Sunday, September 30, 2012

From Edmonton House to Carlton House

When Alexander Caulfield Anderson arrived at Edmonton House with the outgoing express, in 1842, he brought in some items to trade.
Now I am presuming that he brought the skins in on his outgoing journey, but delayed in picking up the items he traded them for until he returned to Edmonton House in the fall.
The transactions are found in the Edmonton Account Book, 1842-1843, B.60/d/71, HBCA, and this is what it says:
A.C. Anderson, Clerk
June 18, 1842 To 1 large D. Red deer skin, Credit, 4.6
[same date] 1 large Moose do., Credit, 6.
August 24, 1 4/4 Com. Cotton Handscf, Dr. .0.8
[same date] 2 1/2 ydrs. Girthing, Dr. 2.4
September 16, 2/3 [yards] white Strouds, Dr. 3.9
[same date] 2/3 white duffle, Dr. 1.8

Now, I had Duffle and Strouds in my book, and during the editing process they got cut!
They were items common to the fur trade; everyone wore them.
Do you know what they are?
They are fabrics -- heavy, warm, densely woven wool fabrics, very similar to each other.
The Duffle came from Holland or the Netherlands; the Stroud from Stroud, in England (hence the name).
If you still cannot picture the heavy woven fabric, then think "dufflecoat."
That is exactly the fabric we are speaking of!

We will continue with our downiver journey toward Norway House and York Factory.
There is a wonderful and unexpected surprise in this posting, and I hope you enjoy the story!
I will say no more.

