I have told you that this first journal is not complete, as when I collected it I was following James Birnie (my great-great-grandfather) across the country.
So if you want to read the entire journal, you will have to request Fort Vancouver post journals, B.223/a/3, HBCA
Lieutenant Aemilius Simpson was Governor George Simpson's first cousin, and he went west to the Columbia to take charge of one of the ships that was travelling up and down the coast.
On his journey across the country, Simpson carried a few apple seeds which, on his arrival at the fort were planted.
The oldest apple tree is still there, a few miles from old Fort Vancouver.
Simpson died a few years after he reached the coast, and was buried outside old Fort Simpson.
His was one of the bodies that was removed from the old fort by Peter Skene Ogden, when he and his men brought the last batch of goods from the old fort they were abandoning.
On Ogden's arrival at the new Fort Simpson, Simpson's body was again buried.
His body is still there, outside modern-day Port Simpson.
The story is in my book, The Pathfinder. Both Alexander Caulfield Anderson and James Birnie were there.
Just to give you a little information about this section of the journey, I am quoting from a book called Exploring the Fur Trade Routes of North America: Discover the Highways that opened a Continent, by Barbara Huck et al [Winnipeg: Hartland Assoc., 2002] p. 158-59.
This book is an excellent resource if you are interested in learning more about the various fur trade river routes around the country.
Here is what Barbara Huck (or et al) has to say about the Hayes River:
"Going upstream from Hudson Bay, the 610-kilometer journey began with days of "tracking" the loaded boats, hauling them with long lines to which the men were harnessed like oxen.
"The river's 37 portages (bypassing 45 rapids and falls) began nearly 200 kilometers upstream at "the Rock," now called Whitemud Falls.
"Here, where two large islands and several small ones block the river as it tumbles off the Precambrian Shield onto the Hudson Bay Lowlands, crosses paid tribute to bay-bound paddlers who made a fateful decision against one last portage.
"During the 1790's, a small supply post -- Rock Depot -- was built on one of the islands to cut the round-trip journey of men from the western posts by 400 kilometers; goods and furs could be ferried at leisure from York Factory.
"From here to Knee Lake, a distance of about 80 kilometers, the riverbed climbs steeply, gaining almost three quarters of its total 218-metre rise in elevation.
"Full of rocks and islands, the waterway is tumultuous.
"En route is Brassey Hill, the highest point between Hudson Bay and Lake Winnipeg.
"The view from the top allows a panorama over 36 lakes.
"Slogging upstream, the brigades reached what was known as "the Dramstone," which marked the last of the worst of the rapids.
"Here the men often demanded to be treated with a wee nip for their toils.
"Ahead lay Knee and Oxford Lakes.
"A resort graces the scenic shores of the former; on the latter, the modern community of Oxford House dates its history to the fur trade.
"Both lakes are aligned with the prevailing westerlies.
"Though bay-bound travellers may find this an advantage, both lakes can be dangerous in high winds."
In this post we are only travelling as far as Knee Lake, so I will preserve further information on this route till the next posting -- which should bring us all the way to Norway House.
Warning: in this first journal, all of the words that appear in the square brackets I have put in without having access to the actual microfilm. When I copied the words I left blanks in places where I could not actually make out the words. Hence, the words in square brackets are put in there to help the story along but they might not actually be the word that Simpson used. If you want a true copy, rent the reel and copy it out yourself.
Note: the bottom of the Hayes River was sometimes called the Steel; the section of the river called Hill River came next; and Jack River is the piece of the Hayes River just before Knee Lake -- these fur trade journals have many different names for various parts of the same river.
