed to the coast, they showed still more
of the adventurous spirit and founded their most northerly post of
Hebron, well nigh up to the dreaded "Ungava Bay." A community of upwards
of eleven hundred Christian Eskimos has resulted from the fervour and
self-denial of these humble but faithful missionaries. Their courage and
determination stand well beside that of the daring fur traders.

The Hudson's Bay Company was not satisfied with Mingan as their farthest
outward point. In 1832 and 1834, Captain Bayfield, R.N., surveyed the
Labrador coast. In due time the Company pushed on to the inlet known
as Hamilton Inlet or Esquimaux Bay, on the north side of which the
fort grew up, known as Rigolette. Here a farm is maintained stocked
with "Cattle, sheep, pigs and hens," and the place is the depôt of the
Hudson's Bay Company and of the general trade of the coast. Farther
up two other sub-posts are found, viz., Aillik, and on the opposite
side of the Inlet Kaipokok. The St. Lawrence and Labrador posts of the
Hudson's Bay Company have been among the most difficult and trying of
those in any part where the Company carries on its vast operations from
Atlantic to Pacific. This Labrador region has been a noble school for
the development of the firmness, determination, skill, and faithfulness
characteristic of both the officers and men of the Hudson's Bay Company.

Most notable of the officers of the first rank who have conducted the
fur trade in Labrador is Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, the present
Governor of the Company. Coming out at eighteen, Donald Alexander Smith,
a well-educated Scottish lad, related to Peter and Cuthbert Grant, and
the brothers John and James Stuart, prominent officers, whose deeds in
the North-West Company are still remembered, the future Governor began
his career. Young Smith, on arriving at Montreal (1838), was despatched
to Moose Factory, and for more than thirty years was in the service,
in the region of Hudson Bay and Labrador. Rising to the rank of chief
trader, after fourteen years of laborious service he reached in ten
years more the acme of desire of every aspirant in the Company, the
rank of chief factor. His years on the coast of Labrador, at Rigolette,
and its subordinate stations were most laborious. The writer has had
the privilege from time to time of hearing his tales, of the long
journey along the frozen coast, of camping on frozen islands, without
shelter, of storm-staid journeys rivalling the recitals of Ballantyne
at Fort Chimo, of cold receptions by the Moravians, and of the doubtful
hospitalities of both Indians and Eskimos. Every statement of Cortereal,
Gilbert, or Cabot of the inhospitable shore is corroborated by this
successful officer, who has lived for thirty years since leaving
Labrador to fill a high place in the affairs both of Canada and the
Empire. One of his faithful subordinates on this barren coast was
Chief Factor P. W. Bell, who gained a good reputation for courage and
faithfulness, not only in Labrador, but on the barren shore of Lake
Superior. The latter returned to Labrador after his western experience,
and retired from the charge of the Labrador posts a few years ago. It
is to the credit of the Hudson's Bay Company that it has been able to
secure men of such calibre and standing to man even its most difficult
and unattractive stations.



     Peter Pond reaches Athabasca River--Fort Chipewyan
     established--Starting-point of Alexander McKenzie--The
     Athabasca library--The Hudson Bay Company roused--Conflict at
     Fort Wedderburn--Suffering--The dash up the Peace River--Fort
     Dunvegan--Northern extension--Fort Resolution--Fort Providence--The
     great river occupied--Loss of life--Fort Simpson, the centre--Fort
     Reliance--Herds of cariboo--Fort Norman built--Fort Good Hope--The
     Northern Rockies--The Yukon reached and occupied--The fierce
     Liard River--Fort Halkett in the mountains--Robert Campbell comes
     to the Stikine--Discovers the Upper Yukon--His great fame--The
     districts--Steamers on the water stretches.

     (The map on page 388 should be consulted while this chapter is
     being read.)

Less than twenty years after the conquest of Canada by the British, the
traders heard of the Lake Athabasca and Mackenzie River district. The
region rapidly rose into notice, until it reached the zenith as the fur
traders' paradise, a position it has held till the present time.

As we have seen, Samuel Hearne, the Hudson's Bay Company adventurer--the
Mungo Park of the North--first of white men, touched, on his way to the
Coppermine, Lake Athapuscow, now thought to have been Great Slave Lake.

It was the good fortune, however, of the North-West Company to take
possession of this region first for trade.


The daring Montreal traders, who had seized upon the Saskatchewan and
pushed on to Lake Ile à la Crosse, having a surplus of merchandise in
the year 1778, despatched one of their agents to Lake Athabasca, and
"took seisin" of the country. As already stated, the man selected was
the daring and afterwards violent trader Peter Pond. On the River
Athabasca, some thirty miles south of the Lake, Pond built the first
Indian trading post of the region, which, however, after a few years was
abandoned and never afterwards rebuilt.


Less than ten years after this pioneer led the way, a fort was built
on the south side of Lake Athabasca, at a point a few miles east of
the entrance of the river. To this, borrowing the name of the Indian
nation of the district, was given the name Fort Chipewyan. This old
fort became celebrated as the starting-place of the great expedition of
Alexander Mackenzie, when he discovered the river that bears his name
and the Polar Sea into which it empties. At this historic fort also,
Roderick McKenzie, cousin of the explorer, founded the famous "Athabasca
Library," for the use of the officers of the Company in the northern
posts, and in its treasures Lieutenant Lefroy informs us he revelled
during his winter stay.

At the beginning of the century the X Y Company aggressively invaded the
Athabasca region, and built a fort a mile north of Fort Chipewyan, near
the site of the present Roman Catholic Mission of the Nativity.

As the conflict between the North-West and Hudson's Bay Companies
waxed warm, the former Company, no doubt for the purpose of being more
favourably situated for carrying on the trade with the Mackenzie River,
removed their fort on Lake Athabasca to the commanding promontory near
the exit of Slave River from the lake. Renewed and often enlarged, Fort
Chipewyan has until recently remained the greatest depôt of the north


The fierceness of the struggle for the fur trade may be seen in the
fact that the Hudson's Bay Company (1815) with vigour took up a site
on an island in front of Fort Chipewyan and built Fort Wedderburn, at
no greater distance than a single mile, and though it was not their
first appearance on the lake, yet they threw themselves in considerable
force into the contest, numbering, under John Clark, afterward Chief
Factor, ten clerks, a hundred men, and fourteen large canoes loaded
with supplies. Many misfortunes befell the new venture of the Company.
A writer of the time says, "No less than fifteen men, one woman, and
several children perished by starvation. They built four trade posts on
the Peace River (lower) and elsewhere in the autumn; but not one of them
was able to weather out the following winter. All were obliged to come
to terms with their opponents to save the party from utter destruction.
That year the Athabasca trade of the North-West Company was four hundred
packs against only five in all secured by the Hudson's Bay Company."

Three years afterward the old Company, with British pluck, again
appeared on this lake, having nineteen loaded canoes. Trader Clark was
now accompanied by the doughty leader, Colin Robertson, whose prowess we
have already seen in the Red River conflict.

It will be remembered that in the year before the union of the
Companies, George Simpson, the young clerk, arrived on Lake Athabasca
with fifteen loaded canoes. He was chiefly found at Fort Wedderburn
and a short distance up the Peace River. It is not certain that the
prospective Governor ever visited Slave Lake to the north. He gives,
however, the following vivid summary of his winter's experience in
Athabasca: "At some seasons both whites and Indians live in wasteful
abundance on venison, buffalo meat, fish, and game of all kinds, while
at other times they are reduced to the last degree of hunger, often
passing several days without food. In the year 1820 our provisions fell
short at the establishment, and on two or three occasions I went for
two or three whole days and nights without having a single morsel to
swallow, but then again, I was one of a party of eleven men and one
woman which discussed at one sitting meal no less than three ducks and
twenty-two geese!" This winter's knowledge was of great value to the man
afterwards called to be the arbiter of destiny of many a hard-pressed

Other forts are mentioned as having been established by both Companies
at different points on the Athabasca River, but their period of duration
was short. In some cases these abandoned forts have been followed by
new forts, in recent times, on the same sites.


Soon after the arrival of the first traders in the Athabasca district,
the fame of the Peace River--the Indian "Unjijah," a mighty stream,
whose waters empty into the river flowing from Lake Athabasca--rose
among the adventurers. An enterprising French Canadian trader,
named Boyer, pushed up the stream and near a small tributary--Red
River--established the first post of this great artery, which flows from
the West, through the Rocky Mountains. Long abandoned, this post has in
late years been re-established.

The Peace River has ever had a strange fascination for trader and
tourist, and a few years after Boyer's establishment became known,
a trading house was built above the "Chutes" of the river. This was
afterwards moved some distance up stream and became the well-known Fort
Vermilion. This fort has remained till the present day.

Farther still up the Peace River, where the Smoky River makes its
forks, a fort was erected whose stores and dwelling-houses were on a
larger scale than those of the mother establishment of Fort Chipewyan,
having had stockaded walls, a good powder magazine, and a good well
of water. This fort for a time was known as McLeod's Fort, but in the
course of events its site was abandoned. Fort Dunvegan, famous to later
travellers, was first built on the south side of the river, and was the
headquarters of the Beaver Indians, from whom the North-West Company
received a formal gift of the site. The present fort is on the opposite
side of the Peace River.

It will be remembered, however, that it was from the post at the mouth
of Smoky River that Alexander Mackenzie, having wintered, started on his
great journey to the Pacific. In later years the Hudson's Bay Company
has maintained a fort at this point as an outpost of Dunvegan.

Early in the century we find allusions to the fact that the catch of
beaver was, from over-hunting, declining in the Peace River country, and
that, in consequence, the North-West Company had been compelled to give
up several of their forts. Around Fort St. John's a tragic interest
gathers. John McLean, in his "Notes of a Twenty-five Years' Service,"
speaks of reaching on his journey--1833--the "tenantless fort," where
some years before a massacre had taken place. It had been determined by
the Hudson's Bay Company to remove the fort to Rocky Mountain Portage.
The tribe of Tsekanies, to whom the fort was tributary, took this as an
insult. At the time of removal the officer in charge, Mr. Hughes, had
sent off a part of his men with effects of the fort intended for the new
post. Hughes was shot down on the riverside by the Indians. The party of
boatmen, on returning, "altogether unconscious of the fate that awaited
them, came paddling towards the landing-place, singing a voyageur's
song, and Just as the canoe touched the shore, a volley of bullets was
discharged at them, which silenced them for ever. They were all killed
on the spot." An expedition was organized by the traders to avenge
the foul murder, but more peaceful counsels prevailed. Most of the
fugitives paid the penalty of their guilt by being starved to death. The
deserted fort was some twenty miles below the present Fort St. John's.
The present fort was built in the latter half of the century, and its
outpost of Hudson's Hope, together with the trade station at Battle
River, below Dunvegan, was erected about a generation ago.


The extension of the fur trade to Great Slave Lake dates back to within
seven years after the advent of Peter Pond on the Athabasca River. The
famous trader, Cuthbert Grant, father of the "Warden of the Plains," who
figured in the Seven Oaks fight, led the way, and with him a Frenchman,
Laurent Leroux. Reaching this great lake, these ardent explorers built a
trading post on Slave River, near its mouth. A short time afterwards the
traders moved their first post to Moose Deer Island, a few miles from
the old site, and here the North-West Company remained until the time of
the union of the Companies. The impulse of union led to the construction
of a new establishment on the site chosen by the Hudson's Bay Company
for the erection of their post some six years before. The new post was
called Fort Resolution, and was on the mainland two miles or more from
the island. This post marked the extreme limit of the operations of the
Hudson's Bay Company up to the time of the union.

When Alexander Mackenzie determined to make his first great voyage, he
started from Fort Chipewyan and bravely pushing out into the unknown
wilds, left Great Slave Lake and explored the river that bears his name.
Here he promised the tribe of the Yellow Knife Indians to establish a
post among them in the next year. The promise was kept to the letter.
The new post, built at the mouth of the Yellow Knife River, was called
Fort Providence. It was afterwards removed to a large island in the
north arm of the lake, and to this the name Fort Rae, in honour of
the celebrated Arctic explorer, John Rae, was given. Near this new
station there has been for years a Roman Catholic Mission. It was from
the neighbourhood of these forts on the lake that Captain Franklin
set out to build his temporary station, Fort Enterprise, one hundred
miles from his base of supplies. Fort Rae has remained since the time
of its erection a place of some importance. It formed the centre of
the northern operations of Captain Dawson, R.A., on his expedition for
circumpolar observation in recent times.

After the Hudson's Bay Company had transferred Rupert's Land to Canada,
a new post was opened on the Slave River, midway between Athabasca
and Great Slave Lake. It was called Fort Smith, in honour of Chief
Commissioner Donald A. Smith, now Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal. Near
the site of Fort Smith are the dangerous Noyé Rapids of Slave River,
where Grant and Leroux, on their voyage to Great Slave Lake, lost a
canoe and five of its occupants. From Fort Smith southward to Smith
Landing a waggon or cart road has been in use up to the present time.
Now this is to be converted into a tramway.



Northward the course of the fur traders' empire has continually made
its way. Leaving Great Slave Lake four years before the close of the
eighteenth century, along the course of Alexander Mackenzie's earlier
exploration, Duncan Livingston, a North-West Company trader, built
the first fort on the river eighty miles north of the lake. Three
years later the trader, his three French-Canadian voyageurs and Indian
interpreter, were basely killed by the Eskimos on the Lower Mackenzie
River. A year or two afterward a party of fur traders, under John Clark,
started on an expedition of exploration and retaliation down the river,
but again the fury of the Eskimos was roused. In truth, had it not been
for a storm of fair wind which favoured them, the traders would not have
escaped with their lives.

Very early in the present century, Fort Simpson, the former and present
headquarters of the extensive Mackenzie River district, was built, and
very soon after its establishment the prominent trader, and afterwards
Chief Factor, George Keith, is found in charge of it. It is still the
great trading and Church of England Mission centre of the vast region
reaching to the Arctic Sea.

During the first half of the century, Big Island, at the point where
the Mackenzie River leaves Great Slave Lake, was, on account of its
good supply of white fish, the wintering station for the supernumerary
district servants of the Hudson's Bay Company. Though this point is
still visited for fishing in the autumn, yet in later years the trade of
this post has been transferred to another built near the Roman Catholic
Mission at Fort Providence, forty miles farther down the river. On Hay
River, near the point of departure of the Mackenzie River from the lake,
several forts have been built from time to time and abandoned, among
them a Fort George referred to by the old traders. The eastern end of
the lake, known as Fond du Lac, became celebrated, as we have already
seen, in connection with the Arctic explorers, Sir George Back and Dr.
Richard King, for here they built Fort Reliance and wintered, going in
the spring to explore the Great Fish River. In after years, on account
of the district being the resort for the herds of cariboo, Fort Reliance
was rebuilt, and was for a time kept up as an outpost of Fort Resolution
for collecting furs and "country provisions." It may be re-occupied soon
on account of the discoveries of gold and copper in the region.

Journeying down the Mackenzie River, we learn that there was a fur
traders' post of the Montreal merchants sixty miles north of Fort
Simpson. In all probability this was but one of several posts that
were from time to time occupied in that locality. At the beginning of
the century the North-West Company pushed on further north, and had a
trading post on the shore of Great Bear Lake, but almost immediately on
its erection they were met here by their rivals, the X Y Company. At
this point, reached by going up the Bear River from its junction with
the Mackenzie on the south-west arm of the lake, Chief Factor Peter
Dease built Fort Franklin for the use of the great Arctic explorer,
after whom he named the fort.


To explore new ground was a burning desire in the breasts of the
Nor'-Westers. Immediately in the year of their reunion with the X
Y Company, the united North-West Company established a post on the
Mackenzie River, sixty miles north of the mouth of Bear River. Indeed,
the mouth of Bear River on the Mackenzie seems to have suggested itself
as a suitable point for a post to be built, for in 1810 Fort Norman had
been first placed there. For some reason the post was moved thirty or
forty miles higher up the river, but a jam of ice having occurred in the
spring of 1851, the fort was mainly swept away by the high water, though
the occupants and all the goods were saved. In the same year the mouth
of the Bear River came into favour again, and Fort Norman was built
at that point. After this time the fort was moved once or twice, but
was finally placed in its present commanding position. It was in quite
recent times that, under Chief Factor Camsell's direction, a station
half-way between Fort Norman and Fort Simpson was fixed and the name of
Fort Wrigley given to it.


Not only did the impulse of union between the North-West and X Y
Companies reach Bear River, but in the same year, at a point on the
Mackenzie River beyond the high perpendicular cliffs known as "The
Ramparts," some two hundred miles further north than Fort Norman, was
Fort Good Hope erected. Here it remained for nearly a score of years
as the farthest north outpost of the fur trade, but after the union of
the North-West and Hudson's Bay Companies it was moved a hundred miles
southward on the river and erected on Manitoulin Island. After some
years (1836) an ice jam of a serious kind took place, and though the
inmates escaped in a York boat, yet the fort was completely destroyed by
the rushing waters of the angry Mackenzie. The fort was soon rebuilt,
but in its present beautiful situation on the eastern bank of the river,
opposite the old site on Manitoulin Island.

During Governor Simpson's time the extension of trade took place toward
the mouth of the Mackenzie River. A trader, John Bell, who not only
faced the hardships of the region within the Arctic Circle, but also
gained a good name in connection with Sir John Richardson's expedition
in search of Franklin, built the first post on Peel's River, which runs
into the delta of Mackenzie River. Bell, in 1846, descended the Rat
River, and first of British explorers set eyes on the Lower Yukon.

In the following year the Hudson's Bay Company established La Pierre's
House in the heart of the Rocky Mountains toward the Arctic Sea, and
Chief Trader Murray built and occupied the first Fort Yukon. This fort
the Hudson's Bay Company held for twenty-two years, until the territory
of Alaska passed into the hands of the people of the United States.
Rampart House was built by the Hudson's Bay Company within British
territory. Both Rampart House and La Pierre's House were abandoned a
few years ago as unprofitable. A similar fate befell Fort Anderson, two
degrees north of the Arctic Circle, built for the Eastern Eskimos on
the Anderson River, discovered in 1857 by Chief Factor R. MacFarlane,
a few years before the transfer of the territory of the Hudson's Bay
Company to Canada. No doubt the withdrawal from Fort Anderson was
hastened by the terribly fatal epidemic of scarlatina which prevailed
all over the Mackenzie River district in the autumn and early winter
of 1865. More than eleven hundred Indians and Eskimos, out of the four
thousand estimated population, perished. The loss of the hunters caused
by this disease, and the difficulties of overland transport, led to the
abandonment of this out-of-the-way post.


The conflict of the North-West and X Y Companies led to the most
extraordinary exploration that Rupert's Land and the Indian territories
have witnessed. At the time when the Mackenzie River, at the beginning
of the century, was being searched and occupied, a fort known as The
Forks was established at the junction of the Liard and Mackenzie Rivers.
This fort, called, after the union of the Hudson's Bay and North-West
Companies, Fort simpson, became the base of operations for the
exploration of the Liard River. We have followed the course of trade by
which the Mackenzie itself was placed under tribute; it may be well also
to look at the occupation of the Liard, the most rapid and terrible of
all the great eastern streams that dash down from the heart of the Rocky

The first post to be established on this stream was Fort Liard, not far
below the junction of the western with the east branch of the river.
There was an old fort between Fort Liard and Fort Simpson, but Fort
Liard, which is still occupied by the Hudson's Bay Company, began almost
with the century, and a few years afterwards was under the experienced
trader, George Keith. Probably, at an equally early date, Fort Nelson,
on the eastern branch of the river, was established. In the second
decade of the century, Alexander Henry, the officer in charge, and all
of his people were murdered by the Indians. The post was for many years
abandoned, but was rebuilt in 1865, and is still a trading post.