York Factory Express Journal of 1827, by Edward Ermatinger:
Wednesday, 23rd [May]. Fine warm weather. 6 boats receive their cargoes in order to be off to morrow morning.
Thursday, 24th. Do [ditto]. Boats start this morning; afternoon Mr. Stuart and party arrive.
Friday, 25th. Do. 8 boats more receive their loading.
Saturday, 26th. Do. The boats leave Edmonton at 9 am. Passengers C[hief] F[actors] Stuart, & [John] Rowand, Messrs. [David] Douglas, [Finan] McDonald, Harriott, McDougal and E.E. [Ermatinger]. Manned Mr. Stuart's boat 5 men, Mr. R's 4 and the rest 3 each. Proceed till 8 pm. and encamp, distance 50 miles.
27th, Sunday. Strong head wind. Start at 1/2 past 3 am. Saw some Crees from whom a few Beaver &c are traded; detained afternoon 2 hours for one of the Boats unable to keep up. Mr. McDonald kills a red deer [elk]. Put ashore at 8 pm. to cook; afterwards lash the boats together and drive all night.
Monday 28th. Head wind begin to row at sunrise. Breakfast at the old Fort George [Endnote #1] In the evening put ashore at Vermillion Creek. People go off in chase of Red Deer kill a cabris. After stopping about 2 hours start again and proceed a short distance to an Island where we stop to supper. No signs of the other six boats; supposed we passed then in the night as they had orders not to proceed farther than Dog Rump Creek. Make a large fire for signal. Embark again to drift all night.
Tuesday 29th. Fine weather. Wind ahead. Continue rowing from daylight till sunset, at intervals, and then put ashore to supper after which go little below to sleep. See Red Deer several times 3 are killed.
Wednesday, 30th. Wind still ahead. Start at sunrise. Do not proceed far when we see 5 buffalo crossing the river, pursue them and kill two. People go hunting on both sides of the River. On each side they kill two bulls; fetching home the meat occupies the rest of the men till night. Push off and go to sleep at Island out of sight of our fires.
Thursday, 31st. Wind still easterly. Proceed down the River a few miles till we come up to two of our men who have been absent hunting since yesterday morning. They have each killed a Bull; 16 men set off immediately to bring home the meat. Men return with 1 1/2 animals, the rest having been consumed by wolves. Continue again a short distance and put ashore where animals appear to be numerous. People go off hunting, return afternoon having killed 11 bulls. All hands employed carrying the meat to the boats, 1 too lean, thrown away. Encamp.
June. Friday, 1st. Fine weather. Wind strong ahead. Early this morning some of the men employed bringing down the remainder of the animals killed yesterday. Also 5 more Bulls by Salois and afterwards we procured 2 cows and 2 bulls. Proceed down 2 or 3 miles and encamp.
Saturday, 2nd. Make an early start and proceed till near noon. See many herds of Buffalo. Hunters go off in pursuit. Mr. Harriott kills 2, Salois, one. Men fetch the meat. Continue our journey having been here 4 or 5 hours; in the evening more animals in sight. Mr. H. goes off and kills 2 bulls, a very serious accident attends the evening's hunting. Mr. H. having wounded two other Bulls goes off with a view of getting them, accompanied by Messrs. F. McDonald and E.E. On approaching them they made off. Mr. H. pursued and overtook one, followed by Mr. McD. The former fired but did not bring the Bull down. Mr. McD's rifle snapped and while he was endeavouring to distinguish his object in the dark of night to have another shot the animal rushed toward him with utmost impetuosity. Mr. McD as soon as he perceived him, which was not till he was very close, tried to escape by running across a small plain to shelter himself as it appeared to him in a hummock of woods, but before he reached it he became out of breath and threw himself down trusting to fate. The first blow the animal gave him he tossed him with great violence and gored the most fleshy part of the thigh nearly to the bone. Mr. McD after this seized him by the wool of the head and held him for some time, but the immense power of the animal obliged him to quit his hold, on doing this, he supposes, he dislocated his wrist. He remembers having received 6 blows, one of which was so dreadful that his whole side is bruised black and blue and some of his ribs appear to be broken. The last furious butt made him call out, and what is very strange the Bull at the same instant fell down as if a ball had struck him. In this state they both remained for above an hour while Mr. H. ran to the Boats at least 2 miles distant for assistance, Mr. E. remaining near the spot to point it out, for altho' these two gentlemen heard and saw as far as the darkness of the night permitted the whole of this distressing affair, they were unable to render immediate relief, lest in firing at the Bull they might kill the man. A large armed party being collected were devising means of extricating Mr. McD from his painful situation, when one of the men's guns went off in the air by accident. This caused the Bull to rise. He looked at the party attentively for a moment and then galloped off. Mr. McD whom they found perfectly sensible altho' he had fainted several times, as he himself says, also states that the Bull watched him the whole time they lay together and that he durst not stir. The animal, too, he says appeared to suffer much groaning and vomiting blood a great deal. The ground around bore evident marks of this deplorable catastrophe, being gored up in many places and covered with blood; a shot pouch which Mr. McD wore at his left side, made of thick sealskin, covered with porcupine quills and stuffed with rags, &c, for wadding was found to be pierced thro' and thro' and must have saved his life, altho' he was not aware when this happened. He was conveyed upon blankets fastened upon poles on the men's shoulders to the Boat and in order to reach Carlton as soon as possible, we drift down the river all night in hopes of finding Dr. Richardson (Sir John Richardson) at that place. His wounds were dressed as well as the means of the party permitted.
Sunday, 3rd. Overcast with light rain. Commence rowing at daylight and continue till breakfast. Afterwards hoist sail with a light breeze which freshens and carries us till we pass the Elbow. Our course North, wind ahead, row till 9 pm. Encamp.
Monday, 4th. Overcast and cold light rain. Continue at daylight, the 6 boats which left Edmonton on the 24th overtake us at breakfast. Arrive at Carlton afternoon. People set about making Pemican, &c.

[Endnote #1] Fort George was built by Angus Shaw in autumn 1792, and abandoned in 1801. It was one of several Saskatchewan posts to which the name of Fort des Prairies attached and was a place of importance.