Journal of a Voyage across the Continent of North America in 1826 by Aemilius Simpson, R.N.:
July 1826 -- Friday 14th. The Saskatchewan Brigade, which I was appointed to accompany (as were all the party bound for the Columbia) being now equipped, and the number of men required for the latter department being made up the dispatches closed, and all other arrangements being completed, we embarked from York Factory at 3 pm. and commenced our journey across the continent of North America. Our brigade consisted of about sixty persons in all for the several departments viz. Saskatchewan, Columbia, and New Caledonia including Messrs. -- Stewart C.T., Rowan C.T., McMillan C.T., MacGillivray C.T., MacDougal, Clerk, [James] Birnie, Clerk, Sinclair, mate of Cadboro building in the Columbia, and myself for the purpose of taking command of that [vessel]. We embarked in five boats which were fully laden with the supplies for the Interior. Our crews were in high spirits and commenced their laborious journey with as much apparent indifference as if a few days was to bring it to a conclusion. On embarking we were accompanied to the Wharf by all the gentlemen and servants assembled at York Factory, which at this time was very numerous. To be [word] to so many was therefore a very formidable task, and although my mode of life from an early period has exposed me to frequent changes and separation from friends, yet it has not been able to prevent me from feeling very acutely such separation when the hour arrives, and on the present occasion I could not divest myself of such a feeling, when parting with my valuable friend the Governor of Ruperts Land. I was now [alone?] among strangers and upon entirely a new mode of life, [on] consideration which was calculated to create a good deal of anxiety as I was a stranger to the habits of the former...
On embarking at 3 pm. we had a favourable breeze which [assisted] our ascent of Hayes River, but on its dying away, our crews were obliged to commence [rowing] which was a very laborious duty, the path in many places being along the [side] of steep cliffs of [word] clay. Yet such is the spirit of [word] among these voyageurs, that they are regardless of many obstacles and perform their Duty with a cheerfulness and perseverance that cannot be [word]. We continued our ascent of Hayes River until a short distance below eighteen mile Creek, where we encampt for the night at 9.20 pm. The weather throughout the day was fine but we were very much persecuted by moskitos.
Saturday 15th. The morning commenced hazy, but cleared up on the sun's rising when the weather became fine and pleasant. We embarked at 12.50 am and continued our ascent of Hayes River, which we completed at 5 pm. When we arrived at the confluence of the Shamattawa, making the estimated distance from York Factory 56 miles, which exceeds Capt. Franklin's a few miles. As we continue our ascent the current gains additional force, which adds very much to the labour of tracking, but we were occasionally favoured with a breeze which gave us assistance, and the [tracking] path was in many places very good having a beach covered with rounded stones, as compactly as if done by human labour, and forming a good causeway. We continued to ascend [Steel or Hayes] River until 9:30 pm. when we were 12 miles above the junction of the Shamattawa & having made a dent on the course of the day of 50 miles by my estimation [illegible].
Sunday 16th. The morning commenced hazy, with a cold dew followed by a warm day. At 2.30 am. embarked and continued our ascent of the [Steel or Hayes] River until noon, when we arrived at the confluence of the [Steel or Hayes] and [Hill] Rivers, making the latter by my estimation a distance of 29 miles, we now commenced our ascent of Hill River, which we continue until 8.30 pm., having ascended it 12 miles and making a distance in the course of the day of 29 miles in a winding course to the S.W. when we [stopped], our men having had a hard day tracking over a very indifferent path, it being in many places along the way perpendicular clay cliffs affording frequently a very unsafe footing. These cliffs often attain a height of a hundred feet with their summits perfectly level and bearing a [thick] growth of pines.
Monday 17th. The morning hazy but fine weather during the day. We embarked at usual hour and continued our ascent of the Hill River by tracking the path generally better than yesterday, as those steep clay cliffs no longer [loom]. But its being flooded in some places still renders it a very laborious duty. We do not [travel] therefore at a rate exceeding .... miles per hour, at 4.45 pm. we arrived at the Rocky Portage, which I estimate is 34 miles above the mouth of the Hill River, making this portage occupied us until 6 pm. when we proceeded for 2 miles and [illegible] and having hauled above them at 8.15 we continued our ascent for a mile, when we encampt for the night, at 9 pm. On getting above the Rock Portage the [word] men tracking, and proceeded by Poling, on open water at which our Canadian boys again are very expert. The face of the country assumes a different character along our days track. The hills are now rounded taking their rise gradually from the banks of the river and forming a chain or ridge of hills running parallel with the course of the river, bearing a stint of growth of pines, with bush and [word] of shrubs. The scenery about the rock portage is very picturesque and romantic.