It was probably shortly after the union of the North-West and Hudson's
Bay Companies that Fort Halkett, far up the western branch of the river,
was erected. After forty or fifty years of occupation, Fort Halkett
was abandoned, but a small post called Toad River was built some time
afterward, half way between its site and that of Fort Liard. In 1834,
Chief Trader John M. McLeod, not the McLeod whose journal we have
quoted, pushed up past the dangerous rapids and boiling whirlpools, and
among rugged cliffs and precipices of the Rocky Mountains, discovered
Dease River and Dease Lake from which the river flows.

Robert Campbell, an intrepid Scottish officer of the Hudson's Bay
Company, in 1838, succeeded in doing what his predecessors had been
unable to accomplish, viz. to establish a trading-post on Dease Lake. In
the summer of the same year Campbell crossed to the Pacific Slope and
reached the head waters of the Stikine River.

In opening his new post Campbell awakened the hostility of the coast
Indians. He and his men became so reduced in supplies that they
subsisted for some time on the skin thongs of their moccasins and snow
shoes and on the parchment windows of their huts, boiled to supply the
one meal a day which kept them alive. In the end Campbell was compelled
to leave his station on the Dease Lake, and the fort was burnt by the


Under orders from Governor Simpson, Campbell, in 1840, undertook
the exploration that has made his name famous. This was to ascend
the northern branch of the wild and dangerous Liard River. For this
purpose he left the mountain post, Fort Halkett, and passing through
the great gorge arrived at Lake Frances, where he gave the promontory
which divides the lake the name "Simpson's Tower." Leaving the Lake
and ascending one of its tributaries, called by him Finlayson's River,
he reached the interesting reservoir of Finlayson's Lake, of which, at
high water, one part of the sheet runs west to the Pacific Ocean and
the other to the Arctic Sea. With seven trusty companions he crossed
the height of land and saw the high cliffs of the splendid river,
which he called "Pelly Banks," in honour of the then London Governor
of the Company. The Company would have called it Campbell's River, but
the explorer refused the honour. Going down the stream a few miles on
a raft, Campbell then turned back, and reached Fort Halkett after an
absence of four months.

Highly complimented by Governor Simpson, Campbell, under orders, in the
next year built a fort at Lake Frances, and in a short time another
establishment at Pelly Banks. Descending the river, the explorer met at
the junction of the Lewis and Pelly Banks a band of Indians, who would
not allow him to proceed further, and indeed plotted to destroy him
and his men. Eight years after his discovery of Pelly Banks, Campbell
started on his great expedition, which was crowned with success.
Reaching again the junction of the Pelly and Lewis Rivers, he erected
a post, naming it Fort Selkirk, although it was long locally known
as Campbell's Fort. Two years after the building of Fort Selkirk,
Campbell, journeying in all from the height of land for twelve hundred
miles, reached Fort Yukon, where, as we have seen, Trader Murray was in
charge. Making a circuit around by the Porcupine River and ascending
the Mackenzie River, Campbell surprised his friends at Fort Simpson by
coming up the river to Fort Simpson.

In 1852, a thievish band of coast Indians called the Chilkats plundered
Fort Selkirk and shortly afterward destroyed it. Its ruins remain to
this day, and the site is now taken up by the Canadian Government as a
station on the way to the Yukon gold-fields.

Campbell went home to London, mapped out with the aid of Arrowsmith the
country he had found, and gave names to its rivers and other features.
A few years ago an officer of the United States army, Lieutenant
Schwatka, sought to rob Campbell of his fame, and attempted to rename
the important points of the region. Campbell's merit and modesty entitle
him to the highest recognition.

The trading posts of the great region we are describing have been
variously grouped into districts. Previous to the union of the
North-West and Hudson's Bay Companies, from Athabasca north and west
was known as the "Athabasca-Mackenzie Department," their returns all
being kept in one account. This northern department was long under the
superintendency of Chief Factor Edward Smith.

A new district was, some time after the transfer of the Indian
territories to Canada, formed and named "Peace River." The management
has changed from time to time, Fort Dunvegan, for example, for a
period the headquarters of the Peace River district, having lost its
pre-eminence and been transferred to be under the chief officer on
Lesser Slave Lake.

The vast inland water stretches of which we have spoken have been the
chief means of communication throughout the whole country. Without these
there could have been little fur trade. The distances are bewildering.
The writer remembers seeing Bishop Bompas, who had left the far distant
Fort Yukon to go to England, and who by canoe, York boat, dog train,
snow shoe, and waggon, had been nine months on the journey before he
reached Winnipeg.

The first northern inland steamer in these remote retreats was the
_Graham_ (1882), built by the Company at Fort Chipewyan on Lake
Athabasca, by Captain John M. Smith. Three years later the same captain
built the screw-propeller _Wrigley_, at Fort Smith, on the Slave River;
and a few years afterward, this indefatigable builder launched at
Athabasca landing the stern-wheeler _Athabasca_, for the water stretches
of the Upper Athabasca River.

How remarkable the record of adventure, trade, rivalry, bloodshed,
hardship, and successful effort, from the time, more than a century ago,
when Peter Pond started out on his seemingly desperate undertaking!



     Extension of trade in New Caledonia--The Western
     Department--Fort Vancouver built--Governor's residence and
     Bachelor's Hall--Fort Colville--James Douglas, a man of note--A
     dignified official--An Indian rising--A brave woman--The fertile
     Columbia Valley--Finlayson, a man of action--Russian fur
     traders--Treaty of Alaska--Lease of Alaska to the Hudson's Bay
     Company--Fort Langley--The great farm--Black at Kamloops--Fur
     trader v. botanist--"No soul above a beaver's skin"--A tragic
     death--Chief Nicola's eloquence--A murderer's fate.

The great exploration early in the century secured the Pacific Slope
very largely to the North-West Company. Several of their most energetic
agents, as the names of the rivers running into the Pacific Ocean show,
had made a deep impression on the region even as far south as the mouth
of the Columbia River. On the union of the North-West and Hudson's Bay
Companies, Governor Simpson threw as much energy into the development of
trade in the country on the western side of the Rocky Mountains as if he
had been a thorough-going Nor'-Wester.

In his administration from ocean to ocean he divided the trading
territory into four departments, viz. Montreal, the Southern, the
Northern, and the Western. In each of these there were four factors,
and these were, in the Western or Rocky Mountain department, subject
to one chief. Under the chief factor the gradation was chief trader,
chief clerk, apprenticed clerk, postmaster, interpreter, voyageur, and

This fuller organization and the cessation of strife resulted in a
great increase of the trade of the Hudson's Bay Company on the coast as
well as the east side of the Rocky Mountains. The old fort of Astoria,
which was afterwards known as Fort George, was found too far from the
mountains for the convenience of the fur traders. Accordingly in 1824-5,
a new fort was erected on the north side of the Columbia River, six
miles above its junction with the Willamette River. The new fort was
called Fort Vancouver, and was built on a prairie slope about one mile
back from the river, but it was afterwards moved nearer the river bank.
The new site was very convenient for carrying on the overland traffic
to Puget Sound. This fort was occupied for twenty-three years, until
international difficulties rendered its removal necessary.

Fort Vancouver was of considerable size, its stockade measuring 750 ft.
in length and 600 ft. in breadth. The Governor's residence, Bachelor's
Hall, and numerous other buildings made up a considerable establishment.
About the fort a farm was under cultivation to the extent of fifteen
hundred acres, and a large number of cattle, sheep, and horses were bred
upon it and supplied the trade carried on with the Russians in the Far

Farther up the Columbia River, where the Walla Walla River emptied in,
a fort was constructed in 1818. The material for this fort was brought
a considerable distance, and being in the neighbourhood of troublesome
tribes of Indians, care was taken to make the fort strong and defensible.

Still further up the Columbia River and near the mountains, an important
post, Fort Colville, was built. This fort became the depôt for all
the trade done on the Columbia River; and from this point the brigade
which had been organized at Fort Vancouver made its last call before
undertaking the steep mountain climb which was necessary in order that
by the middle of March it might reach Norway House and be reported at
the great summer meeting of the fur traders' council there. This task
needed a trusty leader, and for many years Chief Factor, afterward Sir
James, Douglas became the man on whom Governor and Council depended to
do this service.

The mention of the name of James Douglas brings before us the greatest
and most notable man developed by the fur trade of the Pacific slope.
The history of this leader was for fifty years after the coalition of
the Companies in 1821, the history of the Hudson's Bay Company on the

[Illustration: SIR JAMES DOUGLAS.]

Born near the beginning of the century, a scion of the noble house of
Douglas, young Douglas emigrated to Canada, entered the North-West
Company, learned French as if by magic, and though little more than
a lad, at once had heavy responsibilities thrown upon him. He was
enterprising and determined, with a judicious mixture of prudence. He
had capital business talents and an adaptability that stood him in good
stead in dealing with Indians. The veteran Chief Factor, McLoughlin,
who had served his term in the Nor'-Wester service about Lake Superior
and Lake Nepigon, was appointed to the charge of the Pacific or Western
District. He discerned the genius of his young subordinate, and with
the permission of the directors in London, after a short interval, took
Douglas west of the mountains to the scene of his future successes. The
friendship between these chiefs of the Pacific Coast was thus early
begun, and they together did much to mould the British interests on the
Pacific Coast into a comely shape.

While McLoughlin crossed at once to the Columbia and took charge of
Fort Vancouver, he directed Douglas to go north to New Caledonia, or
what is now Northern British Columbia, to learn the details of the fur
trade of the mountains. Douglas threw himself heartily into every part
of his work. He not only learned the Indian languages, and used them to
advantage in the advancement of the fur trade, but studied successfully
the physical features of the country and became an authority on the
Pacific Slope which proved of greatest value to the Company and the
country for many a day.

Douglas had as his headquarters Fort St. James, near the outlet of
Stuart Lake, i.e. just west of the summit of the Rocky Mountains. He
determined to enforce law and do away with the disorder which prevailed
in the district. An Indian, who some time before had murdered one of
the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company, had been allowed to go at
large. Judgment being long deferred, the murderer thought himself
likely to be unmolested, and visited Stuart Lake. Douglas, learning of
his presence, with a weak garrison seized the criminal and visited
vengeance on him. The Indians were incensed, but knowing that they had
to deal with a doughty Douglas, employed stratagem in their reprisals.
The old chief came very humbly to the fort and, knocking at the gate,
was given admittance. He talked the affair over with Douglas, and the
matter seemed in a fair way to be settled when another knock was heard
at the gate. The chief stated that it was his brother who sought to be
admitted. The gate was opened, when in rushed the whole of the Nisqually
tribe. McLean vividly describes the scene which ensued: "The men of
the fort were overpowered ere they had time to stand on their defence.
Douglas, however, seized a wall-piece that was mounted in the hall,
and was about to discharge it on the crowd that was pouring in upon
him, when the chief seized him by the hands and held him fast. For an
instant his life was in the utmost peril, surrounded by thirty or forty
Indians, their knives drawn, and brandishing them over his head with
frantic gestures, and calling out to the chief, "Shall we strike? Shall
we strike?"

The chief hesitated, and at this critical moment the interpreter's wife
(daughter of an old trader, James McDougall) stepped forward, and by her
presence of mind saved him and the establishment.

"Observing one of the inferior chiefs, who had always professed the
greatest friendship for the whites, standing in the crowd, she addressed
herself to him, exclaiming, 'What! you a friend of the whites, and not
say a word in their behalf at such a time as this! Speak! You know the
murderer deserved to die; according to your own laws the deed was just;
it is blood for blood. The white men are not dogs; they love their own
kindred as well as you; why should they not avenge their murder?'"

The moment the heroine's voice was heard the tumult subsided; her
boldness struck the savages with awe. The chief she addressed, acting
on her suggestion, interfered, and being seconded by the old chief, who
had no serious intention of injuring the whites, and was satisfied with
showing them that they were fairly in his power, Douglas and his men
were set at liberty, and an amicable conference having taken place, the
Indians departed much elated with the issue of their enterprise.

Douglas spent his four years in the interior in a most interesting and
energetic life. The experience there gained was invaluable in his after
career as a fur trader. In 1826, at Bear Lake, at the head of a branch
of the River Skeena, he built a fort, which he named Fort Connolly, in
honour of his superior officer, the chief of the Pacific department.
Other forts in this region date their origin to Douglas's short stay in
this part of the mountains. Douglas also had an "affair of the heart"
while at Fort St. James. Young and impressionable, he fell in love with
Nellie, the daughter of Mr. Connolly, a young "daughter of the country,"
aged sixteen. She became his wife and survived him as Lady Douglas.

His life of adventure in the Rocky Mountains came to an end by the
summons of Chief Factor McLoughlin to appear at Fort Vancouver, the
chief point of the Company's trade on the Pacific slope. In two years
more the rising young officer became chief trader, and three years
afterward he had reached the high dignity of chief factor. His chief
work was to establish forts, superintend the trade in its different
departments, and inspect the forts at least annually. His vigilance and
energy were surprising. He became so noted that it was said of him: "He
was one of the most enterprising and inquisitive of men, famous for his
intimate acquaintance with every service of the coast."

Though James Douglas rose by well marked tokens of leadership to the
chief place on the Pacific Coast, yet the men associated with him were
a worthy and able band. His friend, Chief Factor Dr. John McLoughlin,
who had been his patron, was a man of excellent ability. McLoughlin was
of a sympathetic and friendly disposition, and took an interest in the
settlement of the fertile valley of the Columbia. His course seems to
have been disapproved of by the London Committee of the Company, and his
place was given to Douglas, after which he spent his life in Oregon. His
work and influence cannot, however, be disregarded. He passed through
many adventures and dangers. He was fond of show, and had a manner
which might well recommend him to Sir George Simpson, Governor-in-Chief.

From a trader's journal we learn: "McLoughlin and his suite would
sometimes accompany the south-bound expeditions from Fort Vancouver,
in regal state, for fifty or one hundred miles up the Willamette, when
he would dismiss them with his blessing and return to the fort. He did
not often travel, and seldom far; but on these occasions he indulged
his men rather than himself in some little variety.... It pleased
Mrs. McLoughlin thus to break the monotony of her fort life. Upon a
gaily-caparisoned steed, with silver trappings and strings of bells on
bridle reins and saddle skirt, sat the lady of Fort Vancouver, herself
arrayed in brilliant colours and wearing a smile which might cause
to blush and hang its head the broadest, warmest, and most fragrant
sunflower. By her side, also gorgeously attired, rode her lord, king of
the Columbia, and every inch a king, attended by a train of trappers,
under a chief trader, each upon his best behaviour."

But a group of men, notable and competent, gathered around these two
leaders of the fur trade on the Pacific Coast. These comprised Roderick
Finlayson, John Work, A. C. Anderson, W. F. Tolmie, John Tod, S.
Black, and others. These men, in charge of important posts, were local
magnates, and really, gathered together in council, determined the
policy of the Company along the whole coast.

In 1827 the spirit of extension of the trading operations took
possession of the Hudson's Bay Company. In that year the officers at
Fort Vancouver saw arrive from the Thames the schooner _Cadboro_,
seventy-two tons burthen. She became as celebrated on the Pacific
Coast as any prominent fur trader could have become. It was said of
this good ship, "She saw buried every human body brought by her from
England, save one, John Spence, ship carpenter." Her arrival at this
time was the occasion for an expedition to occupy the Lower Fraser with
a trading post. John McMillan commanded the expedition of twenty-five
men. Leaving Fort Vancouver in boats, and, after descending the Columbia
for a distance, crossing the country to Puget's Sound, they met the
_Cadboro_, which had gone upon her route. Transported to the mouth of
the Fraser River, which empties into the Gulf of Georgia, they, with
some difficulty, ascended the river and planted Fort Langley, where in
the first season of trade a fair quantity of beaver was purchased, and
a good supply of deer and elk meat was brought in by the hunters. The
founding of Fort Langley meant virtually the taking hold of what we now
know as the mainland of British Columbia.

The reaching out in trade was not favoured by the Indians of the
Columbia. Two years after the founding of Fort Langley, a Hudson's Bay
Company ship from London, the _William and Ann_, was wrecked at the
mouth of the Columbia River. The survivors were murdered by the Indians,
and the cargo was seized and secreted by the savage wreckers. Chief
Factor McLoughlin sent to the Indians, demanding the restoration of the
stolen articles. An old broom was all that was brought to the fort, and
this was done in a spirit of derision. The schooner _Vancouver_--the
first ship of that name--(150 tons burthen), built on the coast, was
wrecked five years after, and became a total loss.

In the same year as the wreck of the _William and Ann_, it was strongly
impressed upon the traders that a sawmill should be erected to supply
the material for building new vessels. Chief Factor McLoughlin
determined to push this on. He chose as a site a point on the Willamette
River, a tributary of the Columbia from the south, where Oregon city
now stands. He began a farm in connection with the mill, and in a
year or two undertook the construction of the mill race by blasting
in the rock, and erected cottages for his men and new settlers. The
Indians, displeased with the signs of permanent residence, burnt
McLoughlin's huts. It is said it was this enterprise that turned the
Hudson's Bay Company Committee in London against the veteran trader.
Years afterwards, Edward Ellice, the fur-trade magnate residing in
England, said, "Dr. McLoughlin was rather an amphibious and independent
personage. He was a very able man, and, I believe, a very good man; but
he had a fancy that he would like to have interests in both countries,
both in United States and in English territory.... While he remained
with the Hudson's Bay Company he was an excellent servant."

Among the traders far up in the interior, in command of Fort Kamloops,
which was at the junction of the North and South Thompson, was a
Scotchman named Samuel Black. There came as a visitor to his fort a man
of science and a countryman of his own. This man was David Douglas.
He was an enthusiast in the search for plants and birds. He was
indefatigable as a naturalist, did much service to the botany of Western
America, and has his name preserved in the characteristic tree of the
Pacific slope--the Douglas Fir. Douglas, on visiting Black, was very
firm in the expression of his opinions against the Company, saying, "The
Hudson's Bay Company is simply a mercenary corporation; there is not an
officer in it with a soul above a beaver's skin." Black's Caledonian
blood was roused, for he was a leading spirit among the traders, having
on the union of the Companies been presented with a ring with the
inscription on it, "To the most worthy of the worthy Nor'-Westers." He
challenged the botanist to a duel. The scientist deferred the meeting
till the morning, but early next day Black tapped at the parchment
window of the room where Douglas was sleeping, crying, "Mister Douglas,
are ye ready?" Douglas disregarded the invitation. David Douglas some
time after visited Hawaii, where, in examining the snares for catching
wild cattle, he fell into the pit, and was trampled to death by a wild

The death of Samuel Black was tragic. In 1841, Tranquille, a chief of
the Shushwaps, who dwelt near Kamloops, died. The friends of the chief
blamed the magic or "evil medicine" of the white man for his death. A
nephew of Tranquille waited his opportunity and shot Chief Trader Black.
The Hudson's Bay Company was aroused to most vigorous action. A writer
says: "The murderer escaped. The news spread rapidly to the neighbouring
posts. The natives were scarcely less disturbed than the white men.
The act was abhorred, even by the friends and relatives of Tranquille.
Anderson was at Nisqually at the time. Old John Tod came over from Fort
Alexandria, McLean from Fort Colville, and McKinley and Ermatinger from
Fort Okanagan. From Fort Vancouver McLoughlin sent men.... Cameron was
to assist Tod in taking charge of Kamloops. All traffic was stopped.

