Monday, September 6, 2010

Lolo, or Leolo, of Thompson's River post

I have begun research for my next book, and am reading the Fort Victoria Letters from the Hudson's Bay Company Archives.
As a result I have found more about the men named Jean Baptiste Lolo, and his son Edouard, both of whom I have mentioned in an earlier posting.
Almost certainly, one or both of these Lolo men rode out with the brigades to Fort Hope and Langley every summer.

Letter, James Douglas to Donald Manson [Fort St. James], 12th April 1854 -- "In reference to your letter of the 12th August I have to inform you that we paid the sum of 12 pounds as wages to Jean B. Leolo, according to your request, and the same has been charged against New Caledonia district O[utfi]t 1853."
When I get to the Fort St. James letters, I might find out what J.B. Leolo did for Manson.

Letter, James Douglas to Paul Fraser [Thompson's River post], 19th Sept. 1854 -- "Lolo has just arrived here with the packet from Thompson's River by which I have been put in possession of your esteemed letters....
"Lolo has just been talking with me on the subject of the new route, which leaving the present route from Thompson's River at the Similammen [Similkameen] followed a depression in the mountains leading direct to Fraser's River a little below the junctions of Harrisons River where there is an extensive range of alluvial plains capable of maintaining the brigade horses for any desirable length of time.
"Should that route prove to be accessible it combines so many advantages over the terminus of the present Fort Hope route that I conceive it of the utmost importance to have it throughly explored and reported on. With that view I have desired Lolo to take that route on his return to Thompson's River, and to report on it to you. As an encouragement for so doing I will make him a small present before he leaves this place."

Letter, James Douglas to Donald Manson, 19th September 1854 -- "I have noted your remarks in reference to the plain discovered last summer by Lolo, on the north side of Fraser's River, and which you propose to take advantage of for pasturing the Brigade Horses during the boat trip to and from Fort Langley, instead of sending them as usual to the Horse Guard beyond the mountains.
"Another object probably of greater importance, as respects our inland transport, has just been announced by Lolo, who states that a new route from the Simalameen valley, leading through a continuous valley direct to Fraser's River, where there are extensive alluvial plains capable of supporting all the Brigade Horses for any .. length of time, has been discovered by Indians of his acquaintance, who report most favourably of the route and country through which it passes.
"I have employed Lolo to examine that route, and to report upon it to Mr. Fraser on his return to Thompson's River, should that route prove accessible. I am of opinion it will be found to combine, all the advantages in regard to the pasture and its proximity to Fort Langley which we have in vain sought for in the Fort Hope route..."

Letter, James Douglas to James Murray Yale [Fort Langley], 19th Sept. 1854 -- "He [Lolo] has informed me of the probability of a new route from the Shimolcomeen to Fraser's River, opposite its confluence with Harrison's River, being soon discovered, a great part of it had already been traversed by Indians of his acquaintance. Should that route prove accessible, it will combine so many advantages, as respects our Inland transport over the [terminus] of the present route by Fort Hope that I conceive it of the utmost importance, to have it throughly explored. With that in view I have desired Lolo, to take that route on his way to Thompson's River, for the purpose of examining it carefully, and as an encouragement for so doing, I intend to make him a small present before he leaves this place. He will require some assistance from you, in the shape of provisions and guides, and I hope you will supply him with every necessary aid for carrying out that very desirable exploration."

Letter, James Douglas to Donald McLean [Thompson's River], 24th Sept. 1856 -- "I have much pleasure of receipt of your much valued letter, of the 9th inst., which I received yesterday from John Bapt. Lolo. I was very glad to hear of your welfare, and of the safe arrival of the ingoing Brigade, and of your return to Fort Hope with the party intended for the improvement of that trying road, between Manson's Mountain, and Mount Colvile...
"I am glad to hear that your opinion of the Chilwayah route is more favorable than it was when we parted last summer, but I must say that my confidence in it is much impaired, by the reports I have received and Lolo's description has not tended to restore the good opinion I formerly entertained of it. He in fact, so far as I can understand his meaning, decidedly condemns it as a horse route, in consequence of its length and the natural difficilties of the country...In a matter of so much importance no pains should be spared, to ascertain the best route through that difficult country, in order to diminish the heavy outlay, now caused by the annual loss of horses, resulting principally, from the fatigue and privations of that part of the journey....."

Letter, James Douglas to Donald Manson, 24th September 1856 -- "I have just received your much esteemed letter of the 28th August, announcing your arrival at Alexandria with the brigade and outfit in good order....
"St Paul is now here, and we have paid all the orders given to him and other Indians, in payment of transport expenses."

Lolo is not mentioned past this point, but the trail is.

Letter, James Douglas to Secretary, HBCHouse, London, 10th July 1855 -- "...we have commenced exploration of the country by the valley of the Chilwayook River, by which the Indians report there is a practicable passage through the mountains into the level plains of Thompson's River."

Letter, James Douglas to Secretary, HBCHouse, 1st August 1855 -- "Mr. Gavin Hamilton who was employed with a party of two men and Indians, in exploring the route to the interior, by the Chilwayook valley, has completed that service, and reports very favourably of that line of road, the country being generally level, rising to the dividing ridge, which is there scarcely perceptible, by a gradual route; pasture for the horses is every where abundant, and there are extensive grassy meadows...It therefore possesses great advantages over the Fort Hope road, and entirely avoids the mountain barrier, which forms the principal difficulty of that route, with which it unites on the Banks of the Shimilcomen River. We propose to employ a few man and Indians in opening this road, in course of the present summer, but we will not go to any extensive clearings, until it has been further examined."

The "scarcely perceptible" height of land of which they speak is the Coquihalla mountain range!

Letter, James Douglas to Secty, HBCHouse, April 1 1856 -- "..I have to inform you, that we did not succeed in completing the New Road from Fort Langley to Thompson's River, by the Chilwhayook valley last summer, and we have made arrangements to recommence operations from both extremities of the line, as soon as the weather permits, and hope to have it thoroughly opened for the passage of the brigades in course of the ensuing summer."

Letter, James Douglas to Donald Manson, 4th March 1857 -- "Your remarks in respect to the difficulties of the Fort Hope route are I admit well grounded & I think the other route by the Chilwaywook valley is rendered passable the better for all accounts agree in representing it as free from most of the defects of the other road. We did not succeed in opening it throughout its whole extent last autumn but I have writen to Mr. McLean to push forward a party as soon as possible with the view of rendering it passable for the Brigade next summer and I trust that you will cooperate with all your means in accomplishing that important object."

Letter, James Douglas to James Murray Yale, 19th March 1856 -- "Pray commence operations on the new road as soon as circumstances permit as it is highly important that it should be rendered available for this season in consequence of the discovery of Gold about Colvile..."

Letter, James Douglas to Secretary, HBCHouse, London, July 8, 1856 -- "...We have for the present abandoned the proposed new route to the Interior by the Chilwayook valley in consequence of unexpected obstacles, which the explorers of the route had overlooked, near the Chilwayook Lake, which is enclosed by precipitous rocky hills, apparently inaccessible to horses either in a direct line across their summit or by following the margin of the lake. We are therefore now about to direct all our strength to improve the existing road by Fort Hope." Lolo was right!

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