Saturday, November 28, 2009

John McIntosh, HBC

Alexander Caulfield Anderson knew many of today's famous historic persons, but not all of them were men to be proud of.
One of the latter was clerk John McIntosh, who crossed the Rocky Mountains with Anderson's leather expedition of winter 1835, and remained in New Caledonia until his death.

According to his biography at HBCA, John McIntosh was born about 1803.
His father, Donald McIntosh, worked for the North West Company, and at its amalgamation with the HBC in 1821, was made Chief Trader.
Governor George Simpson did not have a good opinion of Chief Trader Donald McIntosh, considering him "qualified to cheat an Indian.... but perfectly Sober and honest." (Source: HBCA bio sheet and Simpson's 'Character Book.')
John McIntosh's mother was a Mohawk woman; no fur trader at that time had an English wife.
John began his career as a clerk in 1821 at Fort William (Thunder Bay, Ont.), and was clerk-in-charge at various posts in the Lake Superior District and at Lac La Pluie (Rainy Lake) between 1827 and 1835.
By the time McIntosh met Alexander Anderson at Jasper's House in October 1835, he had a very good opinion of himself.
He was a senior clerk, having clerked in the HBC for fourteen years; he was also the son of a Chief Trader.
In 1835, John McIntosh was about thirty-two years old; Anderson was twenty-one.
Certainly McIntosh considered himself must more important than any of the other men who worked the 1835 Leather party that Anderson commanded.

Anderson's party had reached Jasper's House ten days before the Columbia express and the passengers for the Leather party reached the post.
Anderson picked up sixty packs of leather and five adult passengers, along with McIntosh's wife and children.
Eleven days later the party reached the banks of the Fraser River, but was already short of provisions.
Winter came early with freezing temperatures, and Anderson's canoes froze into the ice of the Fraser River near modern-day McBride, B.C.
They were in serious straits, almost out of food and hundreds of miles from any New Caledonia post.
Twenty-two people, including McIntosh's three small children, walked through the snow toward the safety of Jasper's House, on the east side of the Rocky Mountains.
"After a few days our provisions were entirely exhausted," Anderson wrote. "We expected go to bed supperless, .....but no sooner had the illumination of our newly lit fire spread through the valley, when a neighing was heard, and a fine fat unbroken horse...galloped fearlessly into camp..."
They slaughtered the horse and its meat fed them a few more days.
From hand to mouth they at length reached Jasper's House, two weeks after turning back.
As there were no provisions to spare at Jasper's, they continued their retreat to Edmonton House, at modern-day Edmonton, Alberta.

Anderson returned to New Caledonia by dog-sled, but McIntosh remained at Edmonton House.
In the spring he was dispatched to hunt for meat with a few other men.
They discovered a party of Assiniboine hunters prowling around their horses.
The Assiniboines were noted horse thieves.
The men captured eight Natives and brought them into their camp, where they held a mock court-martial and executed them on the spot.
Anderson wrote that the news of this atrocity caused "a thrill of shame and indignation throughout the country."
When the incoming New Caledonia brigade carrying Betsy Birnie arrived at Fort Alexandria, the clerk noticed that "Mr. Anderson arrives he is cordially rec. by Mr. Ogden with the shake of the hands to both Mr. Ogden & myself but no shake of the Hands to Mr. John McIntosh who was standing by us." (Fort Alexandria post Journals 1837-1839, B.5/a/4, fo. 5b, HBCA)

At that time McIntosh was in charge of the difficult Chilcotin post, but in later years he was at McLeod Lake post.
In July 1844 he was "shot Dead by a Sickanie Indian" and his body disappeared beneath the waters of the lake.
The HBC men suspected that his death was in retiribution for his role in the murder of the party of Assiniboine men years earlier.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this story is what happened to one of his children.
Some of the older boys joined the fur trade and worked at Fort Vancouver.
But Donald returned to Montreal with his mother, and later joined the U.S. Cavalry on frontier duty.
In 1876 Donald McIntosh was part of the first assault when General Custer recklessly led the Seventh Cavalry into the Battle of Little Big Horn against Chief Sitting Bull and his thousands of native warriors.
Lieutenant Donald McIntosh rode in the first charge, and went down when his horse was killed by an arrow in the head.
He grabbed a stray cavalry horse but was wrestled from the saddle and clubbed to death.
Fifteen Canadians were in Custer's Army, but McIntosh was the first of the Canadian members to be killed.
The source of this latter information is from an article in Beaver Magazine, Summer 1976, Custer and the Canadian Connections, by C. Frank Turner.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Betsy Birnie, wife of Alexander Caulfield Anderson