"Tod informed the assembled Shushwaps that the murderer must be
delivered up. The address of Nicola, chief of the Okanagans, gives a
fine example of Indian eloquence. He said: 'The winter is cold. On all
the hills around the deer are plenty; and yet I hear your children
crying for food. Why is this? You ask for powder and ball, they refuse
you with a scowl. Why do the white men let your children starve? Look
there! Beneath yon mound of earth lies him who was your friend, your
father. The powder and ball he gave you that you might get food for your
famishing wives and children, you turned against him. Great heavens!
And are the Shushwaps such cowards, dastardly to shoot their benefactor
in the back while his face was turned? Yes, alas, you have killed your
father! A mountain has fallen! The earth is shaken! The sun is darkened!
My heart is sad. I cannot look at myself in the glass. I cannot look at
you, my neighbours and friends. He is dead, and we poor Indians shall
never see his like again. He was just and generous. His heart was larger
than yonder mountain, and clearer than the waters of the lake. Warriors
do not weep, but sore is my breast, and our wives shall wail for him.
Wherefore did you kill him? But you did not. You loved him. And now you
must not rest until you have brought to justice his murderer.'

"The old man was so rigid in expression that his whole frame and
features seemed turned to stone.

"Archibald McKinley said, 'Never shall I forget it; it was the grandest
speech I ever heard.'

"The murderer was soon secured and placed in irons, but in crossing a
river he succeeded in upsetting the boat in the sight of Nicola and his
assembled Indians. The murderer floated down the stream, but died, his
death song hushed by the crack of rifles from the shore."

Thus by courage and prudence, alas! not without the sacrifice of
valuable lives, was the power of the Hudson's Bay Company and the
prestige of Great Britain established on the Pacific Coast.



     Fort Vancouver on American soil--Chief Factor Douglas
     chooses a new site--Young McLoughlin killed--Liquor selling
     prohibited--Dealing with the Songhies--A Jesuit father--Fort
     Victoria--Finlayson's skill--Chinook jargon--The brothers
     Ermatinger--A fur-trading Junius--"Fifty-four, forty, or
     fight"--Oregon Treaty--Hudson's Bay Company indemnified--The waggon
     road--A colony established--First governor--Gold fever--British
     Columbia--Fort Simpson--Hudson's Bay Company in the interior--The
     forts--A group of worthies--Service to Britain--The coast become

The Columbia River grew to be a source of wealth to the Hudson's Bay
Company. Its farming facilities were great, and its products afforded
a large store for supplying the Russian settlements of Alaska. But as
on the Red River, so here the influx of agricultural settlers sounded a
note of warning to the fur trader that his day was soon to pass away.
With the purpose of securing the northern trade, Fort Langley had been
built on the Fraser River. The arrival of Sir George Simpson on the
coast on his journey round the world was the occasion of the Company
taking a most important step in order to hold the trade of Alaska.

In the year following Sir George's visit, Chief Factor Douglas crossed
Puget Sound and examined the southern extremity of Vancouver Island
as to its suitability for the erection of a new fort to take the
place in due time of Fort Vancouver. Douglas found an excellent site,
close beside the splendid harbour of Esquimalt, and reported to the
assembled council of chief factors and traders at Fort Vancouver that
the advantages afforded by the site, especially that of its contiguity
to the sea, would place the new fort, for all their purposes, in a much
better position than Fort Vancouver. The enterprise was accordingly
determined on for the next season.

A tragic incident took place at this time on the Pacific Coast, which
tended to make the policy of expansion adopted appear to be a wise and
reasonable one. This was the violent death of a young trader, the son
of Chief Trader McLoughlin, at Fort Taku on the coast of Alaska, in the
territory leased from the Russians by the Hudson's Bay Company. The
murder was the result of a drunken dispute among the Indians, in which,
accidentally, young McLoughlin had been shot.

Sir George Simpson had just returned to the fort from his visit to the
Sandwich Islands, and was startled at seeing the Russian and British
ships, with flags at half-mast, on account of the young trader's death.
The Indians, on the arrival of the Governor, expressed the greatest
penitence, but the stern Lycurgus could not be appeased, and this
calamity, along with one of a similar kind, which had shortly before
occurred on the Stikine River, led Sir George Simpson and the Russian
Governor Etholin to come to an agreement to discontinue at once the
sale of spirituous liquor in trading with the Indians. The Indians for
a time resorted to every device, such as withholding their furs unless
liquor was given them, but the traders were unyielding, and the trade on
the coast became safer and more profitable on account of the disuse of
strong drink.

The decision to build a new fort having been reached in the next spring,
the moving spirit of the trade on the coast, James Douglas, with fifteen
men, fully supplied with food and necessary implements, crossed in the
_Beaver_ from Nisqually, like another Eneas leaving his untenable city
behind to build a new Troy elsewhere. On the next day, March 13th, the
vessel came to anchor opposite the new site.

A graphic writer has given us the description of the beautiful spot:
"The view landwards was enchanting. Before them lay a vast body of land,
upon which no white man then stood. Not a human habitation was in sight;
not a beast, scarcely a bird. Even the gentle murmur of the voiceless
wood was drowned by the gentle beating of the surf upon the shore. There
was something specially charming, bewitching in the place. Though wholly
natural it did not seem so. It was not at all like pure art, but it was
as though nature and art had combined to map out and make one of the
most pleasing prospects in the world."

The visitor looking at the City of Victoria in British Columbia to-day
will say that the description is in no way overdrawn. Not only is the
site one of the most charming on the earth, but as the spectator turns
about he is entranced with the view on the mainland, of Mount Olympia,
so named by that doughty captain, John Meares, more than fifty years
before the founding of this fort.

The place had been already chosen for a village and fortification by the
resident tribe, the Songhies, and went by the Indian name of Camosun.
The Indian village was a mile distant from the entrance to the harbour.
When the _Beaver_ came to anchor, a gun was fired, which caused a
commotion among the natives, who were afraid to draw near the intruding
vessel. Next morning, however, the sea was alive with canoes of the

The trader immediately landed, chose the site for his post, and found
at a short distance tall and straight cedar-trees, which afforded
material for the stockades of the fort. Douglas explained to the Indians
the purpose of his coming, and held up to them bright visions of the
beautiful things he would bring them to exchange for their furs. He also
employed the Indians in obtaining for him the cedar posts needed for his

The trader showed his usual tact in employing a most potent means of
gaining an influence over the savages by bringing the Jesuit Father
Balduc, who had been upon the island before and was known to the
natives. Gathering the three tribes of the south of the island, the
Songhies, Clallams, and Cowichins, into a great rustic chapel which had
been prepared, Father Balduc held an impressive religious service, and
shortly after visited a settlement of the Skagits, a thousand strong,
and there too, in a building erected for public worship, performed the
important religious rites of his Church before the wondering savages.

It was the intention of the Hudson's Bay Company to make the new fort
at Camosun, which they first called Fort Albert, and afterwards Fort
Victoria--the name now borne by the city, the chief trading depôt on the

[Illustration: FORT VICTORIA, B.C.]

As soon as the buildings were well under way, Chief Factor Douglas
sailed northward along the coast to re-arrange the trade. Fort Simpson,
which was on the mainland, some fifteen degrees north of the new fort
and situated between the Portland Canal and the mouth of the Skeena
River, was to be retained as necessary for the Alaska trade, but the
promising officer, Roderick Finlayson, a young Scotchman, who had shown
his skill and honesty in the northern post, was removed from it and
given an important place in the new establishment. Living a useful and
blameless life, he was allowed to see the new fort become before his
death a considerable city. Charles Ross, the master of Fort McLoughlin,
being senior to Finlayson, was for the time being placed in charge of
the new venture. The three minor forts, Taku, Stikine, and McLoughlin,
were now closed, and the policy of consolidation led to Fort Victoria at
once rising into importance.

On the return of the chief factor from his northern expedition, with
all the employés and stores from the deserted posts, the work at Fort
Victoria went on apace. The energetic master had now at his disposal
fifty good men, and while some were engaged at the buildings--either
store-houses or dwellings--others built the defences. Two bastions
of solid block work were erected, thirty feet high, and these were
connected by palisades or stockades of posts twenty feet high, driven
into the earth side by side. The natives encamped alongside the new
work, looked on with interest, but as they had not their wives and
children with them, the traders viewed them with suspicion. On account
of the watchfulness of the builders, the Indians, beyond a few acts of
petty theft, did not interfere with the newcomers in their enterprise.

Three months saw the main features of the fort completed. On
entering the western gate of the fort, to the right was to be seen a
cottage-shaped building, the post office, then the smithy; further
along the walls were the large store-house, carpenter's shop, men's
dormitory, and the boarding-house for the raw recruits. Along the east
wall were the chapel, chaplain's house, then the officers' dining-room,
and cook-house attached. Along the north wall was a double row of
store-houses for furs and goods, and behind them the gunpowder magazine.
In the north-west corner was the cottage residence of the chief factor
and his family.

The defences of the fort were important, consisting of two bastions on
the western angles, and these contained six or eight nine-pounders. The
south tower was the real fort from which salutes were fired; the north
tower was a prison; and near the western or front gate stood the belfry
erection and on its top the flag-staff. Such was the first Fort Albert
or Victoria.

Victoria rapidly grew into notice, and in due time Roderick Finlayson,
the man of adaptation and force, on the death of his superior officer
became chief factor in charge. The writer met the aged fur trader years
after he had retired from active service, and spent with him some hours
of cheerful discourse. Large and commanding in form, Finlayson had
the marks of governing ability about him. He lacked the adroitness of
McLoughlin, the instability of Tod, and the genius of Douglas, but he
was a typical Scotchman, steady, patient, and trustworthy. Like an old
patriarch, he spent his last days in Victoria, keeping a large extent of
vacant city property in a common. Urged again and again to sell it when
it had become valuable, the sturdy pioneer replied that he "needed it to
pasture his 'coo.'"

One of the things most striking in all the early traders was their
ability to master language. Many of the officers of the Company were
able to speak four languages. On the Pacific Coast, on account of
the many Indian tongues differing much from each other, there grew
up a language of commerce, known as the Chinook jargon. It was a
most remarkable phenomenon; it is still largely in use. The tribe
most familiar to the traders at the beginning of the century was the
Chinooks. English-speaking, French, and United States traders met with
them, and along with them the Kanakas, or Sandwich Island workmen, with
many bands of coast Indians.

A trade has developed upon the Pacific Coast, the Chinook jargon has
grown, and now numbers some five hundred words. Of these, nearly half
were Chinook in origin, a number were from other Indian languages,
almost a hundred were French, and less than seventy English, while
several were doubtful. The then leading elements among the traders were
known in the jargon as respectively, Pasai-ooks, French, a corruption
of Français; King Chautchman (King George man), English; and Boston,
American. The following will show the origin and meaning of a few words,
showing changes made in consonants which the Indians cannot pronounce.

   _French._        _Jargon._        _Meaning._
  Le mouton.         Lemoots.         Sheep.
  Chapeau.           Seahpo.          Hat.
  Sauvage.           Siwash.          Indian.

  _English._        _Jargon._        _Meaning._
  Fire.              Piah.            Fire or cook.
  Coffee.            Kaupy.           Coffee.
  Handkerchief.      Hat'atshum.      Handkerchief.

  _Chinook._        _Jargon._        _Meaning._
  Tkalaitanam.       Kali-tan.        Arrow.
  Thliakso.          Yokso.           Hair.
    ----             Klootchman.      Woman.

Songs, hymns, sermons, and translations of portions of the Bible are
made in the jargon, and used by missionaries and teachers. Several
dictionaries of the dialect have been published.

Among the out-standing men who were contemporaries upon the Pacific
Coast of Finlayson were the two brothers Ermatinger. Already it has
been stated that they were nephews of the famous old trader of Sault
Ste. Marie. Their father had preferred England to Canada, and had gone
thither. His two sons, Edward and Francis, were, as early as 1818,
apprenticed by their father to the Hudson's Bay Company and sent on the
Company's ship to Rupert's Land, by way of York Factory. Edward, whose
autobiographical sketch, hitherto unpublished, lies before us, tells
us that he spent ten years in the fur trade, being engaged at York
Factory, Oxford House, Red River, and on the Columbia River. Desirous
of returning to the service after he had gone back to Canada, he had
received an appointment to Rupert's Land again from Governor Simpson.
This was cancelled by the Governor on account of a grievous quarrel
with old Charles, the young trader's uncle, on a sea voyage with the
Governor to Britain. For many years, however, Edward Ermatinger lived
at St. Thomas, Ontario, where his son, the respected Judge Ermatinger,
still resides. The old gentleman became a great authority on Hudson's
Bay affairs, and received many letters from the traders, especially, it
would seem, from those who had grievances against the Company or against
its strong-willed Governor.

Francis Ermatinger, the other brother, spent between thirty and forty
years in the Far West, especially on the Pacific Coast. An unpublished
journal of Francis Ermatinger lies before us. It is a clear and vivid
account of an expedition to revenge the death of a trader, Alexander
Mackenzie, and four men who had been basely murdered (1828) by the tribe
of Clallam Indians. The party, under Chief Factor Alexander McLeod,
attacked one band of Indians and severely punished them; then from the
ship _Cadboro_ on the coast, a bombardment of the Indian village took
place, in which many of the tribe of the murderers were killed, but
whether the criminals suffered was never known.

That Francis Ermatinger was one of the most hardy, determined, and
capable of the traders is shown by a remarkable Journey made by him,
under orders from Sir George Simpson on his famous journey round the
world. Ermatinger had left Fort Vancouver in charge of a party of
trappers to visit the interior of California. Sir George, having heard
of him in the upper waters of one of the rivers of the coast, ordered
him to meet him at Monterey. This Ermatinger undertook to do, and
after a terrific journey, crossing snowy chains of mountains, fierce
torrents in a country full of pitfalls, reached the imperious Governor.
Ermatinger had assumed the disguise of a Spanish caballero, and was
recognized by his superior officer with some difficulty. Ermatinger
wrote numerous letters to his brothers in Canada, which contained
details of the hard but exciting life he was leading.

Most unique and peculiar of all the traders on the Pacific Coast was
John Tod, who first appeared as a trader in the Selkirk settlement and
wrote a number of the Hargrave letters. In 1823 he was sent by Governor
Simpson, it is said, to New Caledonia as to the penal settlement of
the fur traders, but the young Scotchman cheerfully accepted his
appointment. He became the most noted letter-writer of the Pacific
Coast, indeed he might be called the prince of controversialists among
the traders. There lies before the writer a bundle of long letters
written over a number of years by Tod to Edward Ermatinger. Tod,
probably for the sake of argument, advocated loose views as to the
validity of the Scriptures, disbelief of many of the cardinal Christian
doctrines, and in general claimed the greatest latitude of belief. It is
very interesting to see how the solemn-minded and orthodox Ermatinger
strives to lead him into the true way. Tod certainly had little effect
upon his faithful correspondent, and shows the greatest regard for his

The time of Sir George Simpson's visit to the coast on his journey round
the world was one of much agitation as to the boundary line between
the British and United States possessions on the Pacific Coast. By the
treaty of 1825 Russia and Britain had come to an agreement that the
Russian strip along the coast should reach southward only to 54 deg.
40´ N. lat. The United States mentioned its claim to the coast as far
north as the Russian boundary. However preposterous it may seem, yet
it was maintained by the advocates of the Monroe doctrine that Great
Britain had no share of the coast at all. The urgency of the American
claim became so great that the popular mind seemed disposed to favour
contesting this claim with arms. Thus originated the famous saying,
"Fifty-four, forty, or fight." The Hudson's Bay Company was closely
associated with the dispute, the more that Fort Vancouver on the
Columbia River might be south of the boundary line, though their action
of building Fort Victoria was shown to be a wise and timely step. At
length in 1846 the treaty between Great Britain and the United States
was made and the boundary line established. The Oregon Treaty, known in
some quarters as the Ashburton Treaty, provided that the 49th parallel
of latitude should on the mainland be the boundary, thus handing over
Fort Vancouver, Walla Walla, Colville, Nisqually, and Okanagan to the
United States, and taking them from their rightful owners, the Hudson's
Bay Company. Article two of the great treaty, however, stated that the
Company should enjoy free navigation of the Columbia River, while the
third article provided that the possessory rights of the Hudson's Bay
Company and all other British subjects on the south side of the boundary
line should be respected.

The decision in regard to the boundary led to changes in the Hudson's
Bay Company establishments. Dr. McLoughlin, having lost the confidence
of the Company, threw in his lot with his United States home, and
retired in the year of the treaty to Oregon City, where he died a
few years after. His name is remembered as that of an impulsive,
good-hearted, somewhat rash, but always well-meaning man.

Though Fort Victoria became the depôt for the coast of the trade of
the Company, Fort Vancouver, with a reduced staff, was maintained for
a number of years by the Company. While under charge of Chief Trader
Wark, a part of the fields belonging to the Company at Fort Vancouver
were in a most high-handed manner seized by the United States for
military purposes. The senior officer, Mr. Grahame, on his return from
an absence, protested against the invasion. In June, 1860, however,
the Hudson's Bay Company withdrew from the Columbia. The great herd of
wild cattle which had grown up on the Columbia were disposed of by the
Company to a merchant of Oregon. The Company thus retired to the British
side of the boundary line during the three years closing with 1860.

Steps were taken by the Hudson's Bay Company to obtain compensation from
the United States authorities. A long and wearisome investigation took
place; witnesses were called and great diversity of opinion prevailed as
to the value of the interest of the Company in its forts. The Hudson's
Bay Company claimed indemnity amounting to the sum of 2,000,000 dols.
Witnesses for the United States gave one-tenth of that amount as a fair
value. Compensation of a moderate kind was at length made to the Company
by the United States.

On its withdrawal from Oregon the Hudson's Bay Company decided on
opening up communication with the interior of the mainland up the Fraser
River. This was a task of no small magnitude, on account of the rugged
and forbidding banks of this great river. A. Caulfield Anderson, an
officer who had been in the Company's service for some fourteen years
before the date of the Oregon Treaty and was in charge of a post on the
Fraser River, was given the duty of finding the road to the interior.
He was successful in tracing a road from Fort Langley to Kamloops. The
Indians offered opposition to Anderson, but he succeeded in spite of
all hindrances, and though other routes were sought for and suggested,
yet Anderson's road by way of the present town of Hope and Lake Nicola
to Kamloops afterwards became one great waggon road to the interior. No
sooner had the boundary line been fixed than agitation arose to prepare
the territory north of the line for a possible influx of agriculturists
or miners and also to maintain the coast true to British connection. The
Hudson's Bay Company applied to the British Government for a grant of
Vancouver Island, which they held under a lease good for twelve years
more. Mr. Gladstone opposed the application, but considering it the best
thing to be done in the circumstances, the Government made the grant
(1847) to the Company under certain conditions. The Company agreed to
colonize the island, to sell the lands at moderate rates to settlers,
and to apply nine-tenths of the receipts toward public improvements.
The Company entered heartily into the project, issued a prospectus
for settlers, and hoped in five years to have a considerable colony
established on the Island.