Express Journal, Spring 1828, by Edward Ermatinger:
20th, [May]. Fine weather. About 9 am. all the Boats, say 16, leave Edmonton manned, 13 Boats each 3 men and 3 in 4 do. and laden with about 80 pieces per Boat. In course of the day see a party of Crees and trade a few furs, dressed leather &c., for ammunition, tobacco and Rum. Encamp at 9 o'clock.
21st. Warm weather. Start at 3 am. Afternoon see another party of Crees from [whom] trade furs, leather &c. Put ashore at 8 o'clock to cook and sup and afterwards lash the Boats together to drift all night.
22nd. Fine weather. Pass Dog Rump Creek about 6 am. Kill a deep -- put ashore to cook in the evening -- drift all night.
23rd. Warm weather. Boats ground many times during the day. See several deer. Put ashore at Bas fond dinoge about 5 pm. Hunters go off in search of Buffalo. After supper proceed 3 or 4 miles to an Island and encamp.
24th. Fine weather. Continue our voyage at daylight. Put ashore to breakfast at 1/2 past 8 am. and people go off hunting but fall in with no animals. Start again about 11 and are only able to proceed about 2 miles when the wind being too strong ahead we put ashore where some fresh tracks being observed another party was sent off hunting but return unsuccessful. Toward evening two young moose take the River just above our camp and are both killed by some of the half breeds. Wind having abated before sunset push off and make a short distance. Shortly after starting a large grizzly Bear was wounded by Mr. [John] Rowand and notwithstanding a large ball passed thro' his body and knocked him down, he escaped for some distance. A party pursued and were tracking him by his blood, when a rustling in the branches pointed out the spot where he had couched -- all the guns were cocked ready to pour a volley upon him, but before the party had time to look about them he sprang thro' the thicket with a dreadful crash, seized one of the men and with his teeth bit him in many parts of the body. He also bestowed a pat on the back of a second, tore his shirt and marked him besides making an attempt at a third. A dog which happened to pass at the time drew Bruin's attention toward him and prevented his doing more mischief to the people and gave also an opportunity of firing at him, which could not well be done while ha had a man in his possession for fear of shooting the wrong object. The dog got only one of his thighs bitten and the Bear was killed after having received at least 1/2 doz. Balls. Camped for the night.
Sunday, 25th. Fine weather. Wind ahead strong. Start at daylight. At breakfast time people go off hunting. Kill a Bull but only bring part of it. Start again at 1/2 past 7 pm. Drift.
26th. Fine weather. Pull all day and encamp at the Grand Sucrerie (candy?).
27th. Do. Arrive at Carlton about 7 am.

James Douglas, Diary of a Journey from Fort Vancouver in 1835:
Saty. 2nd May. Left Edmonton at 8 o'clock am. Encamped at Carp River.
Suny 3rd. Encamped a few miles below the crooked Fall or Rapide Croche. The river is so very low that our progress is continually interrupted by the numerous banks of gravel and scattered rocks which are concealed from view by a small depth of untransparent fluid. The boats are incessantly taking ground on the one hand or striking heavily on the others, and the crews on these occasions have no other way of clearing these obstacles but by leaping out and dragging them into deeper water, which is certainly not an agreeable pastime on a cold morning with ice forming all around them. We are surrounded on all sides by a fine country possessing all the natural beauties which can be well imagined in a wild uncultivated region. The banks of the river are lined with a narrow strip of trees, beyond which commences the extensive prairie embellished and diversified with waving groves of trees, and refreshing streams of water. These prairies are the favourite resort of the Moose and Red Deer, and they are also visited by a numerous herds of buffaloes [sic], and there cannot be a more cheerful or pleasing sight than to see the whole country teeming with life, and forcibly reminding the spectator of the flocks & herds of more favoured lands where the mild virtues of religion and civilization have refined and improved the human mind. The natives who inhabit this country are:
The Blackfeet, 300 tents
The Piegan, 500 tents
The Bood, 400 tents
Gros Ventres or Fall, 250 tents
Circus, 100 tents
Crees
The first three named tribes speak the same language and may be regarded as different families, having one common origin. The latter are distinct from the first, and from each other both in language, in appearance and in the general features of character. The Piegans, Blackfeet and Fall Indians are friendly and well disposed, but the Blood Indians are a fierce and violent people detested by all their neighbours. These tribes dispose of their dead in a manner which evinces none of the intense grief, or the fine and tender feelings which are found among other natives. Excepting in rare cases wherein a powerful chief, or a near and dear relative is concerned, the dead are simply wrapped in Buffalo robes and cast into the woods where they are quickly devoured by the wild animals which are always numerous about their camps.
They have some idea of a future state, and imagine that their spirits are received into the Buttes de Table, a place on the Bow River, where they enjoy uninterrupted felicity entirely of a spiritual nature.
Mon. 4 May. Encamped a short distance above Moose River.
Tues. 5. Fort Pitt. The weather exceedingly cold and unpleasant. We arrived here just in time to escape a heavy storm of hail and snow which continued to pour down upon us for nearly a full hour. Here are 40 tents of Cree Indians encamped around the fort apparently with the view of being protected against any sudden attack of their enemies. A month or two ago a War party consisting of 300 strong wood and Beaver Hill Crees made a hostile incursion into the Blackfoot Country, and accidentally fell in with a straggling party of 20 Circus warriors who on perceiving the enemy threw themselves into a thicket of trees, and after hastily constructing a temporary barricade boldly opened a spirited fire on the Crees who not relishing the idea of a rapid advance on their determined enemy contented themselves with maintaining a weak and desultory fire during the day. In the night the Circus who were not very strictly guarded escaped from their fortification leaving 11 of their number on the field of battle; of Crees, 3 killed and 10 wounded. The Circus who escaped reached their main camp and a strong party of their friends gave pursuit to the Crees who took up a strong position in the woods, where they could not be attacked but at a manifest disadvantage; and the two parties finally separated without any further attempt on either side. The whole Cree tribe are now living in continual alarm and are just on the wing for a flight to the strong woods where they may live in perfect security.
Wednesday 6. A cold frosty morning. Continued our journey this morning at 7 o'clock. Encamped a little above Manchester House.
Thurs. 7. Cold weather. Encamped a little above Battle River.
Friday 8. Above Lower Eagle Creek.
Sat. 9. Carlton.