Alexander Caulfield Anderson took charge of the Fraser's Lake post in February 1836.
Not at of Anderson's time at Fraser's Lake was spent in work.
Anderson wrote his first manuscript while he was at Fraser's Lake, and submitted it to his uncle Alex Seton, for publication.
He also wrote letters, business and personal, though it would be months before the correspondence crossed the mountains and a year or more before it reached its destination.
One of the first pieces of personal correspondence he must have sent out was a letter to James Birnie, either asking for his daughter's hand in marriage, or arranging that she come to Fraser's Lake to marry him.
The letter would have left Fraser's Lake with the outgoing brigade in spring 1836, and would have reached Fort Vancouver in mid-summer.
But James Birnie and his family was still posted at Fort Simpson, on the northwest coast; he would never have received the letter, nor been able to respond to it, before the New Caledonia express left Fort Vancouver for Fort St. James.
Birnie could have sent his letter to Anderson by the outgoing spring express through Fort Colvile, hoping that the incoming New Caledonia express men would have carried his letter to Anderson at Fraser's Lake.
We don't know how these two men arranged Anderson's marriage to Birnie's daughter, Betsy.
But in the spring of 1837, Birnie was re-located to Fort George, at the mouth of the Columbia River.
When Peter Skene Ogden arrived at Fort Vancouver with the outgoing express in summer 1837, Betsy Birnie was waiting to go north with the New Caledonia brigade to marry Anderson.
Ogden asked the newly arrived Anglican chaplain, Herbert Beaver, to baptize Betsy Birnie.
The Reverend Beaver had brought his old-country values with him; he despised the Natives to whom he was a missionary and was disgusted by the gentlemen of the fort who lived with Native women.
He considered that Betsy was a young woman "being consigned to a state of concubinage" who had not seen her future husband in four years.
Beaver also argued that she was not acquainted with the principles of religion.
Peter Skene Ogden stated that he would have Betsy baptized by the missionaries at Fort Nez Perce, and that he, a justice of the peace, would perform the marriage ceremony.

Hence, Betsy set out with the incoming New Caledonia brigade, to marry Alexander when the thousand mile journey was complete.
With her travelled her younger brother, Robert, who had been attending school at the Fort Vancouver school.
As the brigade approached the Okanagan region, they heard of native unrest among the Natives of the Okanagan.
Sam Black, chief trader at Fort Kamloops, galloped south on horseback to protect the brigade and meet his good friend, Peter Skene Ogden.
As he galloped down the Okanagan trail, a Native shot his horse out from under him.

In spite of the excitement, there was no trouble, and Betsy Birnie arrived at Fort Alexandria in safety.
A few hours after the New Caledonia brigade came in, Anderson reached the Fort Alexandria post.
Peter Skene Ogden married Anderson and Betsy Birnie on August 21, 1837.
The marriage was probably celebrated with a dram of rum handed out to all men, and a dance that lasted until morning.
Three days later the new bride and groom travelled north with the men and boats of the New Caledonia brigade, to begin their new life at Fraser's Lake.
At her marriage, Betsy exchanged her childhood name for the more formal Eliza, a name far better suited for the wife of a gentleman.
But the name would not stick, and Betsy never became the gentlewoman that Anderson wanted her to be.
In fact, Betsy probably fit in more smoothly at Fraser's Lake than her young husband did; she had far more experience in the fur trade than he had.

Betsy Birnie was born at the North West Company's Fort Spokane in 1822; her father was a Scotsman and her mother French-Canadian and Cree.
Betsy was a toddler at Fort Okanogan, and a child at Fort Vancouver.
She spent a few years at the isolated post at The Dalles, on the Columbia River.
When she was ten or eleven years old she travelled north with her parents to Fort Simpson on the Northwest coast.
She met her future husband (Anderson) at the mouth of the Columbia River, and travelled with him to Fort Simpson and, a year later, to the Stikine.

As a child of the fur trade, Betsy dressed in the simple handmade dresses, leggings and leather mocassins that every girl and woman in the trading posts wore.
These practical garments were a mixture of Native dress and English clothing -- long-sleeved, high-waisted gowns with shapeless skirts that drooped to the ankles, worn over leggings of red or blue woollen cloth and moccasins she sewed herself.
Like other women, Betsy braided her auburn hair in a single thick braid that hung down her back, and in public she covered her dress with a blanket thrown over her shoulders.
Like every other man, woman, and child at the fur trade posts, she probably smoked tobacco in the elegant long-stemmed pipes readily available by the dozen in the post stores.

Every one in the fur trade had work to do, and the girls learned their needlwork from their mothers at an early age.
The women sewed their own clothes and their husband's as well; they made hundreds of pairs of moccasins from leather and sewed the caps, mittens, and leggings worn by everyone inside the fort and sold in the fort's store.
They preserved the salmon, gathered berries and dried them, snared small game such as rabbits and martens, and caught fish for the tables and for storage in the ice house.
Women weeded and maintained the Company's gardens, planted and harvested the potatoes that grew outside the walls of every fort west of the mountains.
But, when visitors arrived, Betsy did not play an active role in their entertainment.
These Metisse women were self-effacing and almost invisible; they never sat at the table with their husbands when there was anyone to see them, and they never joined in the gentlemen's conversation except to take part in a dance.
Like other women of her time, Betsy followed the long-established traditions of her Native and fur trade culture.
She remained in the background, and in public she walked behind her husband rather than taking his arm, as an Englishwoman would have done.
Although these fur traders did not parade their wives, they were not ashamed of them.
These women were not subservient but were strong workers who contributed a great deal to the business of the fur trade.
Most importantly, the women broke the monotony of the fur traders' lives when no one else was around and provided companionship for the gentlemen, who could not befriend their employees for fear of losing authority over them.
Betsy was not an educated woman; she was unfamiliar with the world outside the fur trade and could not understand it.
But there were many other entertainments that she and her husband could enjoy together.