Steps were taken by the British Government to organize the new colony.
The head of the Government applied to the Governor of the Company to
name a Governor. Chief Factor Douglas was suggested, but probably
thinking an independent man would be more suitable, the Government gave
the appointment to a man of respectability, Richard Blanshard, in the
end of 1849.

The new Governor arrived, but no preparations had been made for his
reception. No salary was provided for his maintenance, and the attitude
of the Hudson's Bay Company officially at Fort Victoria was decidedly
lacking in heartiness. Governor Blanshard's position was nothing
more than an empty show. He issued orders and proclamations which
were disregarded. He visited Fort Rupert, which had been founded by
the Company on the north-east angle of the island, and there held an
investigation of a murder of three sailors by the Newitty Indians.
Governor Blanshard spent much of his time writing pessimistic reports
of the country to Britain, and after a residence of a year and a half
returned to England, thoroughly soured on account of his treatment by
the officers of the Company.

The colonization of Vancouver Island proved very slow. A company of
miners for Nanaimo, and another of farmers from Sooke, near Victoria,
came, but during Governor Blanshard's rule only one _bonâ-fide_ sale
of land was made, and five years after the cession to the Company
there were less than five hundred colonists. Chief Factor Douglas
succeeded to the governorship and threw his accustomed energy into his
administration. The cry of monopoly, ever a popular one, was raised,
and inasmuch as the colony was not increasing sufficiently to satisfy
the Imperial Government, the great Committee of the House of Commons
of 1857 was appointed to examine the whole relation of the Company to
Rupert's Land and the Indian territories. The result of the inquiry was
that it was decided to relieve the Hudson's Bay Company of the charge of
Vancouver Island at the time of expiry of their lease. The Hudson's Bay
Company thus withdrew on the Pacific Coast to the position of a private
trading company, though Sir James Douglas, who was knighted in 1863,
continued Governor of the Crown Colony of Vancouver Island, with the
added responsibility of the territory on the mainland.

At this juncture the gold discovery in the mainland called much
attention to the country. Thousands of miners rushed at once to the
British possessions on the Pacific Coast. Fort Victoria, from being a
lonely traders' post, grew as if by magic into a city. Thousands of
miners betook themselves to the Fraser River, and sought the inland
gold-fields. All this compelled a more complete organization than the
mere oversight of the mainland by Governor Douglas in his capacity as
head of the fur trade. Accordingly the British Government determined to
relieve the Hudson's Bay Company of responsibility for the mainland,
which they held under a licence soon to expire, and to erect New
Caledonia and the Indian territories of the coast into a separate Crown
Colony under the name of British Columbia. In Lord Lytton's dispatches
to Governor Douglas, to whom the governorship of both of the colonies
of Vancouver Island and British Columbia was offered, the condition is
plainly stated that he would be required to sever his connection with
the Hudson's Bay Company and the Puget Sound Agricultural Company,
and to be independent of all local interests. Here we leave Sir James
Douglas immersed in his public duties of governing the two colonies,
which in time became one province under the name of British Columbia,
thus giving up the guidance of the fur-trading stations for whose
up-building he had striven for fifty years.

The posts of the Hudson's Bay Company on the Pacific Coast in 1857

  _Vancouver Island_--
        Fort Victoria.
        Fort Rupert.

  _Fraser River_--
        Fort Langley.

  _Thompson River_--
        Fort Hope.

  _North-West Coast_--
        Fort Simpson.

  _New Caledonia_--
        Stuart Lake.
        McLeod Lake.
        Fraser Lake.
        Fort George.
        Connolly Lake.



     A vast region--First spiritual adviser--A _locum tenens_--Two
     French Canadian priests--St. Boniface founded--Missionary
     zeal in Mackenzie River district--Red River parishes--The
     great Archbishop Taché--John West--Archdeacon Cochrane, the
     founder--John McCallum--Bishop Anderson--English Missionary
     Societies--Archbishop Machray--Indian Missions--John Black, the
     Presbyterian apostle--Methodist Missions on Lake Winnipeg--The
     Cree syllabic--Chaplain Staines--Bishop Cridge--Missionary
     Duncan--Metlakahtla--Roman Catholic coast missions--Church of
     England bishop--Diocese of New Westminster--Dr. Evans--Robert

Wherever British influence has gone throughout the world the Christian
faith of the British people has followed. It is true, for one hundred
and fifty years the ships to Hudson Bay crossed regularly to the
forts on the Bay, and beyond certain suggestions as to service to the
employés, no recognition of religion took place on Hudson Bay, and no
Christian clergyman or missionary visitor found his way thither. The
Company was primarily a trading company, its forts were far apart, and
there were few men at any one point.

The first heralds of the Cross, indeed, to reach Rupert's Land were the
French priests who accompanied Verendrye, though they seem to have made
no settlements in the territory. It is said that after the conquest
of Canada, when the French traders had withdrawn from the North-West,
except a few traditions in one of the tribes, no trace of Christianity
was left behind.

The first clergyman to arrive in Rupert's Land was in connection with
Lord Selkirk's colony in 1811. A party of Lord Selkirk's first colonists
having come from Sligo, the founder sent one Father Bourke to accompany
the party to Red River. The wintering at York Factory seems to have
developed some unsatisfactory traits in the spiritual adviser, and he
did not proceed further than the shore of the Bay, but returned to his
native land.

The necessity of providing certain spiritual oversight for his Scottish
colonists occupied Lord Selkirk's mind. In 1815 James Sutherland, an
elder authorized by the Church of Scotland to baptize and marry, arrived
with one of the bands of colonists at Red River. The first point in
the agreement between Lord Selkirk and his colonists was "to have the
services of a minister of their own church." This was Lord Selkirk's
wish, and Mr. Sutherland was sent as _locum tenens_. For three years
this devout man performed the duties of his sacred office, until in
the conflict between the rival Companies he was forcibly taken away to
Canada by the North-West Company.

Lord Selkirk entered into correspondence with the Roman Catholic
authorities in Lower Canada as to their appointing priests to take
charge of the French and De Meurons of his colony. We have already seen
in the sketch of John McLeod that two French priests, Joseph Norbert
Provencher and Sévère Dumoulin, proceeded to the North-West and took
up a position on the east side of Red River nearly opposite the site
of the demolished Fort Gibraltar. On account of the preponderance of
the German-speaking De Meurons, the settlement was called St. Boniface,
after the German patron saint. Though these pioneer priests endured
hardships and poverty, they energetically undertook their work, and
maintained a school in which, shortly after, we are told, there were
scholars in the "Humanities."

With great zeal the Roman Catholic Church has carried its missions to
the Indians, even to distant Athabasca and Mackenzie River. In 1822
the Priest Provencher was made a bishop under the title of Bishop
of Juliopolis (_in partibus infidelium_). His jurisdiction included
Rupert's Land and the North-West or Indian territories. Besides the work
among the Indians, the Bishop organized the French settlements along the
Red and Assiniboine Rivers into parishes. In addition to St. Boniface,
some of these were St. Norbert, St. François Xavier, St. Charles, St.
Vital, and the like, until, at the close of the Hudson's Bay Company's
rule in 1869, there were nine French parishes.

The Indian missions have been largely carried on by a Society of the
Roman Catholic Church known as the Oblate Fathers. A sisterhood of the
Grey Nuns have also taken a strong hold of the North-West.

In the year 1844 a young French priest named Alexandre Antonin Taché
came to the North-West and led the way in carrying the faith among
the Indians of the Mackenzie River. A most interesting work of Father
Taché, called "Vingt Années de Missions," gives the life and trials of
this devoted missionary. In a few years the young priest was appointed
coadjutor of Bishop Provencher, and on the death of that prelate in
1853, young Monseigneur Taché succeeded to the see under the name of
the Bishop of St. Boniface. Bishop Taché became a notable man of the
Red River settlement. He was a man of much breadth of view, kindliness
of manner, and of great religious zeal. As an educational and public
man, he wielded, during the whole time of the Hudson's Bay Company's
later régime, a potent influence. A year or two after the elevation of
Bishop Taché to the vacant place of Bishop Provencher, Bishop Grandin
was appointed a bishop of the interior and took up his abode at Ile à la
Crosse. The Roman Catholic Church has done much in bringing many wild
tribes under the civilizing influence of Christianity.

Though Lord Selkirk was compelled to betake himself to France in 1820
in search of health, he did not forget his promise to his Scottish
colonists on Red River. He entrusted the task of procuring a clergyman
for them to Mr. John Pritchard, who, we have seen, had entered the
service of his Lordship. Pritchard, acting under the direction of the
committee of the Hudson's Bay Company, seems to have taken a course that
Lord Selkirk would hardly have approved. To some extent disregarding the
promise made to the Scottish settlers, either the agent or the committee
applied to the Church Missionary Society to appoint a chaplain for the
Hudson's Bay Company at Red River.

The choice made was a most judicious one, being that of Rev. John
West, who wrote a very readable book on his experiences, in which the
condition of the settlement, along with an account of his missionary
labours, are described. A little volume, written by Miss Tucker, under
the name of "The Rainbow of the North," also gives an interesting
account of the founding of the Protestant faith in the settlement.

Mr. West arrived in Red River settlement in October, 1820, and at once
began his labours by holding services in Fort Garry. For a time he was
fully occupied in marrying many who had formerly lived as man and wife,
though already married after the Indian fashion, and in baptizing the
children. He at once opened a school. Mr. West made an exploratory
journey five or six hundred miles westward, visiting Indian tribes. In
1823 he erected the first Protestant place of worship on the Red River,
and in the same year was joined by Rev. David Jones, who was left in
charge when Mr. West returned to England.

Two years afterwards Rev. William Cochrane and his wife arrived at
Red River. Mr. Cochrane, afterward Archdeacon Cochrane, was a man of
striking personality, and to him has been given the credit of laying
the foundation of the Church of England in the Red River settlement.
The Indians to the north of the settlement on Red River were visited
and yielded readily to the solicitations of the missionaries. Early
among these self-denying Indian missionaries was the Rev. A., afterwards
Archdeacon, Cowley. Churches were erected in the parishes that were set
apart in the same way as the French parishes; St. John's, St. Paul's,
St. Andrew's, St. Clement's, St. James, Headingly, and the like, to the
number of ten, were each provided with church and school.

Rev. Mr. Jones did not neglect the educational interests of his wide
charge. Having become convinced of the necessity of establishing a
boarding-school to meet the wants of the scattered families of Rupert's
Land, Mr. Jones brought out Mr. John McCallum, a student of King's
College, Aberdeen, who had found his way to London. Coming to Red River
in 1833, McCallum began the school which has since become St. John's
College. At first this school was under the Church Missionary Society,
but a decade after its founding it was conducted by McCallum himself,
with an allowance from the Company.

In 1844 an episcopal visit was made to Red River by the first Protestant
Bishop who could reach the remote spot. This was Dr. Mountain, Bishop
of Montreal. He published a small work giving an account of his visit.
Many confirmations took place by the Bishop, and Mr. Cowley was made a
priest. John McCallum had taken such a hold upon the Selkirk settlers
that it was deemed advisable to ordain him, and for several years he
carried on the school along with the incumbency of the parish church.
McCallum only lived for five years after the Bishop's visit.

In 1838 James Leith, a wealthy chief factor of the Hudson's Bay Company,
bequeathed in his will twelve thousand pounds to be expended for the
benefit of the Indian missions in Rupert's Land. Leith's family bitterly
opposed this disposition of their patrimony, but the Master of the
Rolls, hearing that the Hudson's Bay Company was willing to add three
hundred pounds annually to the interest accruing from the Leith bequest,
gave the decision against them, and thus secured an income to the see of
seven hundred pounds a year. In 1849 the diocese of Rupert's Land was
established by the Crown, and Rev. David Anderson, of Oxford University,
was consecrated first Bishop of Rupert's Land. In the autumn of the same
year Bishop Anderson arrived at Red River, by way of York Factory, and
his first public duty was to conduct the funeral of the lamented John
McCallum. After an incumbency of fifteen years Bishop Anderson returned
to England and resigned the bishopric.

In 1865 Dr. Robert Machray arrived at Red River, having been consecrated
Bishop by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Under Bishop Anderson the
college successfully begun by McCallum languished, for the Bishop seemed
more intent on mission work than education. In the year after his
arrival, Bishop Machray revived the institution under the name of St.
John's College. It was of much service to the colony.

By the time of the passing away of the power of the Hudson's Bay
Company, four years after the arrival of Bishop Machray, substantial
stone churches and school-houses had been erected in almost all of
the parishes mentioned as organized by the Church of England. To the
Church of England belonged nearly all the English-speaking half-breed
population of the colony, as well as a large number of the Hudson's Bay
Company officers.

Bishop Machray's diocese covered a vast area. From Hudson Bay to the
Rocky Mountains was under his jurisdiction. Much work was done amongst
the Indian tribes. At Moose Factory on the Bay, another devoted labourer
was working diligently. It is true the missions were widely scattered,
but of the twenty-four clergymen belonging to the diocese of Rupert's
Land, fifteen were among the Indians at the time of the cessation of the
Hudson's Bay Company's rule. The remainder were in the parishes of Red
River such as St. John's, St. Andrew's, St. Paul's, Headingly, Poplar
Point, and Portage la Prairie.

The assistance rendered not only by the Church Missionary Society, but
also by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts,
the Colonial and Continental Church Society, and the Society for the
Promotion of Christian Knowledge, was very great, and future generations
will be indebted to the benevolence and liberality of the English people
in sending spiritual assistance to Rupert's Land.

A perusal of the work, "Red River Settlement," by Alexander Ross, shows
that a long and somewhat disappointing struggle was maintained by the
Selkirk settlers to obtain the fulfilment of Lord Selkirk's promise to
send them a minister of their own faith. Scottish governors came and
departed, but no Scottish minister came. Sir George Simpson arrived
on his yearly visits at Fort Garry, and was often interviewed by the
settlers of Kildonan, but the Governor, though pleasant and plausible
enough, was impenetrable as the sphinx. Petitions were sent to the
Hudson's Bay Company and to the Scottish General Assembly, but they
seldom reached their destination and effected nothing.

The people conformed to the service of the Church of England in the
vicinity of their parish. They were treated by the Episcopal clergy with
much consideration. Their own psalter was used in their worship, the
service was made as simple as they could well desire, but the people,
with Highland tenacity, held to their own tenets for forty years, and
maintained among themselves regular cottage meetings for prayer and

At length the question arose as to the possession of the church property
and the right of burial in St. John's burial-ground. The Scottish
settlers maintained their right to the church and churchyard. A very
acrimonious discussion arose. In the end the matter was referred to
Mr. Eden Colville, a Company director, who was in the settlement on
business. Mr. Colville informed the writer that he claimed the credit
of settling the dispute. Another site on the river bank two or three
miles to the north of St. John's, called La Grenouillère, or Frog Plain,
consisting of several hundred acres, was handed over to the Scottish
settlers for church, manse, and glebe. This was in 1851, and though the
Kildonan people were still given the right to bury their dead in St.
John's, in the future their chief interest centred in the new plot.

The presence in Red River of Mr. Ballenden, a countryman of the
Kildonan people, as Hudson's Bay Company Governor of Fort Garry, led
to an application being made to their friends in Scotland to send
them a minister. Indeed, the call had been made again and again for a
generation. This request was transmitted to Canada to Dr. Robert Burns,
a man of warm missionary zeal and great wisdom. Sir George Simpson
had been communicated with, and deemed it wise to reverse his former
policy of inaction and promised certain aid and countenance, should a
Presbyterian minister be found to care for the parish of Kildonan.

Dr. Burns had among his acquaintances a recent graduate of Knox
College, Toronto, named John Black. Him the zealous doctor urged, if
not commanded, to go to Red River. This trust was accepted, and after
a tedious and uncertain journey Rev. John Black arrived at Red River,
September, 1851. The Kildonan people immediately rallied around their
new clergyman, who, though not able to speak Gaelic as they desired, yet
became an idol to his people. In 1853 a church was erected, with the aid
of a small grant from the Hudson's Bay Company, and the foundations of
Presbyterianism were laid.

In 1865 Rev. James Nisbet, who had come a few years before to assist Mr.
Black, organized a mission to the Cree Indians, and named his mission
church on the banks of the Saskatchewan, Prince Albert. Growing by slow
degrees, the Presbyterian interest increased and was represented at
the end of the Hudson's Bay Company's rule by four or five clergymen.
Schools as maintained by voluntary contributions were erected in the
Presbyterian parishes of Kildonan and Little Britain.

Manitoba College was planned and arranged for in the closing year of the
Hudson's Bay Company's régime.

The Methodists, with the fervour and missionary zeal which has always
characterized them, determined to aid in evangelizing the Indians
of Rupert's Land. It was the English Methodists who first showed a
desire in this direction. They agreed to send the Indians a clergyman
suited for the work, if the Canadian Methodist Church would send a few
labourers trained in Indian work in Canada.

James Evans, an Englishman who had been long in Canada, and had
laboured for years among the Indians of Upper Canada, consented to go
to Rupert's Land and take the superintendence of the others sent out.
Leaving Montreal with the three English missionaries and two educated
young Ojibways, Peter Jacobs and Henry B. Steinhauser, the party went
by canoes up the lakes and then along the old fur traders' route,
and arrived at Norway House, at the foot of Lake Winnipeg, in 1840.
Evans made Norway House his headquarters, George Barnley went to Moose
Factory, William Mason to Rainy Lake and River Winnipeg, and Robert T.
Rundle to Edmonton.

The missions to the Hudson Bay and Rainy Lake were soon given up, but
Rossville and Oxford House, on Lake Winnipeg, and several points near
Edmonton, are the evidence to-day of the faithful self-denying work done
by these early Methodist pioneers. Having no whites in the country, the
operations of the Methodist Church in Rupert's Land were, up to the
time of the Hudson's Bay Company's transfer, confined to the Indians of
Rupert's Land.

Mr. Evans, the superintendent of these missions, became very celebrated
by the invention of a syllabic system of writing introduced among the
Crees. The plan is simple, and an intelligent Indian who has never seen
the system[5] can in a short time learn to read and write the syllabic.
The syllabic has spread widely over Rupert's Land, and the different
Churches use, especially among the Crees, this ingenious invention in
printing the Bible and service books. When Lord Dufferin, a number of
years ago, visited the North-West as Governor-General of Canada, on
hearing of Evans' invention he remarked, "The nation has given many a
man a title and a pension and a resting-place in Westminster Abbey who
never did half so much for his fellow-creatures."

Some claim has been made for Mason as being the inventor of this
character, but there seems to be no ground for the claim.

John Ryerson, a Canadian Methodist divine, in 1854 visited Rupert's Land
from Canada, and after seeing the missions on Lake Winnipeg, went from
York Factory to England. The taking over of the mission by the Canadian
Methodist Church resulted from this visit.

These are the main movements of a religious kind that took place within
the borders of Rupert's Land and the territories east of the Rocky
Mountains up to the end of the Hudson's Bay Company's régime. A great
service was rendered to the whites and Indians alike, to the Hudson's
Bay Company, to the Kildonan settlers, and all the native people by the
patient work of the four churches named. The best feeling, and in many
cases active co-operation, were given by these churches to each other.
The work done by these churches laid the foundation for the general
morality and advanced social life which prevailed in Red River and in
the regions beyond.