Journal of a Voyage from Fort Vancouver, Columbia, to York Factory,Hudson's Bay, 1841, by George Traill Allan:
Friday 21st [May]. Having picked out six of my best men and the Guide at Mr. Harriott's request we once more abandoned the horses and embarking in a Boat began to descend the River Saskatchewan.
Sunday 23rd. We reached Fort Pitt, a small Fort under charge of Mr. Alexander Fisher and having received from him an additional supply of provisions continued our voyage. In our descent of the Saskatchewan nothing very interesting occurred. The Country on both sides the River is low and plains of immense extent meet the eye in every direction, with stripes of wood along the banks. The water of this River at this season is very thick and muddy and produces the illness when long confined to its use. At certain seasons of the year Buffalo are extremely numerous along the banks; at present we saw none, but abundance of Antelope, Wolves, some Red Deer or Elk and Black Bears. Buffalo were so numerous last year that the Hunters attached to Fort Edmonton alone killed four hundred head. The Fort last mentioned is built upon the Saskatchewan and is of great strength, having a balcony all round with a bastion at each angle in which we kept always charged a number of fire arms, there is also an observatory of considerable height which commands an extensive view of the adjacent country. All these precautions are by no means unnecessary as Edmonton is frequented by bands of Blackfeet, Assiniboines and other lawless tribes who consider it almost a duty to plunder & even murder a white man when opportunity offers. Mr. Harriott himself, who came to the Country when quite a boy and is much liked by the natives generally, being upon a voyage once, accompanied only by two men, fell in with a band of Assiniboines to whom he was well known and as it is almost a universal custom when we meet Indians to give them where-with to smoke, he drew up his horse and in order to get the Tobacco from his pocket laid the gun for a moment across his saddle, he had no sooner done so than an Indian snatched it up. Mr. Harriott was now defenceless and his two men were in the same predicament, their arms being taken from them by force. To endeavour to retake them was useless; they therefore returned to the Fort, too happy to escape with their lives; and had it been any one but Mr. Harriott ten to one had they never returned.
Tuesday 25th. We reached Fort Carlton in charge of Mr. Small; this Fort is just a duplicate of Edmonton, upon a smaller scale. We were now again about to change our mode of travelling.