Tuesday 18th. Commenced a heavy fog which cleared up at 5 am. At noon the weather was hot and sultry. The thermometer up to 80 degrees, which ended in the evening with rain and thunder. At 3 am. we continued our ascent of the Hill River, which now presents a constant chain of rapids, obliging us to make frequent discharges and portages viz the White Mud Portage, Rocky Point Discharge, 1st and 2nd Brass Portages and minor rapids. At 7 pm. we arrived at the lower Burnt Wood Portage where we encampt for the night. Having after a day of great labour and fatigue come a distance of only 13 miles. Mr. Alex Stewart passed in the afternoon in his light canoe, my travelling companion Mr. MacMillan accompanied him, being anxious to get to Norway House, this afforded him a more expeditious means of getting there. I was offered a seat, but declined it.
Wednesday 19th. We had a considerable fall of rain during the night, some of our boats having fallen on the rear, we were detained in our encampment until 6 am. when we pursued our journey opposed by a constant [rush] of strong rapids requiring the utmost exertion, alternately at the poles hauling line and oars, and making frequent portages, viz. South Harding Plain, Morgans Rocks, Passage des Isle, Upper Burnt Wood, Smooth Stones, Portages, above which we encampt for the night. Having only come a distance of five miles from our mornings encampment. The fatigue from the giant labour attending this mode of travelling is very great, and notwithstanding, the fine scenery presented by many of these [word] rapids, which are well calculated to please either the eye or imagination of the traveller, yet their frequent repetition of the serious obstacles accompanying them, divests them in a great measure of that [pleasure] which under different circumstances they must [give], the attention of the travelers principally [attend] to his progress, do you hear a constant repetition of the query, how far distant is the next portage? Occasionally the portages remunerate us by a supply of wild fruit, viz. Strawberries, gooseberries.
Thursday 20th. Fine clear weather, some of our boats being [left] in the rear we did not proceed on our journey until 4.30 am. We were occupied until 8.40 in getting above the rapids of the Mossy Portage, at noon we were making the 2nd portage, the day extremely warm. Thermometer 81 degrees. Notwithstanding our incursory exertions our [travel] today has been very trifling in point of distance being only 4 1/2 miles but taking Portages and rapids as an equivalent we have certainly made a fair days march having [crossed] Four portages two of them [word] places for boats, besides [word] by am. three [word] long shoots of rapids, some of these dangerous, the best tedious and fatiguing, the crews being frequently obliged to leap overboard in the rapids to launch the boats over rocks. The heat of the day was followed by showers in the evening. Two of our boats having fallen in the rear, we encampt at 8 pm. above the Rapids of Ground Water Creek.
Friday 21st. The morning gloomy with drizzling rain. We continued in our encampment until 9.30 am. in consequence of two of the boats being still behind, when we embarked we continued our ascent of the Hill River by Poling, hauling by line and rowing alternately, as circumstances required. At 3 pm. we arrived above the Upper Rapids of Hill river which River by my estimation is 64 miles, the last 30 above the Rock Portage, a continued chain of rapids and spouts which has occupied us four days in ascending them. We now entered Swampy Lake and being favoured with a sailing wind, we landed on the Sail Island, a short distance from the Dramstone, and furnishing ourselves with masts we made sail up this Lake, an agreeable change in our mode of travelling. On completing the ascent of Swamp Lake which is about 10 miles [long] we entered [Jack] River at 5 pm. and having carried across the first portage, which is about 1 mile up the River we proceeded on to the Long Portage. When we encampt for the night five of our boats still in the rear. The weather today has been rather cold and cloudy. Wind S.E. Thermometer 57 degrees.