There is no photograph of Betsy Birnie, but we can see how she looks if we compare pictures of her mother, Charlot Birnie (photo in OHS), and her children, shown in various photos in PABC.
But the best way to picture how she looks is to look at the photo of her younger sister, Victoria.
The Birnie daughters were often described as pretty, but Victoria never considered herself to be as good-looking as her sisters.
Victoria Birnie's coloured photo is in the PABC, and you can view it online -- Photo # I-68766.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Hudson's Bay Company boats west of the Rocky Mountains

This Hudson's Bay Company boat, used by the fur traders on the Fraser River at Fort Langley, is on display at the Fort Langley National Park site in the village of Fort Langley, British Columbia.
This boat is similar to the boats used to transport the brigade men from Fraser's or Stuart's Lake south in the spring, and bring the incoming express-men home in the late summer.
The boats carried the passengers and furs gathered over the winter south, from Stuart's Lake and Fort George.
The boats were stored in Fort Alexandria hay-sheds over the summer, to protect them from damage from the sun.
When the incoming brigades returned on horseback to Fort Alexandia in late summer, they left the horses to graze on the grasses that surrounded Fort Alexandria, and departed for Fort George and Stuart's Lake in the boats they had stored over the summer.
Before they left Fort Alexandria, they had to ensure that the clinker-built boats were watertight.
To do this, the men turned the boats bottom-up and gummed the gapping seams with a mixture of resin and tallow.
Then, with burning sticks of wood taken out of the fire, they melted the resin and tallow into the seams of the boat.
Anderson's oldest son, James, was quite alarmed when he saw the voyageurs apparently trying to set fire to the boat.
In his Memoirs, he writes: "During the afternoon I witnessed for the first time, the removing of all extraneous matter, splinters, etc., by fire much to my consternation believeing that our crews were veritably burning their boats behind them."

When Anderson entered the New Caledonia district in 1835, there were no boats in this district.
The fur traders travelled the rivers between the posts in birchbark canoes.
Peter Skene Ogden changed all that, and began to build boats similar to those used for many years on the Columbia River between Boat Encampment and Fort Vancouver.

When Alexander Anderson took over the Stuart's Lake post for a few months in late winter 1843, Chief Factor P. S. Ogden instructed him to supervise the building of six new boats for the brigade.
The boats that Anderson's men now built were not the first boats in the New Caledonia district, but they were among the first.
On March 13, the weather remained too cold to bend the ribs, but three men prepared the keels for two boats and one made rivets with a lathe.
By March 15 the weather moderated, and the employees bent the ribs with the aid of a steam-box.
By March 18 they had bent enough ribs for six boats, on March 22 they turned one boat and readied it for putting on the boards.
By April 1 the boatbuilders had their third boat ready for planking, and on April 4 they planked and finished three boats.
But they had not cut enough wood to complete more than four boats, and no time remained to obtain more supplies.

The Hudson's Bay Company's Leather Pass

In fall 1835, young Alexander Caulfield Anderson was sent from Fort George (New Caledonia), up the Fraser River to pick up the leathers that would be stored at Tete Jaune Cache.
Peter Skene Ogden had placed him in charge of eight voyageurs in two birchbark canoes, and he was to travel across this unfamiliar land to the base of the Rocky Mountains, and return before winter set in.
They expected this to be a short trip up and down the Fraser River.
It was not.

The straight-line distance between Fort George and Jasper's House (east of modern day Jasper, Alta.) is about 190 miles.
The fur traders found no leather stored at Tete Jaune Cache, and walked across the mountain pass to Jasper's House.
When the leather arrived with the express ten days later, the fur traders made their way west to the Fraser River.
But an early winter had arrived, and snow lay deep in the mountain pass and the Fraser River was beginning to freeze.
In the area near modern-day McBride, B.C., Anderson's canoes were finally frozen into the ice that covered the Fraser River.
The party dried and cached their leathers, and considered their options.
Though their native guide wanted to return to Fort George, Anderson led his party on foot toward Jasper's House, to the east.
They were starving when "... suddenly we fell in with a herd of reindeer, only one of which we shot, and thus from hand to mouth we at length reached Jasper's, under the light of a full moon at midnight, about a fortnight after turning back."

There was no food to spare at Jasper's House, and the party made their way on foot down the Athabasca River to Fort Assiniboine.
One group, which included Anderson, attempted a short cut across country to Edmonton House -- a route so difficult that when they reached McLeod's River they walked its frozen surface north to the Athabasca again.
The straight-line distance between Jasper's House and Fort Assiniboine is 160 miles; it is another 75 miles to Edmonton House.
They made Edmonton House in late November, half starved and half frozen.

In early December, Anderson and a few men retraced their steps toward the Athabasca and Jasper's House, this time with seven sledges drawn by three dogs apiece, that carried 300 pounds of pemmican.
In six days Anderson's party crossed the portage to Fort Assiniboine.
Two weeks later they reached Jasper's House, where they celebrated their Christmas early and had a day's rest.
Eight days after they left Jasper's, the party reached Tete Jaune Cache and proceeded down the Fraser River on its icy surface.
Twelve days later they saw their first sign of life when, shortly before they reached Fort George, they met the men who had been sent out to find them.