Journal of a Trip from Vancouver to York Factory, Spring, 1847, by Thomas Lowe, in charge of party:
Saturday, 22nd [May]. Started from Edmonton this morning at daylight in a light boat, to go down the Saskatchewan. There were two boats, in one of which were Messrs [John] Rowand, O'Brien, Pelly & McDougall, and in the other Mr. ..... and myself. Pulled against a strong head wind the whole day. A great many carcasses of drowned buffalo along the banks. Fair and warm.
Sunday 23rd. Fine weather, and fair wind. Sailed most part of the day.
Monday 24th. Fine weather, but light contrary wind. Reached Fort Pitt at 3 pm. where we found the Brigade of boats, which had started before us from Edmonton.
Tuesday 25th. Fine pleasant weather. The boats were loaded today. There are in all 23 boats, having only 3 men per boat, including the steersman. From this place they have each 85 pieces which however will be considerably increased when they leave Carlton.
Wednesday 26th. Started from Fort Pitt this morning at daylight. Blowing a strong breeze ahead until breakfast time, when it changed and we were under sail the remainder of the day. The river is very low, and the boats lose much time by running aground on the Battures.
Thursday 27th. Fair weather. Pulled before breakfast, but sailed a good deal afterwards. Encamped at Battle River.
Friday 28th. Fine fair day. Had a good strong breeze, which enabled us to make a long distance.
Saturday 29th. Strong favourable breeze. Reached Carlton at 3 pm.
Sunday 30th. Fine weather. Men did no work today.
Monday 31st. Showery. Loading the boats, with the pieces from this place. Here a large quantity of grease & leather had to be left, as there was [no] means of taking the whole down.
Tuesday, 1st June. Raining at intervals during the day. Completed the ladings. There are now 110 pieces per boat, in addition to the 23 boats with which we arrived here, the brigade is to be increased by 1 batteau and 1 boat from the place.

For your information: Batteaux are flat-bottom boats, while York boats have keels.

Journal from Vancouver to York Factory with Express, Spring 1848, by Thomas Lowe:
Thursday 25th [May]. Fine weather. Started this morning from Edmonton after an early breakfast to descend the Saskatchewan, with a brigade of 5 boats, in 3 of which were passengers. In one were Messr. Harriott, [Paul] Kane, and Clare, in another Mr. Fraser, his son, myself, and Dr. Kennedy's two boys, and in the third Bishop Demers and Robert Logan. Each boat had a cargo of 30 pieces and a crew of 6 men, including the steersman. Sailed for some part of the day, and as the River is rather high, made a good distance. Drifted all night.
Friday 26th. Cloudy. Passed a camp of Crees before breakfast. Our boat is in a very leaky state and gives us constant employment baling out the water. Sailed for a considerable time today, and drifted at night.
Saturday 27th. Weather still very cloudy. Arrived at Fort Pitt immediately after breakfast, where we found that the 13 boats which had started from Edmonton on Tuesday had only arrived about two hours before us. Had our boat hauled up and repaired. Several packs wet.
Sunday 28th. Blowing very strong up the river. Bishop Demers had divine worship in the fort during the day.
Monday 29th. Fine weather. Started from Fort Pitt after breakfast. The Brigade was here increased by 3 boats, making now 21 in all. Each boat had 4 men, including the steersman, and a cargo of 70 pieces. Made a good distance.
Tuesday 30th.  Fine day, but a strong head wind. Pulled until breakfast time, and were windbound the rest of the day. Pull an hour in the evening.
Wednesday 31st. Went on until breakfast time, when we were again stopped by the wind, and could not start until late in the afternoon, having the wind still ahead.
Thursday, June 1st. Fine weather, sailed most of the day.
Friday 2nd. Splendid sail wind all day, and made a long distance. In the afternoon met a large war party of Blackfeet, amounting to about 500 men. We had to put ashore for them twice, and Mr. Harriott made them some presents of tobacco. This is said to be one of the largest parties who have been here for many years. Rained all night. Encamped about 10 miles below the Elbow.
Saturday 3rd. Snowed the whole day, and we were unable to move from our encampment.
Sunday 4th. Started this morning, and arrived at Carlton about 9 am. Had all the pieces from this place put into the boats & everything ready for starting. One boat only joins the Brigade from this place, but the cargoes are increased by 25 pieces per boat, making a total of 95 pieces. Each boat takes from this place a large quantity of fresh meat, as pemmican this year is very scarce, there not being above half the quantity in the boats that has been requested from below. Fine fair weather, but very cold.