Saturday 22nd. Fine clear weather. Having remained in our encampment for the arrival of our two sternmost boats, we did not embark till 6.45 am. When carrying with 2nd portage Mr. MacDonnel for Timmiscamaing in a light Canoe came up with us from York Factory bringing along with him Mr. [George] Barnston, Clerk, to join the Columbian brigade. At 3 pm. we completed our ascent of the Jack Fork or Lower Jack River, which presents a constant chain of rapids and is the only 9 miles is taken, than are four portages with a distance of two miles, that may be considered one of the worst parts of the track from York Factory. Now entered Knee Lake, which we continue to ascend with a firm fair breeze until 8pm. when the [sternmost] boats again falling out of sight behind us [we camp] for the night upon a small islet, having ascended the lake 21 miles in a WSW direction, and having come during the day a distance of 28 miles. We had fine clear weather throughout the day. Thermom. at noon 67 degrees, Wind N.E. [name] passed on his way to Montreal from York Factory in three canoes.
Journal of a Voyage from York Factory to Fort Vancouver, Columbia River, 1827, by Edward Ermatinger:
July 14th, Saturday. Wet weather. Mosquitoes very numerous. Left YF [York Factory] 1/4 before 5 o'clock pm. with 3 boats manned by 24 men. Encamped at 1/2 past 9 o'clock below the 18 mile Island.
15th. Fine weather. Started at daylight. Stopt 1 hour for breakfast -- afterwards hoisted sail with a fresh breeze and continued sailing all day. Encamped about 9 pm. a little above the mouth of Steel River.
16th, Monday. Fine weather. Tracked the whole day, except 1 hour stopt for breakfast. Entered the Hill River at 5 pm. and encamped a few miles up it at 9 o'clock.
17th, Tuesday. Day fine. In the evening showers of rain with thunder. Started at 2 am. Current very strong and rapidious. Encamped at 1/2 past 8 o'clock 2 pipes below the Rock. Wm. Spence with letters from YF overtakes us this evening.
18th. Wet morning, fine day. Started at 1/2 past 3 am. cleared the Rock Portage by 1/2 past 6 o'clock. Arrived at Borwick's Falls by 8 and hauled up at a 1/4 past 9. At 11 came to the White Mud Portage which we cleared by 1/4 past 12. Thence proceeded on and hauled up the Point of rocks Rapid by 3 pm. Made another short hauling place and entered the still water about 6 o'clock. Encamped among the Rapids at the head of it at 9 o'clock.
19th, Thursday. Light showers of rain at intervals during the day. Started at 2 am. and arrived at Brassy's Portage at 5. Hauled up it with half cargoes and left it at 7 -- then hauled and poled up the Lower Flats and reached the Lower Burntwood portage at 10, which we cleared and took breakfast by 1/2 past 12 o'clock. At 1/2 past 1 we reached the South side Hauling place where we took out half cargoes and cleared it in 2 hours. Mr. C[uthbert?] Grant with 2 boats from Red River passes us on his way to YF. Afterward ascended some bad Rapids. At Morgan's Rocks one of our Boats gets stove while passing within a small island to gain the foot of the Rapid. Cargo very little wetted -- delayed, repair the boat 2 hours. Leaving Morgan's Rock we proceed to U. Burntwood Portage which having cleared we went to the Rocky Launcher and encamped at 10 pm.
20th, Friday. Fine weather. Began our day's march at 1/2 past 2 am. Cleared the Rocky Launcher, Swampy and Smooth rocky Portages and reached the Mossy Portage by 1/2 past 10 am. Here we occupied 5 hours afterwards with much difficulty get up the Upper Flats and Lurance's Boat meets with another accident. This causes us to encamp at the next portage rather earlier than usual.