Over the this winter and on this one trip, Anderson walked across the Rocky Mountains between Tete Jaune Cache and Jasper's House four times -- even when they travelled by dog sled they took turns going ahead and breaking the trail for the dogs.
"I have mentioned this incident at some length," Anderson wrote in his History of the Northwest Coast, "because it will serve to convey some idea of the difficulties and privations which the officers and servants of the Comp[anie]s had freqently to undergo in the prosecution of their duties."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Constable Henry Anderson, B. C. Police

Henry Anderson was Alexander Caulfield Anderson's third child and second son, born at Fort Alexandria in 1843.
Henry was baptized at Fort Alexandria by Pere Nobili, and the witnesses to the ceremony were Donald Manson and Peter Skene Ogden -- what a grouping of famous men!
Henry was a red-headed, hot-tempered child who grew up to be a hot-tempered man.
In his brother's memoirs, Henry angrily told old Tout Laid, the native man who looked after him, to "Tais toi donc Tout Laid."
Tout Laid, of course, got his name from the French Canadian voyageurs, who rarely gave a flattering name to any man or beast.
For John Lutz -- this is another example of the kind of work the natives did in the fur trade!

Henry grew up at Fort Colvile and in Cathlamet, where he supposedly ran away from home to join the American Army at Steilacoom.
His father galloped north to Steilacoom to rescue him -- I haven't been able to confirm this story so if anyone has further information for me I would like to hear it.

In 1863, Henry had an altercation with a native employee at his father's farm, and was stabbed by the employee.
By the time the case came to court, nineteen year old Henry had disappeared into the gold fields of Northern British Columbia.
In May 1876, Harry was still in the Cariboo, according to a letter to Alexander Anderson's brother, William.

In Summer 1883, Henry had the charge of the HBC post at Fraser's Lake when it was closed.
I don't believe he worked in the fur trader for a long time -- little more than two years.
But because of his connection with Fraser's Lake, I have put Henry Anderson here.

In August 1883 Henry returned home to Victoria, "quite a stranger." None of his family had seen him for fifteen years.
In April 1884 Henry is temporarily employed at the Victoria Land Office.
Walter, Henry's brother, encouraged him to join the British Columbia Police force.

By 1885 Henry was a mining recorder and Constable at Ainsworth.
He was a pioneering businessman at that place, and with John Retallack conducted a general real estate office, mine brokerage and conveyancing business under the name of Anderson & Retallack.
In June 1885, recorder and Constable Henry Anderson arrested the miner R. E. Sproule for the murder of Thomas Hammill at the Bluebell Mine.
In December 1885, the miner Sproule was tried for the murder of Hammill in Victoria.
The miners in Spokane were outraged by Sproule's arrest, and the Spokane newspapers caused a great deal of trouble for Henry Anderson. Anderson's life was threatened, and had he crossed the boundary line he certainly would have been killed, according to James Anderson's story in PABC.
It is clear from James Anderson's journals that Henry is a very unhappy man.

In 1886, Henry is mining recorder and constable at Wild Horse Creek, where he arrested two native men -- Kapala and Little Isadore -- for the murder of miners Hilton and Kemp.
This resulted in Chief Isadore (no relation to Little Isadore) riding into Wild Horse with twenty natives stripped for war, and demanding that Constable Anderson release Kapala and Little Isadore from jail.
The natives demanded that Anderson leave the country, and sent a couple of natives along to pack horses for them and escort them safely to Golden.
In May 1887, the men of the Indian Reserve Commission talked to Chief Isadore, and shortly afterward Major Sam Steele and his D troop of the North West Police met Chief Isadore at Wild Horse Creek.
Anderson and his witness were present, and Harry Anderson took the photograph of Sam Steele and his North West Police tropps arriving at Wild Horse Creek (photo in PABC).

In the British Columbia directory 1877, Anderson is listed as the Government Agent at Wild Horse Creek. Wild Horse Creek is near modern-day Fort Steele, and was the site of the first gold rush in the Kootenays in 1864.
Many years later, a well known Kootenay historian and author revealed that Little Isadore and Kapala admitted to shooting the two American prospectors.

In April or May of 1888, Henry was in Nelson, acting as mining recorder for the district.
He applied for a quarter section of land right near the point of land where Nelson's big orange bridge stands today.
He planned to lay out a townsite called 'Salisbury,' but was forced to shelve his plans when the city gave the land to a man who had earlier laid claim to it.
If Anderson point still exists in Nelson, it is named for Constable Henry "Harry" Anderson.

In May 1891, Henry stormed out of James' house without saying a word to him. "It is cruel the way he has treated us," James wrote.
In June 1891, Henry married Hannah Renouf in Victoria, B. C., and did not invite his family to the wedding.
After his marriage he was appointed Municipal Clerk at Kaslo; he was fifty years old.
On Nov. 6 1893, Henry died suddenly at Kaslo, B. C.
After Henry's death, Hannah maintained a boardhouse in Ainsworth, and narrowly escaped losing her dwelling and possessions in the 1896 fire which destroyed the town.
The Mermaid Lodge and Motel in Ainsworth is Henry Anderson's old residence.
I am applying for permission to the British Columbia Archives to post Henry Anderson's photograph at the top of the page -- be patient.

The Collins Telegraph Trail

James Mackenzie Anderson was the son of James Anderson, Alexander Caulfield Anderson's older brother who had also joined the fur trade.
He was born at the HBC Nipigon Post on 12th August 1845.
He grew up at Fort Simpson, in the Northwest Territories, in a post managed by his father.
His father retired from the fur trade to Georgina, a township in York County.
About 1863, James Anderson and others went to British Columbia to work for the Collins Overland Telegraph Company, a company that planned to build a telegraph line from British Columbia to Russia across the Bering Sea.
James was 18 years old at the time.
He travelled by train to New York City, then by sailboat from New York to Nicaragua, walked across the peninsula to the Pacific, and sailed to San Francisco.
There the crew and passengers were jailed on suspicion of piracy.
Once he was released, James and his party went on to Victoria, where James visited his uncle Alexander Caulfield Anderson.
While he was working on the Collins Telegraph Trail, James Anderson acted as axeman to George Mercer Dawson, geologist and surveyor.
George Mercer Dawson had also known James' uncle, Alexander Caulfield Anderson.
The telegraph project was abandoned when the Atlantic cable was laid, and James Anderson and his party joined the gold rush to the Cariboo.
When the gold rush petered out, James returned to Sutton, Ontario.
I suspect that he actually visited his uncle at this time, after working on the Telegraph Trail, and that is why the trail is marked on Alexander Caulfield Anderson's 1867 map of British Columbia.