Journal of the Columbia Express Party, 1849, by John Charles:
28th, Monday [May]. The Columbia Boat and two others left Edmonton about 4 am. Mr. [John] Rowand having started two hours after us, but his boat being better manned came up to us at 3 o'clock pm.
29th, Tuesday. Drifted all last night. Weather very warm. Arrived at Fort Pitt an hour before sunset. We found here upwards of twenty boats awaiting our arrival. Report of Blackfeet prowling about the vicinity of this Fort and their intentions to molest us on our way down to Carlton.
30th, Wednesday. Making every preparation for a start to morrow. Mr. McDougall's returns have not yet arrived.
31st, Thursday. The Saskatchewan Brigade of twenty five boats laden with the returns  of the Upper establishments left Fort Pitt about 8 am. Sailed towards evening. Simpson, McDonald and Mr. [John Lee] Lewes and family with Mrs. [Francis] Ermatinger and child. Encamped at sunset.
1st [June], Friday. Cloudy weather. Had a pretty heavy shower of rain towards evening.
2nd, Saturday. Rained very heavily last night and the greater part of this day, so much so that we were obliged to put ashore and cover up the boats. We left again at 4 pm. and camped about 10 o'clock.
3rd, Sunday. Arrived at Carlton House about 3 o'clock pm.The boats on arriving were all discharged for the purpose of examining such packs as got wet on the voyage. Warm weather.
4th, Monday. Waited all day at the Fort expecting that Alexis Nault would arrived with the Lesser Slave Lake Returns.

Carlton House was established in the autumn of 1795 by James Bird, of the Hudson's Bay Company.
Its first location was below the junction of the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers, but in 1804 it was re-established 150 kilometers upstream on the South Saskatchewan River.
Six years later it was moved to its present location, next to a rival North West Company post on the North Saskatchewan at La Montee, a shallow ford.
Eventually the NWC men abandoned their fort, but the HBC men remained.
It was established to trade for furs and buffalo robes, but over time Carlton House (or Fort Carlton) became a provisioning fort, supplying the other forts with pemmican, venison, fish and berries -- food stuffs.
In a year when there was little pemmican (as is mentioned in one of these journals), everyone starved!
And in other journals you will see how many buffalo these men loaded on their boats.
They would have delivered this fresh meat to Fort Carlton, to be pounded and dried into pemmican.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Jasper's House to Edmonton House by York Factory Express

It was only 250 miles from Jasper's House to Fort Assiniboine, but as you can see, in some years the journey was quick and easy, while in others there were difficulties.
Fort Assinboine itself still exists as a small town, or hamlet, on the north bank of the Athabasca River west of Whitecourt, Alberta.
The horse portage between the Athabasca River and Edmonton House may have caused a lot of trouble in the early years, but many improvements were made on the road and travel over the road became easier.
But I think for the most part that all these travellers came over the improved road; certainly it was never easy travel for the horses.
The Saint Albert trail, which heads north west from Edmonton centre, is a remnant of the old portage, I have been told, and Edmonton House itself stood where the government buildings south of the current Parliament Buildings now stand.
The Parliament Buildings probably now stand on the place where the Indian camp outside the fort was -- a place where the drums never stopped beating.

There's a story in that which I will tell you at the end of this posting.