21st. Slight rain in the morning. Fine warm day. Embark at 2 am. Shortly after leaving the Portage McKay's boat runs foul of a stone and knocks a hole in her stem. Put ashore about an hour to repair then make the Upper Portage and a lightening place [demi-charge] which holds us till about noon. Continued the remainder of the day poling and hauling a succession of very strong rapids. Encamped on an Island near the top of Hill River at 9 pm. Heavy rain in the evening.
22nd, Sunday. Heavy rain this morning. Started a little after 2 am. Come up to Mr. [James] Leith &c with 2 boats just ready to leave the 2nd portage in Little Jack River at 1/2 past 11 am. Cleared it ourselves by 1/2 past 3 pm. Arrived at the Up. Portage between 7 & 8 o'clock. People carried over the cargoes and got up the Boats over the first brink of the Fall and encamped about 9 pm.
23rd. Rained all last night and continued at intervals during the day. Cleared the Portage by 5 am. Proceeded in the Knee Lake pulling against a head wind (S.E.). In the afternoon overtake Mr. Nolin with 2 boats for R.R. Men's provisions reduced to Peas and water. Encamped on an Island a short distance beyond the Knee about 9 pm.
Diary of a Journey from Fort Vancouver in 1835, The Return Journey from York Factory, by James Douglas:
Thursday July 16th. At 3 o'clock in the afternoon of this day we took our departure from York Factory on our return to the Columbia. We are two boats in company and we expect to overtake within the course of a day or two 7 more boats which left this yesterday. In these boats [blank in mss.] the Columbia party consisting of 21 labourers and 3 passengers are embarked and will assist in transporting the property required for the trade of that district as far as Edmonton where we leave them to their own resources. At Norway House we will be joined by two additional gentlemen, and one more in the Sascatchewan forming in all 27 persons besides two families. The boats are manned with crews of 7 men, and a few of 8 men, but many of them are suffering from the effects of severe colds contracted at York, or in the journey downwards, which in several cases has rendered the sufferer unfit for duty, and in many instances, particularly with the natives terminated by inflammatory diseases of the lungs, generally proving fatal. A cold North East wind blowing off the ice on the Bay accompanied with rain. Encamped 12 miles distant from the Fort.
Friy. 17. Blowing a breeze from the same quarter as yesterday which enabled us to use the sail during the whole day. Overtook the 7 boats mentioned yesterday as having preceded us. Cold hazy weather with rain. Encamped at the lower end of Steel River.
Sat. 18. Clear, pleasant weather. Made use of the sail during the early part of the day, but the wind failing us we were forced to have recourse to the tracking line during the afternoon. Encamped 6 miles in Hill River.
Sun. 19. Made use of tracking line the whole day.
Mon. 20. Proceeded on with the tracking line until 11 o'clock when we reached the Rock carrying place which occupied two full hours -- Borwick's Falls 2 hours more; the White Mud portage 2 hours more, a little above which we encamped for the night.
Friday 21. Leaving our encampment we carried part of our cargo at the Point of Rocks; remained 5 hours at Brassey where the whole cargo was carried. Encamped at the Lower Burntwood where the whole Cargo was also carried.
Wedy 22 & Thursday 23rd. Passed South side of landing place and Morgan's Rocks without discharging a package. At the little Rocky Launcher & Little Burntwood carried Boat and cargo at Smooth Rock, Mossy and 2nd carrying place, and encamped in Bird's Lake [probably named for James Bird, HBC furtrader].
Friday 24. Passed Bird's Creek early in the morning, Upper Carrying Place, and encamped in Bird's Lake. [sic]
Saty. 25. Crossed Logan's Lake and entered Jack River; at the upper end of the 1st portage encamped.