On his return to Sutton, Ontario, James Mackenzie Anderson took over the operation of the general store which sold everything from whiskey to frozen carcasses of pigs in wintertime.
James built a house called Riverside, in Sutton, presumably before he married.
It is rumoured that in 1885 James was a spy for the Canadian government during the Riel Rebellion; he was in Red River and took part in a Red River jig -- a Metis dance.
Of course, as son of a gentleman of the fur trade, James Anderson did not consider himself a Metis.
He may also be the James Anderson mentioned alongside his other uncle, William Anderson, in the "Frontier World of Edgar Dewdney."
James died 18th May 1932, in York, Ontario.

Fraser's Lake post

In 1836, when Anderson took charge of the post at Fraser's Lake, the Hudson's Bay Company forts in this territory still bore the names of the North West Company explorers who had opened up New Caledonia to the fur trade thirty years earlier.
Both the Fraser's Lake post, and Fraser River itself, had taken their names from Simon Fraser, and Stuart's Lake from Fraser's clerk, John Stuart.
Anderson had met Simon Fraser at Lachine House, and John Stuart at Red River.
Although Simon Fraser's journals remained unpublished until after Anderson's death in 1884, Anderson had an opportunity to read Simon Fraser's original handwritten journals.
In 1876, when historian H.H. Bancroft arrived at Victoria to collect the stories told by the old Hudson's Bay men, Simon Fraser's journals were in the hands of Anderson's close friend, Dr. Israel Wood Powell.

Bancroft made a copy of Simon Fraser's journal, but he did not collect the story that follows:
In 1821, when the North West Company merged with the Hudson's Bay Company under the latter company's name, John McDonell was the North West Company men then in charge of Fraser's Lake.
In 1828, McDonell made a cross country journey southward, to a native village on a river he called "Salmon River."
That river's modern name is Dean River, and it flows west to enter the eastern end of Dean Channel near Kimsquit, B.C.

This is not an important story, though all stories are important to someone.
As far as I know the exploration is not mentioned in any correspondence that survives in the Hudson's Bay archives, and the Fraser Lake post journals for 1828 have been lost.
The story of McDonell's exploration would have been lost, too, except for one thing.
The track of McDonell's exploration was recorded on one of Alexander Caulfield Anderson's maps.

When Anderson reached his new posting at Fraser's Lake in March 1836, he did one of two things:
Either Anderson read the post journals that remained there, including that of 1828; or he copied the map of the territory that had been left for his use.
Anderson recorded McDonell's exploration on his own map of the territory, and carried that map away with him when he left Fraser's Lake.
Thirty years later, Anderson looked over the maps which he had drawn over the years, and transferred all their stories onto his 1867 map of British Columbia.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Up the Fraser River to Fort George

On the map to the right we see the route that the incoming brigade boats followed when they left Fort Alexandria.
The brigaders left their horses at Fort Alexandria, and proceeded upriver toward Fort George, at the junction of the Thle-et-le (Nechako) and Fraser River.
It was slow work north of Fort Alexandria, rowing or poling their boats north against the heavy flow of the river.
But this part of the Fraser River had few hazards for the fur traders -- the Clayey Rapids (now Cottonwood Canyon) was never a major hurdle.
The only real difficulty they had in this part of the river was the canyon and rapids to the south of Fort George.
This was called the Fort George Canyon.
In the winter of 1835-6, Edward Linton and family set out from Fort George for Chilcotin post to the south, and disappeared.
No one knew what had happened, and it was assumed they lost their lives in the Fort George Canyon.
Only the dog survived to return to Fort George.

Fort Alexandria is marked on the bottom of the map at the top of the page.
Note Deserters Creek, upriver from Fort Alexandria.
There were always problems with deserters in the fur trade -- especially in New Caledonia -- and it is possible that the name of this creek came from the fur trade.
The word 'Liard' meant cottonwood, in the French Canadian language -- hence Cottonwood River flows into modern-day Cottonwood Canyon.
Anderson knew Cottonwood Canyon as Clayey Rapids.

On the map to the right you will see that on his map CM/13699A, PABC, Anderson marked the location of the 'Old Post'on the east bank of the Fraser River.
As far as historians know, Fort George always stood in the same location on the west bank of the Fraser River, and believe this is Anderson's error.
I have not been able to discover what might have stood here to show why Anderson thought an old fort stood here.
Anderson first passed through Fort George with Ogden's incoming brigade in Fall 1835, and returned to the post in January 1836.
He left the New Caledonia district for the first time in 1840.
No Fort George post journals have survived to make their way into the Hudson's Bay archives, so there is no record of the Occurrences at the fort.
Probably (although I have not specifically researched this question) there are no letters or reports that indicate Fort George changed its location.
Perhaps the remains of an earlier fort stood here.