On the Pacific slope the Hudson's Bay Company took an immediate control
of the religious and educational instruction of the people, upon the
organization of Vancouver Island as a colony (1849). The Rev. Robert
Staines was sent as chaplain and teacher to Fort Victoria, and was given
a salary and an allowance for carrying on a boarding-school in which he
was assisted by his wife. Mr. Staines did not agree with the Company,
went to Britain as a delegate from the dissatisfied employés, but died
of injuries received on his homeward voyage.

Mr. Staines' successor was the Rev. Edward Cridge. The new chaplain was
well provided for by the Company, being secured a parsonage and glebe of
one hundred acres, and three hundred pounds a year, one hundred pounds
annually being as chaplain of the Company. Mr. Cridge became a prominent
clergyman of the colony, but in later years left his mother Church to
become bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church. In 1859 Bishop Hills
was made first bishop of the united colonies of Vancouver Island and
British Columbia. Twenty years afterward the diocese was divided into
(1) Vancouver Island and the islands, as _Diocese of Columbia_, (2) the
southern mainland as _Diocese of New Westminster_, and (3) the northern
mainland as _Diocese of New Caledonia_. The Church of England in British
Columbia has enjoyed large gifts from the Baroness Burdett-Coutts.

One of the most remarkable missions of modern times is that of
Metlakahtla, begun under the auspices of the Church of England by
William Duncan. The village he founded became an example of civilization
among the Indians, as well as a handmaid to the Christian work done.
Unfortunately, the model Indian village has been largely broken up by a
misunderstanding between Mr. Duncan and his bishop.

The first missionary of note of the Roman Catholic Church on the
coast was Father Demers, who became Bishop of Vancouver Island and
New Caledonia. The Oblate Fathers were early on the ground in British
Columbia, the first of the Order having baptized upwards of three
thousand men, women, and children of Indian tribes, the Songhies,
Saanechs, and Cowichins, near Victoria. Many churches, schools, and
hospitals have been founded by the energetic and self-denying Roman
Catholics who have made British Columbia their home. Bishop Seghers
succeeded the venerable Bishop Demers in his diocese.

Ten years after the formation of Vancouver Island as a Crown colony,
Revs. Dr. Evans, L. Robson, and two other ministers undertook work for
the Methodist Church on the coast. Good foundations were laid by the
clergymen named, and still better by Rev. Thomas Crosby, who joined
them after a few years' service, and entered heartily into efforts to
evangelize the Indians. He had great success among the Flathead Indians.

In 1861 the first Presbyterian minister arrived--Rev. John Hall, from
Ireland, and he undertook work in Victoria. In the year following, Rev.
Robert Jamieson came from Canada as a representative of the Canadian
Presbyterian Church and settled at New Westminster. Churches were soon
built in Victoria, Nanaimo, and New Westminster, that now contain strong
and vigorous congregations.

All of the churches were under deep obligations to the Hudson's Bay
Company for protection, assistance, and sympathy in their undertakings
on the coast. The inrush of gold seekers threw a great responsibility
upon all the churches, and it was well that the Company, merely
for motives of self-interest, should regard the influence of the
missionaries among the fierce tribes of the mountains, of both island
and mainland, as of the greatest importance. The record of self-denying
missionaries of the churches has justified all the patronage and favour
rendered them by the Hudson's Bay Company.


[5] See Appendix F.



     The Company's Indian policy--Character of officers--A race
     of hunters--Plan of advances--Charges against the Company--Liquor
     restriction--Capital punishment--Starving Indians--Diseased and
     helpless--Education and religion--The age of missions--Sturdy
     Saulteaux--The Muskegons--Wood Crees--Wandering Plain Crees--The
     Chipewyans--Wild Assiniboines--Blackfeet Indians--Polyglot
     coast tribes--Eskimos--No Indian war--No police--Pliable and
     docile--Success of the Company.

From time to time the opponents of the Company have sought to find
grounds for the overthrow of the licence to trade granted by the
Government of Britain over the Indian territories. One of the most
frequent lines of attack was in regard to the treatment of the Indians
by the fur traders. It may be readily conceded that the ideal of the
Company's officials was in many cases not the highest. The aim of
Governor Simpson in his long reign of forty years was that of a keen
trader. A politic man, the leader of the traders when in Montreal
conformed to the sentiment of the city, abroad in the wilds he did very
little to encourage his subordinates to cultivate higher aims among
the natives. Often the missionary was found raising questions very
disturbing to the monopoly, and this brought the Company officers into a
hostile attitude to him. Undoubtedly in some cases the missionaries were
officious and unfair in their criticisms.

But, on the other hand, the men and officers of the Company were
generally moral. Men of education and reading the officers usually were,
and their sentiment was likely to be in the right direction. The spirit
of the monopoly--the golden character of silence, and the need of being
secretive and uncommunicative--was instilled into every clerk, trapper,
and trader.


  (Squaws and Papooses.)

  (Indians and Squaws on their ponies.)


But the tradition of the Company was to keep the Indian a hunter.
There was no effort to encourage the native to agriculture or to any
industry. To make a good collector of fur was the chief aim. For this
the Indian required no education, for this the wandering habit needed
to be cultivated rather than discouraged, and for this it was well to
have the home ties as brittle as possible. Hence the tent and teepee
were favoured for the Indian hunter more than the log cottage or village

It was one of the most common charges against the Company that in order
to keep the Indian in subjection advances were made on the catch of
furs of the coming season, in order that, being in debt, he might be
less independent. The experience of the writer in Red River settlement
in former days leads him to doubt this, and certainly the fur traders
deny the allegation. The improvident or half-breed Indian went to the
Company's store to obtain all that he could. The traders at the forts
had difficulty in checking the extravagance of their wards. Frequently
the storekeeper refused to make advances lest he should fail in
recovering the value of the articles advanced. Fitzgerald, a writer who
took part in the agitation of 1849, makes the assertion in the most
flippant manner that to keep the Indians in debt was the invariable
policy of the Company. No evidence is cited to support this statement,
and it would seem to be very hard to prove.

The same writer undertakes, along the line of destructive criticism, to
show that the Hudson's Bay Company does not deserve the credit given
it of discouraging the traffic in strong drink, and asserts that "a
beaver skin was never lost to the Company for want of a pint of rum."
This is a very grave charge, and in the opinion of the writer cannot be
substantiated. The Bishop of Montreal, R. M. Ballantyne, and the agents
of the missionary societies are said either to have little experience
or to be unwilling to tell on this subject what they knew. This critic
then quotes various statements of writers, extending back in some cases
thirty or forty years, to show that spirituous liquors were sold by the
Company. It is undoubted that at times in the history of the fur trade,
especially at the beginning of the century, when the three Companies
were engaged in a most exacting competition, as we have fully shown,
in several cases much damage was done. On the Pacific Coast, too,
eight or ten years before this critic wrote, there was, as we have
seen, excess. At other times, also, at points in the wide field of
operations, over half a continent, intoxicating liquor was plentiful and
very injurious, but no feeling was stronger in a Hudson's Bay Company
trader's mind than that he was in a country without police, without
military, without laws, and that his own and his people's lives were
in danger should drunkenness prevail. Self-preservation inclined every
trader to prevent the use of spirits among the Indians. The writer is of
opinion that while there may have been many violations of sobriety, yet
the record of the Hudson's Bay Company has been on the whole creditable
in this matter.

The charges of executing capital punishment and of neglecting the
Indians in years of starvation may be taken together. The criticism of
the people of Red River was that the Company was weak in the execution
of the penalties of the law. They complained that the Company was
uncertain of its powers and that the hand of justice was chained. The
marvel to an unprejudiced observer is that the Company succeeded in
ruling so vast a territory with so few reprisals or executions. In
the matter of assisting the Indians in years of scarcity, it was the
interest of the fur company to save the lives of its trappers and
workers. But those unacquainted with the vast wastes of Rupert's Land
and the Far North little know the difficulties of at times obtaining
food. The readers of Milton and Cheadle's graphic story or our account
of Robert Campbell's adventures on the Stikine, know the hardships and
the near approach to starvation of these travellers. Dr. Cheadle, on a
visit to Winnipeg a few years ago, said to the writer that on his first
visit the greatest difficulty his party had was to secure supplies.
There are years in which game and fish are so scarce that in remote
northern districts death is inevitable for many. The conditions make it
impossible for the Company to save the lives of the natives. Relief for
the diseased and aged is at times hard to obtain. Smallpox and other
epidemics have the most deadly effect upon the semi-civilized people of
the far-off hunter's territory.

The charge made up to 1849 that the Hudson's Bay Company had done little
for the education and religious training of the Indians was probably
true enough. Outside of Red River and British Columbia they did not
sufficiently realize their responsibility as a company. Since that time,
with the approval and co-operation in many ways of the Company, the
various missionary societies have grappled with the problem. The Indians
about Hudson Bay, on Lake Winnipeg, in the Mackenzie River, throughout
British Columbia, and on the great prairies of Assiniboia, are to-day
largely Christianized and receiving education.

The Saulteaux, or Indians who formerly lived at Sault Ste. Marie, but
wandered west along the shore of Lake Superior and even up to Lake
Winnipeg, are a branch of the Algonquin Ojibways. Hardy and persevering,
most conservative in preserving old customs, hard to influence by
religious ideas, they have been pensioners of the Hudson's Bay Company,
but their country is very barren, and they have advanced but little.

Very interesting, among their relations of Algonquin origin, are the
Muskegons, or Swampy Crees, who have long occupied the region around
Hudson Bay and have extended inland to Lake Winnipeg. Docile and
peaceful, they have been largely influenced by Christianity. Under
missionary and Company guidance they have gathered around the posts,
and find a living on the game of the country and in trapping the wild

Related to the Muskegons are the Wood Crees, who live along the rivers
and on the belts of wood which skirt lakes and hills. They cling to the
birch-bark wigwam, use the bark canoe, and are nomadic in habit. They
may be called the gipsies of the West, and being in scattered families
have been little reached by better influences.

Another branch of the Algonquin stock is the Plain Crees. These Indians
are a most adventurous and energetic people. Leaving behind their canoes
and Huskie dogs, they obtained horses and cayuses and hied them over
the prairies. Birch-bark being unobtainable, they made their tents,
better fitted for protecting them from the searching winds of the
prairies and the cold of winter, from tanned skins of the buffalo and
moose-deer. For seven hundred miles from the mouth of the Saskatchewan
they extend to the foot hills of the Rocky Mountains. Meeting in their
great camps, seemingly untameable as a race of plain hunters, they were,
up to the time of the transfer to Canada, almost untouched by missionary
influence, but in the last thirty years they have been placed on
reserves by the Canadian Government and are in almost all cases yielding
to Christianizing agencies.

North of the country of the Crees live tribes with very wide
connections. They call themselves "Tinné" or "People," but to others
they are known as Chipewyans, or Athabascans. They seem to be less
copper-coloured than the other Indians, and are docile in disposition.
This nation stretches from Fort Churchill, on Hudson Bay, along the
English River, up to Lake Athabasca, along the Peace River into the very
heart of the Rocky Mountains, and even beyond to the coast. They have
proved teachable and yield to ameliorating influences.

Probably the oldest and best known name of the interior of Rupert's
Land, the name after which Lord Selkirk called his Colony of Assiniboia,
is that belonging to the Wild Assiniboines or Stony River Sioux. The
river at the mouth of which stands the city of Winnipeg was their
northern boundary, and they extended southward toward the great Indian
confederacy of the Sioux natives or Dakotas, of which indeed they were
at one time a branch. Tall, handsome, with firmly formed faces, agile
and revengeful, they are an intelligent and capable race. These Indians,
known familiarly as the "Stonies," have greatly diminished in numbers
since the time of Alexander Henry, jun., who describes them fully. In
later years they have been cut down with pulmonary and other diseases,
and are to-day but the fragment of a great tribe. They have long been
friendly with the Plain Crees, but are not very open to Christianity,
though there are one or two small communities which are exceptions in
this respect.

Very little under Hudson's Bay Company control were the Blackfoot
nation, along the foot hills of the Rocky Mountains, near the national
boundary. Ethnically they are related to the Crees, but they have always
been difficult to approach. Living in large camps during Hudson's Bay
Company days, they spent a wild, happy, comfortable life among the
herds of wandering buffalo of their district. Since the beginning of
the Canadian régime they have become more susceptible to civilizing
agencies, and live in great reserves in the south-west of their old
hunting grounds.

A perfect chaos of races meets us among the Indians of British Columbia
and Alaska, and their language is polyglot. Seemingly the result of
innumerable immigrations from Malayan and Mongolian sources in Asia,
they have come at different times. One of the best known tribes of
the coast is the Haidas, numbering some six thousand souls. The Nutka
Indians occupy Vancouver Island, and have many tribal divisions. To
the Selish or Flatheads belong many of the tribes of the Lower Fraser
River, while the Shushwaps hold the country on the Columbia and Okanagan
Rivers. Mention has been made already of the small but influential tribe
of Chinooks near the mouth of the Columbia River.

While differing in many ways from each other, the Indians of the Pacific
Coast have always been turbulent and excitable. From first to last
more murders and riots have taken place among them than throughout all
the vast territory held by the Hudson's Bay Company east of the Rocky
Mountains. While missionary zeal has accomplished much among the Western
Coast Indians, yet the "bad Indian" element has been a recognized and
appreciable quantity among them so far as the Company is concerned.

Last among the natives who have been under Hudson's Bay Company
influence are the Eskimos or Innuits of the Far North. They are found
on the Labrador Coast, on Coppermine River, on the shore of the Arctic
Sea, and on the Alaskan peninsula. Dressed in sealskin clothing and
dwelling in huts of snow, hastening from place to place in their sledges
drawn by wolf-like dogs called "Eskies" or "Huskies," these people have
found themselves comparatively independent of Hudson's Bay Company
assistance. Living largely on the products of the sea, they have shown
great ingenuity in manufacturing articles and implements for themselves.
The usual experience of the Company from Ungava, through the Mackenzie
River posts, and the trading houses in Alaska has been that they were
starved out and were compelled to give up their trading houses among
them. Little has been done, unless in the Yukon country, to evangelize
the Eskimos.

The marvel to the historian, as he surveys the two centuries and a
quarter of the history of the Hudson's Bay Company, is their successful
management of the Indian tribes. There has never been an Indian war in
Rupert's Land or the Indian territories--nothing beyond a temporary
_émeute_ or incidental outbreak. Thousands of miles from the nearest
British garrison or soldier, trade has been carried on in scores and
scores of forts and factories with perfect confidence. The Indians have
always respected the "Kingchauch man." He was to them the representative
of superior ability and financial strength, but more than this, he
was the embodiment of civilization and of fair and just dealing. High
prices may have been imposed on the Indians, but the Company's expenses
were enormous. There are points among the most remote trading posts
from which the returns in money were not possible in less than nine
years from the time the goods left the Fenchurch Street or Lime Street
warehouses. With all his keen bargaining and his so-called exacting
motto, "Pro pelle cutem," the trader was looked upon by the Indians as
a benefactor, bringing into his barren, remote, inhospitable home the
commodities to supply his wants and make his life happier. While the
Indians came to recognize this in their docile and pliable acceptance
of the trader's decisions, the trader also became fond of the Red man,
and many an old fur trader freely declares his affection for his Indian
ward, so faithful to his promise, unswerving in his attachment, and
celebrated for never forgetting a kindness shown him.

The success of the Company was largely due to honourable, capable,
and patient officers, clerks, and employés, who with tact and justice
managed their Indian dependents, many of whom rejoiced in the title of
"A Hudson's Bay Company Indian."



     Discontent on Red River--Queries to the Governor--A courageous
     Recorder--Free trade in furs held illegal--Imprisonment--New
     land deed--Enormous freights--Petty revenge--Turbulent
     pensioners--Heart-burnings--Heroic Isbister--Half-breed
     memorial--Mr. Beaver's letter--Hudson's Bay Company notified--Lord
     Elgin's reply--Voluminous correspondence--Company's full
     answer--Colonel Crofton's statement--Major Caldwell, a
     partisan--French petition--Nearly a thousand signatures--Love,
     a factor--The elder Riel--A court scene--Violence--"Vive la
     liberté"--The Recorder checked--A new judge--Unruly Corbett--The
     prison broken--Another rescue--A valiant doctor--A Red River Nestor.

The fuller organization of Assiniboia, after its purchase by the
Hudson's Bay Company from the heirs of the Earl of Selkirk, encouraged
the authorities at Red River to assert the rights which the Company had
always claimed--viz. the monopoly of the fur trade in Rupert's Land and
the imposition of heavy freights on imports and exports by way of Hudson
Bay. The privilege of exporting tallow, the product of the buffalo, had
been accorded on reasonable terms to a prominent resident of the Red
River, named James Sinclair. The first venture, a small one, succeeded;
but a second larger consignment was refused by the Company, and, after
lying nearly two years at York Factory, the cargo was sold to the

Twenty leading half-breeds then petitioned the Company to be allowed
to export their tallow and to be given a reasonable freight charge. No
answer was returned to this letter. The half-breeds were thus rising
in intelligence and means; being frequently employed as middlemen in
trafficking in furs, they learned something of the trade and traffic.
The half-breed settlers of the Red River settlement have always
claimed special privileges in Rupert's Land as being descended from
the aboriginal owners. It was under such circumstances that Governor
Christie, following, it is supposed, legal direction, in 1844 issued
two proclamations, the first, requiring that each settler, before the
Company would carry any goods for him, should be required to declare
that he had not been engaged in the fur trade; the second, that the
writer of every letter write his name on the outside of it, in order
that, should he be suspected of dealing in furs, it might be opened and

This was a direct issue, and they determined to bring the matter to a
crisis. Twenty leading natives (half-breeds of Red River settlement),
among them a number well known, such as James Sinclair, John Dease, John
Vincent, William Bird, and Peter Garrioch, in 1845 approached Alexander
Christie, Governor of the settlement, requesting answers to fourteen
queries. These questions required satisfaction as to whether half-breeds
could hunt, buy, sell, or traffic in furs, and also what were the
restrictions in this matter upon Europeans, &c. A pacific and soothing
reply was made by Governor Christie, but the Company soon began to take
steps to repress the free trade in furs, and the Council of Rupert's
Land passed certain regulations, among others one placing a duty of
twenty per cent. upon imports, but exempting from their tax settlers
who were free of the charge of trading in furs. This was a vexatious
regulation and roused great opposition.

All these devices had a legal smack about them, and were no doubt the
suggestions of Judge Thom, the Recorder of Red River, a remarkable man,
who, six years before this time, had come from Montreal to put legal
matters in order in the Red River settlement. The Recorder entered
_con amore_ into the matter, and advised the assertion of claims that
had fallen into disuse for many years among the different classes of
residents in the settlement. The redoubtable judge, who, it will be
remembered, was said to have been at the elbow of Sir George Simpson in
writing his "Journey Round the World," now evolved another tyrannical

A new land deed was devised, and whosoever wished to hold land in the
settlement was compelled to sign it. This indenture provided that if the
land-holder should invade any privileges of the Company and fail to
contribute to the maintenance of clergy and schools, or omit to do his
work upon the public roads, or carry on trade in skins, furs, peltry, or
dressed leather, such offender should forfeit his lands.