Suny. 26. Passed the 2nd and 3rd Portage Hill River and encamped on Knee Lake. The country from the Factory to this place is thickly wooded with the spruce, larch, the Scotch fir, patches of poplars, and dwarf birch, with willow in the vicinity of waters. Generally speaking the surface of the soil is covered with a thick coating of lichen, amongst which the Labrador tea plant grows with great luxuriance. The only other plants I observed are the French Willow, and Cranberry (Herbes Troid?) and two other plants with whose names and properties I am not acquainted. In some few places a kind of long wiry grass is found, but as I have already mentioned this is peculiarly the country of the lichen. The banks particularly of Hill River rise to a considerable elevation; in other places they are low and possess a very uninteresting appearance. The soil which lies immediately under the lichen in places consists of a reddish clay, in others a vegetable decomposition with a slight mixture of clay. Large masses of white granite are observed all along the river, and with the exception of some islands in Knee Lake where the Rock is of a very dark red colour, Granite is the only mineral observable as far as Norway House. Amongst the productions of this part of the country, I omitted to mention the alder tree and the red blue currant bush.
Journal of a Trip from Vancouver to York Factory, Spring 1847, by Thomas Lowe:
Thursday 15th July. Started from York Factory at 11 am. with 2 boats, in one of which is C.F. [John] Rowand and Mr. O'Brien, and in the other Mr. Ferdinand McKenzie & myself as passengers. We are loaded with goods for the Saskatchewan, 6 pieces per boat and 8 men besides the Steersman. The water this season is unusually low, otherwise we would have been more loaded. Mr. Rowand retires this year to Canada. Mr. O'Brien is for McKenzie's River, and Mr. McKenzie accompanies me to the Columbia. Warm day, and a fine breeze up the river Only got as far as 18 mile Island, where we encamped.
Friday 16th. Fine fair weather, and a favorable breeze up the River. Got as far as the Forks, where Fox River falls into Steel (or Great) River.
Saturday 17th. Weather still fair. Detained until breakfast time getting Mr. Rowand's boat mended. Got up to within a short distance of the junction of Hill River with Steel River.
Sunday 18th. Fair during the day, but in the evening came on to rain hard, with a very severe thunder storm. Made good progress, although the water is very low.
Monday 19th. Overtook the Saskatchewan Brigade this forenoon, which started a day before us from YF and the whole 11 boats then went on together. Tracking all day.
Tuesday 20th. Very rainy. Detained for some time on this account. Made but little progress.
Wednesday 21st. Rained very hard last night, but did not make an early start. Got to the Rock about noon, and made the portage. We then separated into 3 Brigades, Mr. Rowand going ahead with 2 boats, one boat with 3 others forming the second in charge of John Ballenden [an important character in The Pathfinder when he was in charge at Fort Vancouver]; and the last division consisting of 5 boats, in one of which were Messrs. O'Brien & Ross. We then proceeded with our 5 boats, and made portages at Borwick's Falls and the White Mud; at which latter place we encamped, the pieces only having been taken across tonight, the boats remaining still at the lower end of the Rapid.
Thurs. 22nd. Rained heavy during the night. In the morning the boats were brought up, and in the course of the day we made a portage at the Point of Rocks. Thunderstorm in the afternoon, which made us put ashore for about an hour. In the evening made Brassy Portage, and encamped at the lower end.
Friday 23rd. Rained heavy last night, and a little this morning, but kept fair during the day. Got the pieces taken across Brassy before breakfast. Met two boats from Oxford House on their way to YF at the upper end of the Portage. In the afternoon got the pieces across the portages at Morgan's Rocks and the Lower Burning Wood, and encamped not far from the Rocky Launcher.
Saturday 24th. Fine weather. The boats and cargoes were taken across the Rocky Launcher first thing in the morning, and before breakfast we had likewise made a Portage at the Upper Burning Wood. In the forenoon met 3 boats from Oxford House on their way to YF. In the afternoon got the pieces across the Smooth Rocks and Mossy Portages, and then proceeded to the Flats above; but as there was very little water, we did not succeed in getting through, and were obliged to camp in the middle of them.