Anderson spent a little time at Fort George before he left New Caledonia in 1840.
He had handed over the charge of Fraser's Lake post to the new clerk-in-charge, and travelled to Fort George on Chief Factor Peter Skene Ogden's orders.
In winter 1835-6 Anderson had travelled north up the Fraser River to Tete Jaune Cache to pick up the territory's leather supplies, and barely survived the journey.
In 1840 Ogden again ordered him to make the same journey to Tete Jaune Cache.
In December 1840, Ogden cancelled those orders; and Anderson travelled north to Stuart's Lake by a route new to the men of the Hudson's Bay Company.
In his History of the Northern Interior of British Columbia, A.G. Morice quotes from the post journals: "Anderson arrived from Fort George today. He did not come by Nantlais (Natleh or Fraser Lake) but by Nakasley (Na'kaztli or Stuart) River, a far shorter route, and one we shall in future follow -- a great saving of time and provisions."
Obviously, the Hudson's Bay Company men had fallen into the habit of travelling over the few familiar trails between their forts, forgetting the river trails that had once been well known to the early explorers of the North West Company.
This was Alexander Caulfield Anderson's first recorded exploration; it would not be his last.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fort Alexandria, New Caledonia

To our left is the map of the area that surrounded Fort Alexandria, as Alexander Caulfield Anderson knew it.
When Anderson first came to Fort Alexandria in 1835, the old fort was situated across the river from the location in which I now show it.
When he re-entered the territory to take over the charge of Fort Alexandria, it was still located on the west side of the river.
There were two possible reasons for the removal of the fort in January 1846:
Firstly, the old fort was so close to the river banks that it had often been flooded in the spring freshets and was rotten and falling apart; these forts needed constant maintenance and rebuilding.
It was probable that another spring freshet caused Anderson to make the decision to move the fort.

But another reason would have been that the fort was threatened by an enormous landslide that completely destroyed the village that belonged to the Home Guard natives who lived in the immediate area.
The natives that always lived near a Hudson's Bay post were called, by the Hudson's Bay men, the "Home Guard Indians."
I have indicated the probable locations of Stonia Lake and Cake Lake, near the fort.
A great deal of agriculture happened around Stonia Lake, and it is often mentioned in the post journals.
However, Cake Lake's name came by accident, when James -- Alexander Anderson's eldest boy -- lost his cakes in the lake.
I can't imagine what these cakes were made of, but they were not cakes as we now know them.
If anyone has a recipe of some sort for these cakes, please let me know what it is.

Interestingly, we have from Alexander Caulfield Anderson's writing a recipe for roasted tiger lilly -- often eaten by the natives around this place.

The shot at the top of the page shows the cairn that now marks the location of Fort Alexandria -- although the fort never stood on that spot but to the west (behind) the cairn and closer to the banks of the Fraser River.

To the left we have a view of the grasslands looking in the probable direction of the place the fort once stood.
Nothing remains of the old fort today.

In the early 1860's, Anderson wrote of Fort Alexandria, in his unpublished essay, British Columbia:
"I have talked, however, of a thing that was. All, I am informed, has since been suffered to fall into decay; and the little farm on which I used to pride myself has passed away; the kine, and even the very cocks and hens, have vanished; and if the mill remains it must be as the mere ghost of its former imperfect self -- a sad memento of the past."
Anderson described the mill that had once existed at Fort Alexandria -- the first mill in the New Caledonia district.
"To grind our wheat we had a small portable mill, with stones two feet in diameter. This mill of American manufacture was bought at Fort Vancouver on the Columbia, taken up the Columbia by water to Okinagan, and thence packed on horse-back piece-meal to its destination. The mill itself was well made and efficient, but the driving gear, constructed at Alexandria, was a marvelous piece of workmanship. In those days of make-shifts, and dove-tailing of means and appliances, to turn a Canadian voyageur into a mill-wright was nothing. Hence our mill, of which by the way we were very proud, rumbled round in a most eccentric manner. It did its work, though, but with a wondrous strain upon the poor horses who tugged the unwieldy machine around. The flour thus produced was of excellent quality; and tasted all the sweeter, I doubt not, as the result of our own exertions."

The barn in the photo to the left might stand more or less where the new Fort Alexandria stood, on the top of the point of land that projected out into the Fraser River.
It is probable, however, that the fort more stood to the west, or left side, of the photograph.
These two final photographs were taken from the south of the location where the cairn now stands, looking north toward the point of land on which Fort Alexandria stood.

This is the view that the incoming brigades would have enjoyed as they approached Fort Alexandria.
I understand the horses knew where they were, and often galloped their last few miles into the fort grounds.