This was certainly un-British and severe, and we may look upon it as the
plan of the judge, who failed to understand the spirit of his age, and
would have readily fallen in with a system of feudal tenure. The writer
in after years met this judge, then very old, in London, and found him
a kindly man, though with Scottish determination, willing to follow out
his opinions logically, however rash or out of place such a course might
be. If the Hudson's Bay Company found itself in a sea of trouble, and
hostile to public sentiment in the settlement, it had to blame its own
creation, the valorous Recorder of Red River.

The imposition of enormous freights, adopted at this time for carrying
goods by way of York Factory to England, in order to check trade, was
a part of the same policy of "Thorough" recommended by this legal
adviser. Sinclair, already mentioned, became the "Village Hampden" in
this crisis. Taking an active part in his opposition to this policy of
restriction, he found that he was to be punished, by the "Company's
Ship" from England to York Factory refusing to carry for him any
freight. It was partly the Oregon question and partly the unsettled
state of public opinion in Red River that led to a British regiment
being for a time stationed at the Red River settlement. On the removal
of these troops the pensioners, a turbulent band of old discharged
soldiers, came from Britain and were settled upon the Assiniboine, above
Fort Garry. A writer who knew them well ventures to suggest that they
were of the same troublesome disposition as the former De Meurons of
Lord Selkirk. Coming ostensibly to introduce peace they brought a sword.
Sooner or later the discontent and irritation produced by Judge Thorn's
inspiration was sure to reach its culmination, and this it did in the
Sayer affair afterwards described.

The cause of the complaints from the Red River settlement found a
willing and powerful advocate in Mr. Alexander K. Isbister, a young
London barrister, and afterwards a prominent educationalist. He was a
native of Rupert's Land, and had a dash of Indian blood in his veins,
and so took up the brief for his compatriots in a formidable series
of documents. Mr. Isbister's advocacy gave standing and weight to the
contention of the Red River half-breeds, and a brave and heroic fight
was made, even though the point of view was at times quite unjust to the

In 1847, Isbister, with five other half-breeds of Red River, forwarded,
to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, a long and able memorial,
setting forth the grievances of the petitioners. The document sets
forth in short that the Company had "amassed a princely revenue" at the
expense of the natives, allowed their wards to pass their lives in the
darkest heathenism, broke their pledges to exclude strong drink from the
Indian trade, were careless of the growing evil of want and suffering in
the territory, paid little for the furs, and persecuted the natives by
checking them in their barter of furs, and followed a short-sighted and
pernicious policy.

This was assuredly a serious list of charges. Earl Grey in due time
called on Isbister and his friends for a more specific statement of
the grievances, and wrote to the Governor of Assiniboia, to the London
Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, and to the Governor-General of
Canada, Lord Elgin, asking their attention to the allegations of the

Some two months after Lord Grey's letter was received, the Hudson's Bay
Company Governor, Sir J. H. Pelly, submitted a long and minute answer
to the various charges of the petitioners. As is usually the case, both
parties had some advantages. As to the enormous profits, the Company
were able to show that they had unfortunately not been able to make
"more than the ordinary rate of mercantile profit." They replied as to
the religious interests of the natives, that their sole objects, as
stated in the Charter, were trade and the discovery of a North-West
Passage, but that they had helped at a considerable annual expense the
Church Missionary Society, Wesleyan Missionary Society, and a Roman
Catholic Missionary Society. The Company gives a most indignant denial
to the charge that they had resumed the trade in spirituous liquors with
the Indians, though admitting in the neighbourhood of Red River the use
of small quantities of strong drink in meeting the American traders.

This answer did not, however, quiet the storm. Isbister returned to
the attack, giving the evidence of Mr. Alexander Simpson, a trader on
the Pacific Coast, and the extensive and strong letter of the Rev.
Herbert Beaver, the former chaplain of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort
Vancouver. Isbister also raised the question of the validity of the
Company's Charter. The Company again replied, and so the battle raged,
reply and rejoinder, quotations and evidence _ad libitum_. Isbister may
not have proved his case, but his championship won the approbation of
many independent observers.

Lord Elgin, the efficient and popular Governor-General of Canada, gave
such reply as he was able. He states that the distance of Red River
was so great and the intercourse so little, that taking into account
the peculiar jurisdiction of the Company, he found it difficult to
obtain the information sought. As to the complaints about the religious
neglect of the Indians, Lord Elgin states that disappointments in this
matter occur in other quarters as well as in the Hudson's Bay Company
territories, but declares that the result of his inquiries in the matter
"is highly favourable to the Company, and that it has left in his mind
the impression that the authority which they exercise over the vast and
inhospitable region subject to their jurisdiction is on the whole very
advantageous to the Indians."

Lord Elgin states that he is much indebted for his information to
Colonel Crofton, the commander of the 6th Royal Regiment, which we
have seen was stationed for a time at Red River. Colonel Crofton
afterwards gave to the Colonial Secretary what one would say was
rather an unjudicial reply. He said, "I unhesitatingly assert that the
government of the Hudson's Bay Company is mild and protective, and
admirably adapted, in my opinion, for the state of society existing in
Rupert's Land, where Indians, half-breeds, or Europeans are happily
governed, and live protected by laws which I know were mercifully
and impartially administered by Mr. Thom, the Recorder, and by the
magistrates of the land." In regard to this opinion, while no doubt an
honest expression of views, it is plain that Colonel Crofton did not
understand the aspiration for self-government which prevails in Western
communities. The reply of the Governor of Assiniboia, Major Caldwell,
was likewise favourable to the Company. Alexander Ross, in his "Red
River Settlement," criticizes the method taken by Major Caldwell to
obtain information. According to Ross, the Governor sent around queries
to a few select individuals, accepting no one "below what the Major
considered a gentleman." This, the critic says, was the action of a man
"who had never studied the art of governing a people." Ross, who did not
admire the Company greatly, however, sums up the whole matter by saying,
"The allegations of harsh conduct or maladministration preferred against
the Hudson's Bay Company by Mr. Isbister and his party were in general
totally unfounded and disproved," and therefore neither Major Caldwell's
inquiries nor the inspiration of his genius were required.

Notwithstanding Major Caldwell's optimism and Lord Elgin's favourable
reply, there was really a serious condition of affairs in Red River
settlement. Along with the petition of Isbister and his five English
half-breed compatriots, there was one far more formidable from the
French half-breeds, who to the number of nine hundred and seventy-seven
subscribed their names. Presented to Her Majesty the Queen, in most
excellent terms, in the French language, their petition sought, decrying
the monopoly as severe:--

1. That as good subjects they might be governed by the principles of the
British Constitution;

2. That as British subjects they demanded their right to enjoy the
liberty of commerce;

3. They requested the sale of lands to strangers, and that a portion of
the proceeds should be applied to improve the means of transport.

French and English half-breeds were now united in a common purpose. A
strange story is related as to the way in which the English-speaking
half-breeds came to throw in their lot with their French
fellow-countrymen. A Company officer had left his two daughters at Fort
Garry to be educated. One of them was the object of the affection of a
young Scotch half-breed, and at the same time of a young Highlander.
The young lady is said to have preferred the Metis, but the stern
parent favoured the Highlander. The Scotchman, fortified by the father's
approval, proceeded to upbraid the Metis for his temerity in aspiring to
the hand of one so high in society as the lady. As love ruined Troy, so
it is said this affair joined French and English half-breeds in a union
to defeat the Company.

The agitation went on, as Isbister and his friends corresponded with
the people of Red River and succeeded so well in gaining the ear of the
British Government. Among the French people one of the fiercest and most
noisy leaders was Louis Riel, the revolutionary "miller of the Seine."
This man, the father of the rebel chief of later years, was a French
half-breed. A tribune of the people, he had a strong ascendency over the
ignorant half-breeds. He was ready for any emergency.

It is often the case that some trifling incident serves to bring on a
serious crisis in affairs. A French settler, named Guillaume Sayer,
half-breed son of an old bourgeois in the North-West Company, had
bought a quantity of goods, intending to go on a trading expedition to
Lake Manitoba. The Company proceeded to arrest him, and, after a stiff
resistance, he was overcome by force and imprisoned at Fort Garry.

As the day of trial drew near the excitement grew intense. Governor
Caldwell was a well-known martinet; the Recorder was regarded as the
originator of the policy of restriction. He was, moreover, believed
to be a Francophobe, having written a famous series of newspaper
communications in Montreal, known as the "Antigallic Letters." The day
of trial had been fixed for Ascension Day, May 17th, and this was taken
as a religious affront by the French. The Court was to meet in the

On the day of the trial hundreds of French Metis, armed, came from all
the settlements to St. Boniface Church, and, leaving their guns at the
church door, entered for service. At the close they gathered together,
and were addressed in a fiery oration by Riel. A French Canadian
admirer, writing of the matter, says, "Louis Riel obtained a veritable
triumph on that occasion, and long and loud the hurrahs were repeated by
the echoes of the Red River."

Crossing by way of Point Douglas, the Metis surrounded the unguarded
Court House at Fort Garry. The governor, judge, and magistrate arrived,
and took their seats at eleven o'clock. A curious scene now ensued: the
magistrates protested against the violence; Riel in loud tones declared
that they would give the tribunal one hour, and that if justice were
not done them, they would do it themselves. An altercation then took
place between Judge Thom and Riel, and with his loud declaration, "Et
je déclare que de ce moment Sayer est libre----" drowned by the shouts
of the Metis, the trial was over. Sayer and his fellow-prisoners betook
themselves to freedom, while the departing Metis cried out, "Le commerce
est libre! le commerce est libre! Viva la liberté!" This crisis was a
serious one. Judge Thom, so instructed by Governor Simpson, never acted
as Recorder again. The five years' struggle was over.

The movement for liberty continued to stimulate the people. Five years
afterward the plan of the agitators was to obtain the intervention of
Canada. Accordingly a petition, signed by Roderick Kennedy and five
hundred and seventy-four others, was presented to the Legislative
Assembly of Canada. The grievances of the people of Red River were
recited. It was stated that application had been made to the Imperial
Parliament without result, and this through "the chicanery of the
Company and its false representations." In 1857 the Toronto Board of
Trade petitioned the Canadian Assembly to open the Hudson's Bay Company
territories to trade. Restlessness and uncertainty largely prevailed
in Red River, though there were many of the colonists who paid little
attention to what they considered the infatuated conduct of the

No truer test of the success of government can be found than the respect
and obedience shown by the people for the law. Red River settlement,
judged by this standard, had a woful record at this time. After the
unfortunate Sayer affair, Recorder Thom was superseded, and for a
time (1855 to 1858) Judge Johnson, of Montreal, came to Fort Garry to
administer justice and to act as Governor.

Judge Black, a capable trader who had received a legal training, was
appointed to the office of Recorder, but soon found a case that tried
his judicial ability and skill. A clergyman named Corbett, who had been
bitterly hostile to the Company, testified to certain extreme statements
against the Company in the great investigation of 1857. He then returned
to his parish of Headingly in the settlement. A criminal charge was
brought against him, for which he was found guilty in the courts and
sentenced to six months' imprisonment. The opponents of the Company,
seemingly without ground, but none the less fiercely, declared that the
trial was a persecution by the Company and that Corbett was innocent.
Strong in this belief, the mob surrounded the prison at Fort Garry,
overawed the old French jailor, and, rescuing Corbett, took him home to
his parish.

Among those who had been prominent in the rescue was James Stewart,
long afterward a druggist and meteorological observer in Winnipeg.
Stewart and some of his companions were arrested for jail-breaking and
cast into prison. Some forty or fifty friends of Stewart threatened
violence should he be kept a prisoner. The Governor, bishop, and three
magistrates met to overawe the insurgents, but the determined rescuers
tore up the pickets enclosing the prison yard, broke open the jail, and
made the prisoner a free man.

Such insubordination and tumult marked the decline of the Company's
power as a governing body. This lawlessness was no doubt stimulated
by the establishment of a newspaper in 1859--_The Nor'-Wester_--which
from the first was hostile to the Company. The system of government by
the Council of Assiniboia had always been a vulnerable point in the
management by the Company, and the newspaper constantly fanned the
spirit of discontent. In the year 1868, when the Hudson Bay Company
régime was approaching its end, another violent and disturbing affair
took place. This was the arrest of Dr. Schultz, a Canadian leader of
great bodily strength and determination, who had thrown in his lot with
the Red River people. As a result of a business dispute, Schultz was
proceeded against in the Court, and an order issued for seizure of his
goods. On his resisting the sheriff in the execution of his duty, he
was, after a severe struggle, overpowered, taken captive, and confined
in Fort Garry jail.

On the following day the wife of Dr. Schultz and some fifteen men
forcibly entered the prison, overpowered the guards, and, breaking open
his cell, rescued the redoubtable doctor. Hargrave says, "This done, the
party adjourned along with him to his house, where report says, 'They
made a night of it.'"

These events represented the decadence of the Company's rule; they
indicated the rise of new forces that were to compel a change; and
however harmful to those immediately involved they declared unmistakably
that the old order changeth, giving place to new.

Typical of his times, there sat through the court scenes of these
troublous days the old "clerk of court and council," William Robert
Smith. With long grey beard he held his post, and was the genius of
the place. He was the Nestor of Red River. A Bluecoat boy from London,
he had come from school far back in 1813, to enter on the fur trade
in Rupert's Land. At Oxford House, Ile à la Crosse, Little Slave
Lake, and Norway House, he served eleven faithful years as a clerk,
when he retired and became a settler of Red River. He was the first
to settle near Lower Fort Garry, and named the spot "Little Britain,"
from one of his old London localities. Farming, teaching, catechizing
for the church, acting precentor, a local encyclopædia, and collector
of Customs, he passed his versatile life, till, the year before the
Sayer _émeute_, he became Clerk of Court, which place, with slight
interruption, he held for twenty years. How remarkable to think of the
man of all work, the Company's factotum, reaching in his experience from
the beginning to well-nigh the ending of the Selkirk settlement! One who
knew him says, "From his long residence in the settlement he has seen
governors, judges, bishops, and clergymen, not to mention such birds
of passage as the Company's local officers, who come and go, himself
remaining to record their doings to their successors."


(_See_ Appendix G. for names.)]



     Renewal of licence--Labouchere's letter--Canada claims
     to Pacific Ocean--Commissioner Chief-Justice Draper--Rests on
     Quebec Act, 1774--Quebec overlaps Indian territories--Company
     loses Vancouver Island--Cauchon's memorandum--Committee of
     1857--Company on trial--A brilliant committee--Four hundred folios
     of evidence--To transfer Red River and Saskatchewan--Death of Sir
     George--Governor Dallas--A cunning scheme--Secret negotiations--The
     Watkin Company floated--Angry winterers--Dallas's soothing
     circular--The old order still--Ermatinger's letters--McDougall's
     resolutions--Cartier and McDougall as delegates--Company accepts
     the terms.

As is well known to those who have followed the history of the Hudson's
Bay Company, while the possession of Rupert's Land was secured by
charter, the territory outside Rupert's Land was secured to the Company
by licence. This licence ended every twenty-one years. The licence in
force at the time of the troubles which have been described was to
terminate in 1859. Accordingly, three or four years before this date,
as their Athabasca, New Caledonia, and British Columbia possessions had
become of great value to them, the Company with due foresight approached
the British Government with a request for the renewal of their tenure.
Men of understanding on both sides of the Atlantic saw the possible
danger of a refusal to their request, on account of the popular ferment
which had taken place both in Red River and British Columbia. Others
thought the time had come for ending the power of the Company.

Sir Henry Labouchere, Secretary of State for the Colonies, entered into
correspondence with Sir Edmund Head, Governor-General of Canada, on the
subject. Anxious about the state of things in every part of the Empire
as the Colonial Office always is, the turbulence and defiance of law
in Red River settlement called for special attention. Accordingly the
Governor-General was informed that it was the intention of the Home
Government to have, not only the question of the licence discussed, but
also the "general position and prospects" of the Company considered,
by a Committee of the House of Commons. The Canadian Government was
therefore cordially invited to have its views, as well as those of the
Canadian community, represented before the Committee.

This invitation was the thing for which Canada had been waiting. A
despatch was sent by the Canadian Government, in less than seven weeks
from the time when the invitation left Downing Street, accepting the
proposal of the Mother Country. The Canadian Ministry was pleased
that British-American affairs were receiving such prominent notice in
England. It suggested the importance of determining the limits of Canada
on the side towards Rupert's Land, and went on to state that the general
opinion strongly held in the New World was "that the western boundary of
Canada extends to the Pacific Ocean." Reference is made to the danger of
complications arising with the United States, and the statement advanced
that the "question of the jurisdiction and title claimed by the Hudson's
Bay Company is to Canada of paramount importance."

In 1857 Chief Justice Draper crossed to Great Britain as Canadian
representative, with a very wide commission to advance Canadian
interests. He was called before the Committee appointed by the House of
Commons, and answered nearly two hundred questions relating to Canada
and to the Hudson's Bay Company interests in Rupert's Land and beyond.
The capable and active-minded Chief Justice kept before the Committee
these points:--

(1) What he conceived to be the true western boundary of Canada, and in
so doing gave his opinion, based on the Quebec Act of 1774, that Canada
should be allowed to extend to the Rocky Mountains and should have the
privilege of exploring and building roads in that region.

(2) The earnest desire of the Canadian people that Rupert's Land and the
Indian territories should be maintained as British territory.

(3) That Canada should be allowed to extend her settlements into these

Chief Justice Draper argued his case with great clearness and cogency,
and made an excellent impression upon the Committee.

The matter of the Company's hold on Vancouver Island seems to have been
settled without any great difficulty. Mr. Richard Blanshard, the former
Governor, who received so cool a reception in Vancouver Island, gave a
plain and unvarnished tale. The Company had evidently made up its mind
to surrender all its claims to Vancouver Island. And the island, as we
have seen, became independent.

Canada entered with great spirit into the case presented before the
Committee. The question of the licence was quite overshadowed by the
wider discussion covering the validity of the Hudson's Bay Company
charter, the original boundary line of the province of Canada, and
the manner in which the Company had carried out its responsibilities.
An industrious minister of the Canadian Government, Hon. Joseph
Cauchon, with true Gallic fire and a French Canadian spirit, prepared
a memorandum of a most elaborate kind on the Hudson's Bay Company's
claim and status. In this, Mr. Cauchon goes back to the earliest times,
shows the limits of occupation by the French explorers, follows down the
line of connection established by the North-West traders, deals with
the troubles of Lord Selkirk, and concludes that the Red River and the
Saskatchewan are not within the limits of the Company's charter. This
vigorous writer then deals with the Treaty of Paris, the Quebec Act, and
the discoveries of Canadian subjects as giving Canada a Jurisdiction
even to the Rocky Mountains.

As might have been expected, the Committee of 1857 became a famous one.
The whole economy of the Company was discussed. The ground gone over by
Isbister and others during the preceding decade supplied the members
with material, and the proceedings of the Committee became notable
for their interest. The Committee held eighteen meetings, examined
twenty-nine witnesses, and thoroughly sifted the evidence.

The _personnel_ of the Committee was brilliant. The Secretary of State
was Chairman. Mr. Roebuck and Mr. Gladstone represented the inquiring
and aggressive element. Lord Stanley and Lord John Russell added their
experience, Edward Ellice--"the Old Bear"--watched the case for the
Company, and Mr. Lowe and Sir John Pakington took a lively interest
in the proceedings and often interposed. Altogether the Committee was
constituted for active service, and every nook and cranny of Rupert's
Land and the adjoining territories was thoroughly investigated.