Sunday 25th. Fine day.Dragged the boats through the remainder of the Flats, and got the pieces across the 2nd carrying place in Hills River before breakfast. Made Portages in course of the day at the Upper carrying place, Devil's Landing Place & Greenwater Island, at the two former places however only half the pieces were taken out. Encamped at the head of Greenwater Island which is the last Portage in Hill River, making 15 between this and the Rock. Two of the boats were slightly broken today, and some time was necessarily spent in repairing them.
Monday 26th. Fine warm weather. Got through the remainder of Hill River today, and came through Bird's Lake, and part of Logan's Lake. Encamped on an Island in the latter, where there was a camp of Indians, abreast of the old Fort. Head wind all day.
Tuesday 27th. Fair during the day, but rained towards evening, had to camp sooner in consequence. Got through the remainder of Logan's Lake, and made Portages at the Lower Carrying Place, Long Carrying Place, and 2nd carrying place in Jack River, and encamped at the foot of the Upper carrying place.
Wednesday 28th. Got the pieces across the Upper Carrying Place before breakfast, and reached the end of Jack River about 10 am. Had a strong side wind in Knee Lake, which carried us very nearly to the end of it before night. Drizzling rain most of the day.
Journal from Vancouver to York Factory with Express, Spring 1848, by Thomas Lowe:
Friday 14th. Cold unpleasant weather, with heavy showers of rain at intervals. Mr. Rowand and I started with the last boat this afternoon about 2 o'clock from York Factory, and had a fine wind for a short distance, but it soon died away, and as the men had made too free with their regale before leaving we made poor progress, and encamped at 6 mile island.
Saturday 15th. Very warm and fair in the forenoon, but in the afternoon showery. Passed the Pennygatawny about 12 o'clock, and made good progress afterwards, tracking.
Sunday 16th. Oppressively warm and swarms of mosquitoes. Passed the Nipigon river at 8 am and kept on tracking the whole day.
Monday 17th. Fair and warm. Got to the Hill river this morning at 7 o'clock, and camped a short distance beyond Dancing Point. In the evening met Magnus Harper on his way to York with 3 boats, manned by Indians.
Tuesday 18th. Fine weather. Reached the Rock at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and got the pieces across, and the boat hauled up in a very short time, as the water is in a good state this year. Made the portage, likewise Berwick Falls, and encamped a short distance beyond.
Wednesday 19th. Cold disagreeable weather, but no rain. Made a portage at the White Mud early in the morning, and overtook the two Cumberland boats at the Portage at the Point of Rocks, where (after having got the pieces across) we breakfasted with Mr. Deschambeault. Had a fine fair wind in the Still Water, & passed the Hill about 2 pm. Got to Brassy at 5 o'clock and encamped a short distance above it.
Thursday 20th. Fair warm weather. Made portages in course of the day at the Lower Burning Wood, Morgan's Rock, Rocky Launcher, and Upper Burning Wood. At the last two places had to haul the boat across. Encamped a short distance below the Smooth Rock Portage.
Friday 21st. Cloudy, and a few peals of thunder. Made portages at the Smooth Rocks and Mossy before breakfast. At the first of these places met three boats from Oxford on their way to York, and at the latter overtook the Saskatchewan Brigade of 8 boats, which left the Factory two days before us. In the afternoon got across the 2nd and Upper Carrying Places, and in the evening above the Devil's Landing Place, where we encamped only having to take out about half the loads at that place.
Saturday 22nd. Fine weather. Lost a great deal of time this morning in the Rapids above our Encampment, as the Brigade took a long time in getting up these strong places with the pole. Took out 10 pieces per boat at Greenwater Island, and hauled the Boats up with the rope. Strong Rapids nearly all the way afterwards to Birds Lake. Got about 5 miles in Logan's Lake and encamped.
Sunday 23rd. Got through the remainder of Logans Lake, and made a portage at the Lower Carrying Place in Jack River before breakfast. Made a portage afterwards at the Long Carrying Place and encamped at the lower end of the 2nd carrying place about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, as it came on a heavy thunderstorm with rain and snow, which continued all night.