Alexander Caulfield Anderson

The photograph above is of Alexander Caulfield Anderson, and is said to be taken about 1880 when he was about 65 years old.
I have used this photograph with the permission of the Provincial Archives of British Columbia, and its Call No. is A-01075.
As you can see, his hair was white though his brows still appeared dark.
Even after his retirement from the Hudson's Bay Company, Anderson maintained an occasional correspondence with Governor George Simpson.
In March 1857, Anderson wrote: "I am happy to say that my family are well; and I know it will interest you to learn from me -- though in such case possibly a partial witness -- that my children conduct themselves in such-wise as in no way to dishonor the grizzled crown with which Time is liberally endowing me." (D.5/43, fo. 284, HBCA)

There are very few contemporary descriptions of Alexander Caulfield Anderson in written records.
On June 21, 1824 at the mouth of the Stikine River, W. H. Tolmie described a native chief who stood in front of him, with a reference to his good friend Anderson:
"...he is a tall well-formed Indian, rather corpulent but that adds to his dignity of deportment -- countenance on the grecian model, encircled by flowing locks of jet black hair, bushy whiskers, mustachios and beard of the same hue -- his dress a fox skin robe -- he looks somewhat like Colonel Anderson, but his features are larger -- is forward and presuming."
This suggests that Anderson had a dignified and perhaps military posture, and he had allowed his hair and beard to grow long on the sea-voyage to the Northwest coast -- not surprising.
Certainly Anderson was never corpulent, and certainly not so at that young age (20 years old).
This reference was found in book, Tolmie: Physican and Fur trader; the Journal of Dr. Tolmie, ed. Howard T. Mitchell, Mitchell Press, 1963.

In 1878, the San Francisco historian H. H. Bancroft arrived in Victoria to research the history of the territory, and interviewed many retired Hudson's Bay men.
Bancroft wrote of Anderson: "In personal appearance, at the time I saw him, he being then sixty three years of age, Mr. Anderson was of slight build, wiry make, active in mind and body, with a keen, penetrating eye, covered by lids which persisted in a perpetual and spasmodic winking, brought on years ago by snow-field exposure, and now become habitual, and doubtless as disagreeable to him as to his friends. In speech he was elegant and precise, and by no means so verbose as in his writings, and in carriage, if not so dignified as [Roderick] Finlayson, his manner would do him credit at St. James."
This quote comes from a footnote on page 159, The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft, vol. 32, History of British Columbia.
I understand that Alexander's older brother, James, had the same tic in his eye.

James Anderson A was Alexander Anderson's older brother by two years, and he, too, joined the fur trade in 1831.
As he travelled across the Atlantic Ocean to Hudson's Bay and Moose Factory, where he was posted, he wrote a desription of himself in the front of his journal.
James Anderson -- then about 19 years old -- described himself as weighing 150 pounds, and standing just short of 6 feet tall.
There is no such description of Alexander Anderson, but later photographs show a lean, long-legged man who towered above his companions.

But by the time those photographs were taken, Alexander's hair had already turned white.
James' photographs and portraits taken in later life show a brown-haired, blue-eyed, man; Alexander's wavy hair was probably medium-to-dark brown in his youth, and his eyes might have been blue, like his brother's.

The portrait above is of James Anderson A, Alexander Anderson's older brother; it is in the collection of the Georgina Pioneer Village, Keswick, Ontario, and they have allowed me to use it on this site.
A short version of James Anderson's biography can be found on this site, date July 26, 2009 -- "James Anderson (A), HBC."
To learn more about this man, look at the Georgina Pioneer Village's celebrations of James Anderson's life -- Exploring James Anderson: A Journey through the Adventurous Life of a Company Man -- online at virtual
I find it the lazy way, by googling "Alexander Caulfield Anderson."
You can find more information on James Anderson's journey to the Arctic Ocean in the Beaver Magazine, vol.310 [Spring 1980], Eric J. Holmgren, "The Diary of J. G. Stewart, 1855; Describing his Overland Journey in Search of the Franklin Expedition."
Copies of his many journals are in the Provincial Archives of British Columbia, as are many original letters written to his brother, Alexander.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Brigade Trail, Fish Lake to Fort Alexandria

When I took this photograph, I forgot to write down its location -- it is either the west end of Williams Lake, or more likely a view of the Fraser River south of Fort Alexandria.
I hope a local reads this and can identify for me where this photograph was taken.

To the right is the map of New Caledonia, still considered by the fur traders to be part of the Columbia District though it was a thousand miles north of Fort Vancouver.
The southernmost post in New Caledonia was Fort Alexandria, where Anderson served for six years .
Fort Alexandria stood two hundred miles north of the Thompson's River district, later known as Kamloops.
To the north of Fort Alexandria was Fort George -- where the modern-day city of Prince George stands.
North and west of Fort George was the headquarters of New Caledonia at Stuart's Lake, later known as Fort St. James -- and Fraser's Lake, where Anderson had his first New Caledonia posting in 1835-1840.

Fort Alexandria was not the final destination for the brigaders, but it was the end of the horse trails.
From Fort Alexandria, the brigaders continued upriver in boats which had been stored at the fort, and the horses were left behind.

New Caledonia was sometimes called the 'Siberia of the Fur Trade.'
It was named by the fur traders of the North West Company -- Simon Fraser and John Stuart -- who entered the territory in 1805.

The map to the left shows the last few miles of the brigade trail between Fish Lake (Williams Lake) to Fort Alexandria.
Modern day McLeese Lake bore a different name in those days -- it was called White Earth Lake.
The first rapids south of Fort Alexandria occurred at the mouth of Riviere a Joseph (Soda Creek), and were called the Atnah Rapids.
It is at this point that the native tribes naturally separated themselves into the Ta-Cully or Carrier tribes that surrounded Fort Alexandria, and the Secwepemc people who inhabited the massive area all the way to Kamloops.
It did not matter what the Secwepemc (Shuswap) people called themselves -- at Fort Alexandria they were known only by the Ta-Cully word for stranger, 'Atnah.'
Fort Alexandria was always important for the crops it grew.
At the end of summer 1843, the Hudson's Bay men knew that this year, they would not suffer from a shortage of food, as they often did.
Of the poor seed planted in the spring, they harvested 500 bushels of wheat, enough for their own general use and some to take out with the brigade the following spring.
There were also 40 cartloads of barley, 12 of oats, 660 bushels of potatoes, and 300 kegs of turnips.