Among the witnesses was the distinguished Governor Simpson. He was at
his best. Mr. Roebuck and he had many a skirmish, and although Sir
George was often driven into a corner, yet with surprising agility
he recovered himself. Old explorers such as John Ross, Dr. Rae, Col.
Lefroy, Sir John Richardson, Col. Crofton, Bishop Anderson, Col.
Caldwell, and Dr. King, gave information as to having visited Rupert's
Land at different periods. Their evidence was fair, with, as could
be expected in most cases, a "good word" for the Company. Rev. Mr.
Corbett gave testimony against the Company, Governor Blanshard in the
same strain, A. K. Isbister, considerably moderated in his opposition,
gave evidence as a native who had travelled in the country, while John
McLoughlin, a rash and heady agitator, told of the excitement in Red
River settlement. Edward Ellice became a witness as well as a member of
the Committee, and with adroitness covered the retreat of any of his
witnesses when necessity arose.

From time to time, from February to the end of July, the Committee met,
and gathered a vast amount of evidence, making four hundred pages of
printed matter. It is a thesaurus of Hudson's Bay Company material.
It revealed not only the localities of this unknown land to England
and the world, but made everyone familiar with the secret methods,
devices, and working of the fur trade over a space of well-nigh half a
continent. The Committee decided to recommend to Parliament that it is
"important to meet the just and reasonable wishes of Canada to assume
such territory as may be useful for settlement; that the districts of
the Red River and the Saskatchewan seem the most available; and that
for the order and good government of the country," arrangements should
be made for their cession to Canada. It was also agreed that those
regions where settlement is impossible be left to the exclusive control
of the Hudson's Bay Company for the fur trade. The Committee not only
recommended that Vancouver Island should be made independent, but that
the territory of the mainland in British Columbia should be united with

Four years after the sitting of this Committee, which gave such anxiety
to the Hudson's Bay Company, Sir George Simpson, after a very short
illness, passed away, having served as Governor for forty years. In an
earlier chapter his place and influence have been estimated and his
merits and defects shown.

Sir George, in his high office as Governor of Rupert's Land, was
succeeded by A. J. Dallas, a Scottish merchant, who had been in
business in China, had retired, and afterwards acted as Chief Factor
of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Victoria, in Vancouver Island, and
had then married the daughter of Governor James Douglas. Dallas had
shown great nerve and judgment in British Columbia, in a serious brush
with the United States authorities in 1859. Three years after this
event he was called to succeed the great Governor of Rupert's Land.
On his appointment to this high position, he took up his residence at
Fort Garry, and had, in conjunction with the local Governor, William
McTavish, to face the rising tide of dissatisfaction which showed itself
in the Corbett and Stewart rescues. Writers of the period state that
Dallas lacked the dignity and tact of old Sir George. In his letters,
however, Governor Dallas shows that he thoroughly appreciated the
serious state of matters. He says: "I have had great difficulty in
persuading the magistrates to continue to act. Mr. William McTavish,
Governor of Assiniboia, has resigned his post." Governor Dallas says he
"finds himself with all the responsibility and semblance of authority
over a vast territory, but unsupported, if not ignored, by the Crown."
He states that people do not object to the _personnel_ of the Hudson's
Bay Company government, but to the "system of government." He fears the
formation of a provisional government, and a movement for annexation to
the United States, which had been threatened. He is of opinion that the
"territorial right should revert to the Crown." These are strong, honest
words for an official of the Company whose rule had prevailed for some
two centuries.

And now Governor Dallas appears co-operating in an ingenious and adroit
financial scheme with Mr. E. W. Watkin, a member of the British House
of Commons, by which the Hudson's Bay Company property changed hands.
Edward Watkin was a financial agent, who had much to do with the Grand
Trunk Railway of Canada, and had an intimate knowledge of Canadian
affairs. He had succeeded in interesting the Colonial Secretary of
State, the Duke of Newcastle, in a railway, road, and telegraphic scheme
for connecting the British possessions in North America.

Difficulties having arisen in inducing staid old Governor Berens, the
London head of the Company, to accept modern ideas, a plan was broached
of buying out the whole Hudson's Bay Company possessions and rights.
Difficulty after difficulty was met and surmounted, and though many a
time the scheme seemed hopeless, yet in the end it succeeded, though not
without much friction and heart-burning. Watkin describes graphically
the first interview between three members of the Hudson's Bay Company,
Berens, Eden Colville, and Lyall, of the first part, and Glynn,
Newmarch, himself, and three other capitalists of the second part.
The meeting took place in the Hudson's Bay Company House, Fenchurch
Street, February 1st, 1862. "The room was the 'Court' room, dark and
dirty, faded green cloth, old chairs almost black, and a fine picture of
Prince Rupert. Governor Berens, an old man and obstinate, was somewhat
insulting in his manner. We took it patiently." It was a day of fate for
the old Company.

Many interviews afterwards took place between Watkin and the accountant
and solicitors of the Company. The Company would hear of no dealings,
except on the basis of a cash payment. The men of capital accordingly
succeeded in interesting the "International Financial Association," a
new corporation looking for some great scheme to lay before the public.

At length the whole shares, property, and rights of the Hudson's Bay
Company were taken over, the final arrangements being made by Mr.
Richard Potter on June 1st, 1863. Thus the Company begun in so small a
way by Prince Rupert and his associates nearly two centuries before,
sold out, and the purchase money of one and a half millions of pounds
was paid over the counter to the old Company by the new Association.

A new company was now to be organized whose stock would be open for
purchase, and the International Association would, on such organization
being formed, hand over the Company's assets to the new stockholders.
In a short time the Company was reconstituted, Sir Edmund Head being
the new Governor, with, as prominent members of the Board of Directors,
Richard Potter, Eden Colville, E. B. Watkin, and an American fur trader
of experience, Sir Curtis Lampson.

Secretly as the negotiations for the formation of a new company had been
conducted, the news of the affair reached Canada and Rupert's Land,
and led to anxious inquiries being made and to a memorial from the
Company's officers being presented to the Board of Directors asking for
information. So thoroughly secret had the interviews between the London
parties been carried on that the officials of the London office knew
nothing of them, and stated in their reply to the memorialists that the
rumours were incorrect. In July, when the transfer had been consummated
and the news of it appeared in the public press, it created surprise and
indignation among the chief factors and chief traders, who, under the
deed poll or Company arrangement which had been adopted in 1821, though
somewhat modified thirteen years later, had been regarded as having
certain partnership rights in the Company.

Mr. Edward Watkin informs us, in his interesting "Reminiscences," that
he had intended that the "wintering partners," as the officers in
Rupert's Land were called, should have been individually communicated
with, but that on account of his hasty departure to Canada the matter
had been overlooked. It certainly was irritating to the officers of
the fur trade to learn for the first time from the public press of an
arrangement being perfected involving their whole private interests.

Watkin expresses his great apprehension lest the news in a distorted
form should reach the distant regions of the fur country, where the
Company had one hundred and forty-four posts, covering the continent
from Labrador to Sitka, Vancouver Island and San Francisco. He feared
also that there would be a new company formed to occupy the ground with
the old.

On reaching Canada, Mr. Watkin was agreeably surprised at the arrival
of Governor Dallas from Red River in Montreal. After consultation it
was decided on that the Governor should send a conciliatory circular
to the commissioned officers of the Company, explaining the objects of
the new Company, and stating that all the interests of the wintering
partners would be conserved. It is evident that the attitude of the
officers had alarmed even such stout-hearted men as Watkin and Dallas.
There lies before the writer also a personal letter, dated London, July
23rd, 1863, signed by Edmund Head, Governor, to a chief trader of the
Company, stating that it was the intention of the Committee "to carry on
the fur trade as it has been hitherto carried on, under the provisions
of the deed poll." None of the collateral objects of the Company "should
interfere with the fur trade." He begs the officers to "have with him
free and unreserved communication through the usual channel." Evidently
the echo of the angry voices in Athabasca had been heard in London.

The old deed poll, which they had intended to suspend, as shown by
Watkin, was thus preserved. This document secured them as follows:
According to both deed polls of 1821 and 1834, forty per cent. of the
net profits of the trade, divided into eighty-five shares of equal
amount, were distributed annually among the wintering partners of the
Company. A chief trader received an eighty-fifth share of the profits,
and a chief factor two eighty-fifth shares. Both had certain rights
after retiring.

The proposed abolition of these terms of the deed poll and the
substitution therefor of certain salaries with the avowed purpose of
reducing the expenses, of course meant loss to every wintering partner.
The interests thus involved justified the most strenuous opposition on
the part of the partners, and, unless the proposal were modified, would
almost certainly have led to a disruption of the Company.

In harmony with Governor Head's circular letter no action in the
direction contemplated was taken until 1871, when, on the receipt of
the three hundred thousand pounds voted by Canada to the Company, the
sum of one hundred and seven thousand and fifty-five pounds was applied
to buying out the vested rights of the wintering partners, and the
agitation was quieted.

The effect of the arrangement made for the payment of officers of the
Company since 1871, as compared with their previous remuneration, has
been a subject of discussion.

There lies before the writer an elaborate calculation by an old Hudson's
Bay Company officer to the effect that under the old deed poll a chief
factor would receive two eighty-fifth shares, his total average being
seven hundred and twenty pounds per annum; and under the new (taking
the average of twenty-five years) two and one half-hundredths shares,
amounting to five hundred and thirty-two pounds annually, or a loss
nearly of one hundred and eighty-eight pounds; similarly that a chief
trader would receive three hundred and nineteen pounds, as against three
hundred and sixty formerly, or a loss per annum of forty-one pounds.

Besides this, the number of higher commissioned officers was reduced
when the old deed poll was cancelled, so that the stockholders received
the advantage from there being fewer officials, also the chances of
promotion to higher offices were diminished.

During the progress of these internal dissensions of the Hudson's Bay
Company public opinion had been gradually maturing in Canada in favour
of acquiring at least a portion of Rupert's Land. At the time of the
Special Committee of 1857, it will be remembered the Hind-Gladman
expedition had gone to spy out the land. A company, called the
North-West Transportation Company, was about the same time organized in
Toronto to carry goods and open communication from Fort William by way
of the old fur traders' route to Fort Garry.

The merits and demerits of the north-western prairies were discussed
in the public press of Canada. Edward Ermatinger, whose name has been
already mentioned, was a steady supporter of the claim of the Hudson's
Bay Company in a series of well-written letters in the _Hamilton
Spectator_, a journal of Upper Canada. Taking the usual line of argument
followed by the Company, he showed the small value of the country, its
inhospitable climate, its inaccessibility, and magnified the legal
claim of the Hudson's Bay Company against the Canadian contention.
It is amusing to read in after years, when his opinion of Sir George
Simpson was changed, his declaration of regret at having been led to so
strenuously present his views in the _Spectator_.

Ten years had passed after the setting of the great Committee of 1857,
and nothing practical as to the transfer of the country to Canada had
been accomplished. The confederation movement had now widened the
horizon of Canadian public men. In the very year of the confederation
of the Canadian provinces (1867), Hon. William McDougall, who had been
a persistent advocate of the Canadian claim to the North-West, moved in
the Dominion Parliament a series of resolutions, which were carried.
These resolutions showed the advantage, both to Canada and the Empire,
of the Dominion being extended to the Pacific Ocean; that settlement,
commerce, and development of the resources of the country are dependent
on a stable Government being established; that the welfare of the
Red River settlers would be enhanced by this means; that provision
was contained in the British North-American Act for the admission of
Rupert's Land and the North-West territory to the Dominion; that this
wide country should be united to Canada; that in case of union the legal
rights of any corporation, as the Hudson's Bay Company, association, or
individual should be respected; that this should be settled judicially
or by agreement; that the Indian title should be legally extinguished;
and that an address be made to Her Majesty to this effect. The
resolutions were carried by a large majority of the House. This was a
bold and well-conceived step, and the era of discussion and hesitancy
seemed to have passed away in favour of a policy of action.

The Hudson's Bay Company, however, insisted on an understanding being
come to as to terms before giving consent to the proposed action, and a
despatch to the Dominion Government from Her Majesty's Government called
attention to this fact. As soon as convenient, a delegation, consisting
of Hon. George E. Cartier and Hon. William McDougall, proceeded to
England to negotiate with the Company as to terms. The path of the
delegates on reaching England proved a thorny one. The attitude of the
Imperial Government was plainly in favour of recognizing some legal
value in the chartered rights of the Company, a thing denied by some,
specially Mr. McDougall. No progress was being made. At this juncture
D'Israeli's Government was defeated, and a delay resulted in waiting for
a new Government. Earl Granville was the new Secretary of State for the
Colonies. While negotiations were going on, the Hudson's Bay Company
sent in to the Secretary of State a rather hot complaint that Canadian
surveyors and road builders had entered upon their territory to the west
of the Lake of the Woods. This was quite true, but the action had been
taken by the Canadian Government under the impression that all parties
would willingly agree to it. Not being at this juncture able to settle
anything, the commissioners returned to Canada.

The Imperial Government was, however, in earnest in the matter, and
pressed the Hudson's Bay Company to consent to reasonable terms,
the more that the government by the Company in Red River was not
satisfactory--an indisputable fact. At length the Company felt bound to
accept the proposed terms. The main provisions of bargain were that the
Company should surrender all rights in Rupert's Land; that Canada pay
the Company the sum of three hundred thousand pounds; that the Company
be allowed certain blocks of land around their posts; that they be given
one-twentieth of the arable land of the country; and that the Company
should be allowed every privilege in carrying on trade as a regular
trading company. Thus was the concession of generous Charles the Second
surrendered after two centuries of honourable occupation.



     Transfer Act passed--A moribund government--The
     Canadian surveying party--Causes of the rebellion--Turbulent
     Metis--American interference--Disloyal ecclesiastics--Governor
     McDougall--Riel and his rebel band--A blameworthy Governor--The
     "blawsted fence"--Seizure of Fort Garry--Riel's ambitions--Loyal
     rising--Three wise men from the East--_The New Nation_--A
     winter meeting--Bill of Rights--Canadian shot--The Wolseley
     expedition--Three renegades slink away--The end of Company
     rule--The new Province of Manitoba.

The old Company had agreed to the bargain, and the Imperial Act was
passed authorizing the transfer of the vast territory east of the Rocky
Mountains to Canada. Canada, with the strengthening national spirit
rising from the young confederation, with pleasure saw the Dominion
Government place in the estimates the three hundred thousand pounds
for the payment of the Hudson's Bay Company, and an Act was passed by
the Dominion Parliament providing for a government of the north-west
territories, which would secure the administration of justice, and the
peace, order, and good government of Her Majesty's subjects and others.
It was enacted, however, that all laws of the territory at the time of
the passing of the Act should remain in force until amended or repealed,
and all officers except the chief to continue in office until others
were appointed.

And now began the most miserable and disreputable exhibition of
decrepitude, imbecility, jesuitry, foreign interference, blundering, and
rash patriotism ever witnessed in the fur traders' country. This was
known as the Red River rebellion. The writer arrived in Fort Garry the
year following this wretched affair, made the acquaintance of many of
the actors in the rebellion, and heard their stories. The real, deep
significance of this rebellion has never been fully made known. Whether
the writer will succeed in telling the whole tale remains to be seen.

The Hudson's Bay Company officials at Red River were still the
government. This fact must be distinctly borne in mind. It has been
stated, however, that this government had become hopelessly weak and
inefficient. Governor Dallas, in the words quoted, admitted this and
lamented over it. Were there any doubt in regard to this statement, it
was shown by the utter defiance of the law in the breaking of jail in
the three cases of Corbett, Stewart, and Dr. Schultz. No government
could retain respect when the solemn behests of its courts were laughed
at and despised. This is the real reason lying at the root of the
apathy of the English-speaking people of the Red River in dealing with
the rebellion. They were not cowards; they sprang from ancestors who
had fought Britain's battles; they were intelligent and moral; they
loved their homes and were prepared to defend them; but they had no
guarantee of leadership; they had no assurance that their efforts would
be given even the colour of legality; the broken-down jail outside
Fort Garry, its uprooted stockades and helpless old jailor, were the
symbol of governmental decrepitude and were the sport of any determined

It has been the habit of their opponents to refer to the annoyance
of the Hudson's Bay Company Committee in London with Canada for in
1869 sending surveyors to examine the country before the transfer was
made. Reference has also been made to the dissatisfaction of the local
officers at the action taken by the Company in dealing with the deed
poll in 1863; some have said that the Hudson's Bay Company officials
at Fort Garry did not admire the Canadian leaders as they saw them;
and others have maintained that these officers cared nothing for the
country, provided they received large enough dividends as wintering


  From sketch by wife of Governor Finlayson.


  X Spot where Scott was executed.


Now, there may be something in these contentions, but they do not touch
the core of the matter. The Hudson's Bay Company, both in London and
Fort Garry, were thoroughly loyal to British institutions; the officers
were educated, responsible, and high-minded men; they had acted up to
their light in a thoroughly honourable manner, and no mere prejudice, or
fancied grievance, or personal dislike would have made them untrue to
their trusts. But the government had become decrepit; vacillation and
uncertainty characterized every act; had the people been behind them,
had they not felt that the people distrusted them, they would have taken
action, as it was their duty to do.

The chronic condition of helplessness and governmental decay was
emphasized and increased by a sad circumstance. Governor William
McTavish, an honourable and well-meaning man, was sick. In the midst
of the troubles of 1863 he would willingly have resigned, as Governor
Dallas assures us; now he was physically incapable of the energy and
decision requisite under the circumstances. Moreover, as we shall
see, there was a most insidious and dangerous influence dogging his
every step. His subordinates would not act without him, he could not
act without them, and thus an absolute deadlock ensued. Moreover, the
Council of Assiniboia, an appointed body, had felt itself for years
out of touch with the sentiment of the colony, and its efforts at
legislation resulted in no improvement of the condition of things. Woe
to a country ruled by an oligarchy, however well-meaning or reputable
such a body may be!

Turn now from this picture of pitiful weakness to the unaccountable and
culpable blundering of the Canadian Government. Cartier and McDougall
found out in England that sending in a party of surveyors before the
country was transferred was offensive to the Hudson's Bay Company. More
offensive still was the method of conducting the expedition. It was a
mark of sublime stupidity to profess, as the Canadian Government did,
to look upon the money spent on this survey as a benevolent device for
relieving the people suffering from the grasshopper visitation. The
genius who originated the plan of combining charity with gain should
have been canonized. Moreover, the plan of contractor Snow of paying
poor wages, delaying payment, and giving harsh treatment to such a
people as the half-breeds are known to be was most ill advised. The
evidently selfish and grasping spirit shown in this expedition sent to
survey and build the Dawson Road, yet turning aside to claim unoccupied
lands, to sow the seeds of doubt and suspicion in the minds of a people
hitherto secluded from the world, was most unpatriotic and dangerous.
It cannot be denied, in addition, that while many of the small band
of Canadians were reputable and hard-working men, the course of a few
prominent leaders, who had made an illegitimate use of the Nor'-Wester
newspaper, had tended to keep the community in a state of alienation and

What, then, were the conditions? A helpless, moribund government,
without decision, without actual authority on the one hand, and on
the other an irritating, selfish, and aggressive expedition, taking
possession of the land before it was transferred to Canada, and assuming
the air of conquerors.