Monday 24th. Remained in our campement for 4 hours after daylight this morning on account of the rain, and afterwards got the pieces across the 2nd & Upper Carrying Places, and remained at the latter until 2 pm. waiting for the first Brigade of 4 boats to come in sight. Started after they arrived, and having got to the end of Jack River had a fair wind for some time in Knee Lake, but it soon came ahead, and we only made about 10 miles in the Lake before encamping.
Journal of the Columbia Express Party, 1849, by John Charles:
17th/22nd July. The Saskatchewan boats being all ready by 6 o'clock this morning we left the Factory. F[rederick] Lewes [son of John Lee Lewes] and I being passengers in the boat steered by the Columbia guide. On the 22nd we made the Rock portage and passed the night a little way above, called Rock Fort. We had rainy weather every day since leaving the Factory.
23rd, Monday. This morning we came to a strong rapid called Petit Charge de Penette where the boats were discharged of half their cargoes and hauled up by the main line. We made two other Portages before night namely the Grand Charge de Penette and the White Mud. Messrs. Rowand and Harriott who left the Factory a day after we did overtook us and went ahead.
24th, Tuesday. In coming up a strong rapid a little below Brassy Portages one of the boats struck on a rock and let in water which damaged a bag of sundry articles belonging to C.F. Rowand. Before the damage was repaired and we were able to proceed it was noon the accident having occurred at 8 am. At Portage Cadotte we found Mr. Spencer who was left there by Mr. Harriott to examine the bales in the Columbia boat and to see them dried.
25th, Wednesday. Got over two portages to day viz the Rock and Burnt Wood. Mr. Spencer opened six bales at the latter place, but it came on to rain so heavily that nothing could be done.
26th, Thursday. Rained heavily all night and this morning until about 7 o'clock, when we started. We got over the portages Gulle and Muscaag [Muskeg?]. Encamped between the latter place and the Flat. We were overtaken this evening by the Swan River boats.
27th, Friday. The boats were this morning a considerable time in toiling up a strong current called the Hats. After making a portage we put ashore at a point of rocks where the wet bales were again opened out, the weather, however would not admit of their being dried in a hurry. We were, therefore, obliged to differ [defer] the drying until to morrow, when from the present appearance of the sky we expect to have a little sunshine. Encamped at the upper end of another portage.
28th, Saturday. Made one portage to day and entered Logans Lake. Had several showers of rain towards evening.
29th, Sunday. Sailed through Logans Lake and encamped at the end of it.
Though it is not mentioned in John Charles' actual journal, the next day they reached and passed through Knee Lake.
Those of you who have read my posting about young John Charles will be watching for something that will lead to his unfortunate end at Moose Encampment, in Athabasca Pass.
I have discovered that, at the insistence of his father, John Charles' body was removed from the place where he was buried and brought down to Fort Vancouver.
When, I do not yet know.
But James Anderson, son of Alexander Caulfield Anderson, wrote in his Memoirs, p. 121:
"[John Charles'] body was buried on the spot, but at the instance [sic] of his father, was some years after brought to Fort Vancouver and interred in the cemetery there.
"A useless, and as it turned out, a most unwise proceeding, as the last time I saw the grave it was in the parade ground of the U.S. troops garrisoned at Fort Vancouver and is now, I suppose, unmarked and unremembered."
This will help you further identify the spot:James wrote on page 207 of those same memoirs, "Behind the garden [of Fort Vancouver] on a slight rise about half a mile from the Fort were the barracks of the United States troops. In front of the Fort and for a mile or more up the river was a flat plain where the U.S. troops exercised."
Sooner or later I hope to stumble across the letter that George Simpson wrote to John Charles' father, so that I can learn the rest of this interesting story.
Though John Charles had a short life, it was an interesting life and he played a part in some very important history.
Some of you will have realized that he accompanied Peter Skene Ogden to Fort Nez Perces, after the Waiilatpu Massacre in December 1847.
If you don't know that story, you will have to go back a dozen or most posts in this blog, to learn what happened then.