In his unpublished manuscript British Columbia (PABC), Anderson wrote of Fort Alexandria:
"As the best criterion of the productive powers of British Columbia I will cite some of the statistics of the Hudson's Bay Company farm attached to the Post of Alexandria, conducted under my own supervision for six years succeeding 1842. Wheat, barley and oats were sown, in the order mentioned, as fast as the ground was prepared; fall-wheat having of course been sown the preceding Autumn. Immediately following, potatoes were planted, generally about the beginning of May. Late in June or early in July refreshing thunder-showers lasting sometimes at intervals for a week or ten days, afforded a favorable opportunity for sowing turnips, which the heat afterwards brought on with great rapidity. The remainder of the time, till the commencement of harvest, was occupied in attending to the gardens and green crops, and laying in a stock of hay for the winter. Fall-wheat was less to be depended upon than the spring variety, for the reason that, if frost came on before the fall of snow the expansion of the surface soil was apt to unroot the growing grain. The crops secured during the years I have mentioned were invariably good. I have witnessed forty bushels of the finest spring wheat thrashed from the product of a measured acre (Canadian) of sixty six yards square. The yield of Barley was invariably heavy; that of Oats good, considering the inferior variety we cultivated. All the culinary vegetables throve well. We had in 1847 twenty six milch cows; and in the spring of 1848, when the writer was removed to the charge of Colvile District on the Columbia, ninety head of cattle, counting the increase of that year, remained upon the farm. Fowls, turkeys, and pigeons completed the live stock. Swine, albeit in many parts a most profitable stock, were not raised in large numbers, on account of the trouble attending them when ranging at large. A few were raised in styes for a while, but the breed eventually was lost."
A footnote on the back of another page tells a little more about the pigs -- "It was an abominable breed -- lank, long-legged, and with a snout like a ploughshare, I did not fret much when I saw the last of them disappear."
As you can see, the fur trade is about much more than just the trading of furs.
The photograph at the bottom of the page is of the point of land on which Fort Alexandria stood after 1844.
Though the fort was built on the east side of the river in 1821, it was moved to the Fraser's west side about 1836.
When Anderson entered New Caledonia in 1835, the fort stood on the west bank of the Fraser River.
In early 1846, Anderson gave orders to move the fort from the west bank of the Fraser River, to the top of the point of land high above the waters of the Fraser River.
It is admittedly hard to distinguish, but the Fraser River curves around the high-banked point of land in the middle of the photograph.
Today this beautiful piece of land is owned by the descendents of the natives who lived around Fort Alexandria.

The Brigade Trail, Bridge Creek to Fish Lake

From Bridge Creek, the brigaders rode north west toward Lac la Hache (Axe Lake).
Both the old and new brigade trails followed this route west from Bridge River and, although the trail changed its course west of modern-day Williams Lake, this part of the brigade trail was used since the beginnings of the brigade trail out of New Caledonia.
Alexander Caulfield Anderson entered New Caledonia by the old brigade trail over the Thompson Plateau in 1835, and he left by that same trail in 1840.

When he re-entered New Caledonia in 1842, he rode in over the new trail. In 1843 the brigaders used the new trail for their brigades for the first time.

Above and to the left we have the San Jose river valley, which the fur traders followed west toward the Fraser River.

From early days in the fur trade the river carried this name, and it is still called that.

In both photos of the San Jose River valley we look east towards Lac la Hache.

Both the old brigade trail over the Thompson's Plateau to the North Thompson River, and the new brigade trail through Green and Loon Lake, followed this stream valley from Lac la Hache to Fish Lake (modern-day Williams Lake).

The photograph to the left shows the beautiful grasslands that lay at the north end of Williams Lake.
Anderson wrote of the area around Williams Lake in his unpublished manuscript "British Columbia," PABC:
"About Williams Lake, near Alexandria, the nature of the grass is different, but still very nutritive, and the vetch abounds throughout. In former years the Hudson's Bay Company's herd of horses, attached to Alexandria, amounting to upwards of three hundred, wintered constantly in this vicinity, under the care of the horse keeper and an Indian assistant." -- Fort Alexandria's horse-guard must have been close to modern-day Williams Lake.

Anderson knew this lake by a number of names.

The early fur traders called this Fish Lake. In his later writings Anderson called it Lac de Colum-
en-let-sa -- the French Canadians' name for the lake, likely based on the natives' name.

We are standing on the north side of the lake and looking toward the west. This is the side of the lake that the brigaders travelled.

From the far end of the lake, Williams Creek flows to the Fraser River. For a few years the brigade trail did follow Williams Creek all the way to the river, but by the time Anderson left Fort Alexandria in 1848, the brigaders followed a shorter route north to Fort Alexandria.

This was the country Anderson loved. He reveled in the beauty of the open valleys that were divided from each other by ridges of land heavily timbered with Douglas and other firs.

Fine grasslands surrounded many of the lakes that lay along their route, and aspen and cottonwood grew in the streambeds.

In springtime -- the time the brigade rode away from Fort Alexandria toward Kamloops -- the white petals of the Mock Orange filled the air with their fragrance, and from every copse echoed the low drumming of the ruffed grouse.