Look now at the combustible elements awaiting this combination. The
French half-breeds, descendants of the turbulent Bois Brûlés of Lord
Selkirk's times; the old men, companions of Sayer and the elder Riel,
who defied the authority of the court, and left it shouting, "Vive
la liberté!" now irritated by the Dawson Road being built in the way
just described; the road running through the seigniory given by Lord
Selkirk to the Roman Catholic bishop, the road in rear of their largest
settlements, and passing through another French settlement at Pointe des
Chênes! Further, the lands adjacent to these settlements, and naturally
connected with them, being seized by the intruders! Furthermore, the
natives, antagonized by the action of certain Canadians who had for
years maintained the country in a state of turmoil! Were there not all
the elements of an explosion of a serious and dangerous kind?

Two other most important forces in this complicated state of things
cannot be left out. The first of these is a matter which requires
careful statement, but yet it is a most potential factor in the
rebellion. This is the attitude of certain persons in the United States.
For twenty years and more the trade of the Red River settlement had been
largely carried on by way of St. Paul, in the State of Minnesota. The
Hudson Bay route and York boat brigade were unable to compete with the
facilities offered by the approach of the railway to the Mississippi
River. Accordingly long lines of Red River carts took loads of furs to
St. Paul and brought back freight for the Company. The Red River trade
was a recognized source of profit in St. Paul. Familiarity in trade led
to an interest on the part of the Americans in the public affairs of Red
River. Hot-headed and sordid people in Red River settlement had actually
spoken of the settlement being connected with the United States.

Now that irritation was manifested at Red River, steps were taken by
private parties from the United States to fan the flame. At Pembina, on
the border between Rupert's Land and the United States, lived a nest
of desperadoes willing to take any steps to accomplish their purposes.
They had access to all the mails which came from England to Canada
marked "Vià Pembina." Pembina was an outpost refuge for law-breakers
and outcasts from the United States. Its people used all their power to
disturb the peace of Red River settlement. In addition, a considerable
number of Americans had come to the little village of Winnipeg, now
being begun near the walls of Fort Garry. These men held their private
meetings, all looking to the creation of trouble and the provocation of
feeling that might lead to change of allegiance. Furthermore, the writer
is able to state, on the information of a man high in the service of
Canada, and a man not unknown in Manitoba, that there was a large sum
of money, of which an amount was named as high as one million dollars,
which was available in St. Paul for the purpose of securing a hold by
the Americans on the fertile plains of Rupert's Land.

Here, then, was an agency of most dangerous proportions, an element
in the village of Winnipeg able to control the election of the first
delegate to the convention, a desperate body of men on the border, who
with Machiavelian persistence fanned the flame of discontent, and a
reserve of power in St. Paul ready to take advantage of any emergency.

A still more insidious and threatening influence was at work. Here
again the writer is aware of the gravity of the statement he is making,
but he has evidence of the clearest kind for his position. A dangerous
religious element in the country--ecclesiastics from old France--who
had no love for Britain, no love for Canada, no love for any country,
no love for society, no love for peace! These plotters were in close
association with the half-breeds, dictated their policy, and freely
mingled with the rebels. One of them was an intimate friend of the
leader of the rebellion, consulted with him in his plans, and exercised
a marked influence on his movements. This same foreign priest, with
Jesuitical cunning, gave close attendance on the sick Governor, and
through his family exercised a constant and detrimental power upon
the only source of authority then in the land. Furthermore, an Irish
student and teacher, with a Fenian hatred of all things British, was a
"familiar" of the leader of the rebellion, and with true Milesian zeal
advanced the cause of the revolt.

Can a more terrible combination be imagined than this? A decrepit
government with the executive officer sick; a rebellious and chronically
dissatisfied Metis element; a government at Ottawa far removed by
distance, committing with unvarying regularity blunder after blunder;
a greedy and foreign cabal planning to seize the country, and a secret
Jesuitical plot to keep the Governor from action and to incite the fiery
Metis to revolt!

The drama opens with the appointment, in September, 1869, by
the Dominion Government, of the Hon. William McDougall as
Lieutenant-Governor of the north-west territories, his departure from
Toronto, and his arrival at Pembina, in the Dakota territory, in the
end of October. He was accompanied by his family, a small staff, and
three hundred stand of arms with ammunition. He had been preceded by
the Hon. Joseph Howe, of the Dominion Government, who visited the Red
River settlement ostensibly to feel the pulse of public opinion, but as
Commissioner gaining little information. Mr. McDougall's commission as
Governor was to take effect after the formal transfer of the territory.
He reached Pembina, where he was served with a notice not to enter
the territory, yet he crossed the boundary line at Pembina, and took
possession of the Hudson's Bay Fort of West Lynn, two miles north of the

Meanwhile a storm was brewing along Red River. A young French
half-breed, Louis Riel, son of the excitable miller of the Seine of whom
mention was made--a young man, educated by the Roman Catholic Bishop
Taché, of St. Boniface, for a time, and afterwards in Montreal, was
regarded as the hope of the Metis. He was a young man of fair ability,
but proud, vain, and assertive, and had the ambition to be a Cæsar or
Napoleon. He with his followers had stopped the surveyors in their work,
and threatened to throw off the approaching tyranny. Professing to be
loyal to Britain but hostile to Canada, he succeeded, in October, in
getting a small body of French half-breeds to seize the main highway at
St. Norbert, some nine miles south of Fort Garry.

The message to Mr. McDougall not to enter the territory was forwarded by
this body, that already considered itself the _de facto_ government. A
Canadian settler at once swore an affidavit before the officer in charge
of Fort Garry that an armed party of French half-breeds had assembled to
oppose the entrance of the Governor.

Here, then, was the hour of destiny. An outbreak had taken place, it was
illegal to oppose any man entering the country, not to say a Governor,
the fact of revolt was immediately brought to Fort Garry, and no amount
of casuistry or apology can ever justify Governor McTavish, sick though
he was, from immediately not taking action, and compelling his council
to take action by summoning the law-abiding people to surround him and
repress the revolt. But the government that would allow the defiance of
the law by permitting men to live at liberty who had broken jail could
not be expected to take action. To have done so would have been to work
a miracle.

The rebellion went on apace; two of the so-called Governor's staff
pushed on to the barricade erected at St. Norbert. Captain Cameron,
one of them, with eyeglass in poise, and with affected authority,
gave command, "Remove that blawsted fence," but the half-breeds were
unyielding. The two messengers returned to Pembina, where they found Mr.
McDougall likewise driven back and across the boundary. Did ever British
prestige suffer a more humiliating blow?

The act of rebellion, usually dangerous, proved in this case a trivial
one, and Riel's little band of forty or fifty badly-armed Metis began
to grow. The mails were seized, freight coming into the country became
booty, and the experiment of a rising was successful. In the meantime
the authorities of Fort Garry were inactive. The rumour came that Riel
thought of seizing the fort. An affidavit of the chief of police under
the Government shows that he urged the master of Fort Garry to meet the
danger, and asked authority to call upon a portion of the special police
force sworn in, shortly before, to preserve the peace. No Governor
spoke; no one even closed the fort as a precaution; its gates stood wide
open to friend or foe.

This exhibition of helplessness encouraged the conspirators, and
Riel and one hundred of his followers (November 2nd) unopposed took
possession of the fort and quartered themselves upon the Company. In
the front part of the fort lived the Governor; he was now flanked by a
body-guard of rebels; the master of the fort, a burly son of Britain,
though very gruff and out of sorts, could do nothing, and the young
Napoleon of the Metis fattened on the best of the land.

Riel now issued a proclamation, calling on the English-speaking parishes
of the settlement to elect twelve representatives to meet the President
and representatives of the French-speaking population, appointing a
meeting for twelve days afterwards.

Mr. McDougall, on hearing of the seizure of the fort, wrote to
Governor McTavish stating that as the Hudson Bay Company was still the
government, action should be taken to disperse the rebels. A number
of loyal inhabitants also petitioned Governor McTavish to issue his
proclamation calling on the rebels to disperse. The sick and helpless
Governor, fourteen days after the seizure of the fort and twenty-three
days after the affidavit of the rising, issued a tardy proclamation
condemning the rebels and calling upon them to disperse. The Convention
met November 16th, the English parishes having been cajoled into
electing delegates, thinking thus to soothe the troubled land. After
meeting and discussing in hot and useless words the state of affairs,
the Convention adjourned till December 1st, it being evident, however,
that Riel desired to form a provisional government of which he should be
the joy and pride.

The day for the reassembling of the Convention arrived. Riel and his
party insisted on ruling the meeting, and passed a "Bill of Rights"
consisting of fifteen provisions. The English people refused to accept
these propositions, and, after vainly endeavouring to take steps to meet
Mr. McDougall, withdrew to their homes, ashamed and confounded.

Meanwhile Mr. McDougall was chafing at the strange and humiliating
situation in which he found himself. With his family and staff poorly
housed at Pembina and the severe winter coming on, he could scarcely
be blamed for irritation and discontent. December 1st was the day on
which he expected his commission as Governor to come into effect,
and wonder of wonders, he, a lawyer, a privy councillor, and an
experienced statesman, went so far on this mere supposition as to issue
a proclamation announcing his appointment as Governor. As a matter of
fact, far away from communication with Ottawa, he was mistaken as to
the transfer. On account of the rise of the rebellion this had not
been made, and Mr. McDougall, in issuing a spurious proclamation,
became a thing of contempt to the insurgents, an object of pity to the
loyalists, and the laughing-stock of the whole world. His proclamation
at the same time authorizing Colonel Dennis, the Canadian surveyor in
Red River settlement, to raise a force to put down the rebellion, was
simply a _brutum fulmen_, and was the cause to innocent, well-meaning
men of trouble and loss. Colonel Dennis succeeded in raising a force
of some four hundred men, and would not probably have failed had it
not transpired that the two proclamations were illegal and that the
levies were consequently unauthorized. Such a thing to be carried out
by William McDougall and Colonel Dennis, men of experience and ability!
Surely there could be no greater fiasco!

The Canadian people were now in a state of the greatest excitement, and
the Canadian Government, aware of its blundering and stupidity, hastened
to rectify its mistakes. Commissioners were sent to negotiate with
the various parties in Red River settlement. These were Vicar-General
Thibault, who had spent long years in the Roman Catholic Missions of the
North-West, Colonel de Salaberry, a French Canadian, and Mr. Donald A.
Smith, the chief officer of the Hudson's Bay Company, then at Montreal.
On the last of these Commissioners, who had been clothed with very wide
powers, lay the chief responsibility, as will be readily seen.

A number of Canadians--nearly fifty--had been assembled in the store
of Dr. Schultz, at the village of Winnipeg, and, on the failure of Mr.
McDougall's proclamation, were left in a very awkward condition. With
arms in their hands, they were looked upon by Riel as dangerous, and
with promises of freedom and of the intention of Riel to meet McDougall
and settle the whole matter, they (December 7th) surrendered. Safely in
the fort and in the prison outside the wall, the prisoners were kept by
the truce-breaker, and the Metis contingent celebrated the victory by
numerous potations of rum taken from the Hudson's Bay Company stores.

Riel now took a step forward in issuing a proclamation, which has
generally been attributed to the crippled postmaster at Pembina, one of
the dangerous foreign clique longing to seize the settlement. He also
hoisted a new flag, with the fleur-de-lis worked upon it, thus giving
evidence of his disloyalty and impudence. Other acts of injustice, such
as seizing Company funds and interfering with personal liberty, were
committed by him.

On December 27th--a memorable day--Mr. Donald A. Smith arrived. His
commission and papers were left at Pembina, and he went directly to Fort
Garry, where Riel received him. The interview, given in Mr. Smith's
own words, was a remarkable one. Riel vainly sought to induce the
Commissioner to recognize his government, and yet was afraid to show
disrespect to so high and honoured an officer. For about two months
Commissioner Smith lived at Fort Garry, in a part of the same building
as Governor McTavish.

Mr. Smith says of this period, "The state of matters at this time was
most unsatisfactory and truly humiliating. Upwards of fifty British
subjects were held in close confinement as political prisoners; security
for persons or property there was none.... The leaders of the French
half-breeds had declared their determination to use every effort for the
purpose of annexing the territory to the United States."

Mr. Smith acted with great wisdom and decision. His plan evidently
was to have no formal breach with Riel but gradually to undermine him,
and secure a combination by which he could be overthrown. Many of
the influential men of the settlement called upon Mr. Smith, and the
affairs of the country were discussed. Riel was restless and at times
impertinent, but the Commissioner exercised his Scottish caution, and
bided his time.

At this time a newspaper, called _The New Nation_, appeared as the organ
of the provisional government. This paper openly advocated annexation
to the United States, thus showing the really dangerous nature of the
movement embodied in the rebellion.

During all these months of the rebellion, Bishop Taché, the influential
head of the Roman Catholic Church, had been absent in Rome at the
great Council of that year. One of his most active priests left behind
was Father Lestanc, the prince of plotters, who has generally been
credited with belonging to the Jesuit Order. Lestanc had sedulously
haunted the presence of the Governor; he was a daring and extreme man,
and to him and his fellow-Frenchman, the curé of St. Norbert, much of
Riel's obstinacy has been attributed. Commissioner Smith now used his
opportunity to weaken Riel. He offered to send for his commission to
Pembina, if he were allowed to meet the people. Riel consented to this.
The commission was sent for, and Riel tried to intercept the messenger,
but failed to do so. The meeting took place on January 19th. It was a
date of note for Red River settlement. One thousand people assembled,
and as there was no building capable of holding the people, the meeting
took place in the open air, the temperature being twenty below zero.

The outcome of this meeting was the election and subsequent assembling
of forty representatives--one half French, the other half English--to
consider the matter of Commissioner Smith's message. Six days after
the open-air meeting the Convention met. A second "Bill of Rights"
was adopted, and it was agreed to send delegates to Ottawa to meet
the Dominion Government. A provisional government was formed, at the
request, it is said, of Governor McTavish, and Riel gained the height
of his ambition in being made President, while the fledgling Fenian
priest, O'Donoghue, became "Secretary of the Treasury."

The retention of the prisoners in captivity aroused a deep feeling
in the country, and a movement originated in Portage La Prairie to
rescue the unfortunates. This force was joined by recruits at Kildonan,
making up six hundred in all. Awed by this gathering, Riel released
the prisoners, though he was guilty of an act of deepest treachery in
arresting nearly fifty of the Assiniboine levy as they were returning
to their homes. Among them was Major Boulton, who afterwards narrowly
escaped execution, and who has written an interesting account of the

The failure of the two parties of loyalists, and their easy capture by
Riel, raises the question of the wisdom of these efforts. No doubt the
inspiring motive of these levies was in many cases true patriotism, and
it reflects credit on them as men of British blood and British pluck,
but the management of both was so unfortunate and so lacking in skill,
that one is disposed, though lamenting their failures, to put these
expeditions down as dictated by the greatest rashness.

The elevation of Riel served to awaken high ambitions. The late
Archbishop Taché, in a later rebellion, characterized Riel as a
remarkable example of inflated ambition, and called his state of
mind that of "megalomania." Riel now became more irritable and
domineering. He seemed also bitter against the English for the signs
of insubordination appearing in all the parishes. The influence of the
violent and dastardly Lestanc was strong upon him. The anxious President
now determined to awe the English, and condemned for execution a young
Irish Canadian prisoner named Thomas Scott. Commissioner Smith and a
number of influential inhabitants did everything possible to dissuade
Riel, but he persisted, and Scott was publicly executed near Fort Garry
on March 4th, 1870.

"Whom the gods destroy, they first make mad." The execution of Scott
was the death-knell of Riel's hopes. Canada was roused to its centre.
Determined to have no further communication with Riel, Commissioner
Smith as soon as possible left Fort Garry and returned to Canada.

The arrival of Bishop Taché, who had returned at the request of the
Canadian Government, took place in due time. Probably the real attitude
of Bishop Taché will never be known, though his strong French Canadian
associations and love of British connection make it seem hardly possible
that he could have been implicated in the rebellion. Bishop Taché
endeavoured to overcome the terrible mistake of Riel. Commissioners were
despatched to Ottawa, the most important of them Father Ritchot, of St.
Norbert, whose hand had been in the plot from the beginning. Carrying
down a "Bill of Rights" from the provisional government, which, however,
there is clear evidence Ritchot and others took the liberty of altering,
they were instrumental in having a Bill passed through the Dominion
Parliament, establishing Manitoba as a province.

For the establishment of peace, an expedition was organized by Canada,
consisting of British regulars and Canadian volunteers, under Colonel
Wolseley. Coming from Canada up the fur-traders' route, through Lake
of the Woods, down Winnipeg River, across Lake Winnipeg, and up the
Red River, the expedition arrived, to the great joy of the suffering
people of the settlement, on August 24th, 1870. After eleven months of
the most torturing anxiety had been endured, the sight of the rescuing
soldiery sent the blood pulsing again through their veins. As the
troops approached Fort Garry, three slinking figures were seen to leave
the fort and escape across the Assiniboine. These were the "President
Riel," "Adjutant-General" Lepine, and the scoundrel O'Donoghue. "They
folded their tents like the Arabs, and as silently stole away." Colonel
Wolseley says, "The troops then formed line outside the fort, the Union
Jack was hoisted, a royal salute fired, and three cheers were given for
the Queen, which were caught up and heartily re-echoed by many of the
civilians and settlers who had followed the troops from the village."

The transfer of Rupert's Land had been completed, and the governing
power of the famous old Company was a thing of the past.



     A great land Company--Fort Garry dismantled--The new
     buildings--New _v._ Old--New life in the Company--Palmy days
     are recalled--Governors of ability--The present distinguished
     Governor--Vaster operations--Its eye not dimmed.

Relieved of the burden of government, the Hudson's Bay Company threw
itself heartily into the work of developing its resources. Mr. Donald A.
Smith, who had done so much to undermine the power of Riel, returned to
Manitoba as Chief Commissioner of the Company, and proceeded to manage
its affairs in the altered conditions of the country. Representing
enormous interests in the North-West, Mr. Smith entered the first local
legislature at Winnipeg, and soon after became for a time a member of
the Canadian House of Commons. One of the most important matters needing
attention was the land interests of the Company. The Company claimed
five hundred acres around Fort Garry. This great tract of land, covering
now one of the most important parts of the City of Winnipeg, was used
as a camping-ground, where the traders from the far west posts, even as
far as Edmonton, made their "corrals" and camped during their stay at
the capital. Some opposition was developed to this claim, but the block
of land was at length handed over to the Company, fifty acres being
reserved for public purposes.

The allotment of wild land to the Company of one-twentieth went on in
each township as it was surveyed, and though all this land is taxable,
yet it has become a great source of revenue to the Company. Important
sites and parcels of land all over the country have helped to swell its

The great matter of adapting its agencies to meet the changed
conditions of trade was a difficult thing. The methods of two
centuries could not be changed in a day. The greatest difficulty lay in
the officers and men remote from the important centres. It was reported
that in many of the posts no thorough method of book-keeping prevailed.
The dissatisfaction arising from the sale made by the Company in 1863,
and the uncertainty as to the deed poll, no doubt introduced an element
of fault-finding and discontent into the Company's business. Some of
the most trusted officers retired from the service. The resources of
the Company were, however, enormous, its credit being practically
unlimited, and this gave it a great advantage in competing with the
Canadian merchants coming to the country, the majority of whom had
little capital. Ten years after the transfer Fort Garry was sold, and
though it came back on the hands of the Company, yet _miserabile dictu_,
the fort had been dismantled, thrown down, and even the stone removed,
with the exception of the front gate, which still remains. This gate,