York Factory Express Journal, 1827, by Edward Ermatinger:
Saturday 5th [May] Fine warm weather. Embark with 6 men and old Paget a freeman at 1/2 past 4 am. taking with us all the furs at this place, say 7 packets. Stop 3/4 hour to breakfast. Afterwards 1 [hour] to gum our canoe. Encamp at 7pm. A great deal of ice along the banks of the [Athabasca] River.
Sunday 6th. ... Start 1/4 before 5 am. At 10 o'clock come up with Mr. [George] McDougal[McDougall] and 4 men from New Caledonia who have been following the ice these 9 days past from Jasper's House. Remain here 3 or 4 hours and proceed again 6 or 7 miles, the ice having given way so far. Mr. McDougal gets a bark canoe, left here by Mr. F[inan] McDonald last fall, repaired to take down in place of a skin one which he brought from Jasper's House.
[According to Bruce Watson (Lives Lived), Finan McDonald was at Boat Encampment in October 1826 on his way to the East, to retire.]
Monday, 7th. Fine warm weather. Make an attempt to continue our [sic] but soon stopt. However after breakfast having observed that by making a short portage we should gain a clear channel we again embark and succeed. Afterwards having occasion to put ashore and speak to some Indians about a boat left somewhere hereabouts by Mr. F. McDonald last fall we are overtaken by an immense quantity of loose floating ice which detains us above an hour till it is passed. We then make a fresh start to meet with no further impediment. As to the boat we find that it is a good distance above us in one of the channels blocked by ice when we passed which prevented us from seeing it. Arrive at Fort Assiniboine [75 miles northwest of Edmonton] at 8pm and learn that this Post has not provisions enough to furnish our men a meal the want of which was one reason for my not delaying longer to endeavour to get down the Boat.
Tuesday, 8th. Fine warm weather. As J[ohn] Stuart, Esq., has not yet arrived from L[esser] S[lave] Lake from whom alone we can expect a supply of provisions to put us to Edmonton and also having been given to understand by Mr. [John Edward] Harriott that the gentleman required a few more men to expedite his arrival, I determined on remaining here with the Express while the Columbia men in conjunction with those of New Caledonia should go down and assist him up with his craft. Accordingly, Mr. McDougal with 9 men in one canoe embarks for that purpose this morning. D[avid] Douglas, Esq., Passenger.
Wednesday, 9th. Fine warm weather. The three men left above and Nipisingue (Nipissing Indians) whom Mr. Rowand requested from Jasper's to act as guide for people going with Leather (express) arrive this afternoon, but without the Iroquois's Beaver one having come in and informed that they were unable to bring them the distance is so great and so much snow.
Thursday, 10th. Thick snow all day no arrivals.
Friday, 11th. Snowing all day. Bastonois treats his comrades with a dog.
Saturday, 12th. Light snow in the morning. Clears up before noon. Snow mostly disappears.
Sunday, 13th. Fine weather. In the evening J. Stuart, Esq., &c arrives with 3 canoes.
Monday, 14th. Fine weather. Take our departure from Assiniboine about 4 o'clock with 56 horses and men, part of the horses only being loaded. Proceed thro' the woods between 4 and 5 miles and encamp at a small creek. Many deep mires. Horses very poor and weak.
Tuesday, 15th. Weather rather overcast. Start at 7 am. Breakfast at the Riviere Creuse (Picher or Cruche Creek). Road to it very bad full of mires ascend several hills. Several horses remain behind unable to come farther light. Men sent back to endeavour to bring them up, report one to be dead. Mr. McDougal with a man goes ahead to Edmonton to inform of the state of the horses &c. Proceed again having rested the horses 5 hours and encamp at Les Deux Rivieres. Distance of today's journey between 10 and 12 miles. Killed 2 geese and 2 ducks.
Wednesday, 16th. Morning fine towards evening several claps of thunder. Shower of hail and successive showers of rain. Start between 7 and 8 am. Proceed thro' thick woods. Swamps about 8 miles and take breakfast at first prairie. Afterwards continue for near 5 miles and encamp in the woods across the 2nd prairie. Our road the whole of this day has been thro' one continued mire -- several horses too weak to come up with the rest, tho' light. Two men return to bring them up but are unable.
Thursday, 17th. Fine morning. Start 6 am. Proceed 1 1/2 mile and arrive at the Paddle River (a tributary of the Pembina River), make a raft and get our baggage across in about 3 hours afterwards go on 3 miles and stop to breakfast. Detained here several hours by rain. Again continue 7 miles and arrive at the Pembina River. The road from Paddle Rives lies along the borders of small lakes, thro' swamps and woods, the track thro' the latter being in some cases extremely bad much fallen wood and deep mires.
Friday, 18th. Fine morning. Mr. Stuart's craft not having yet arrived, people set about making 3 rafts. These being made cross over all the property and load 20 horses herewith. Proceed to Lac la Nane (Nun Lake) distance 5 or 6 miles. Set a net. Two men also repair a weir already made in the River. Find here Cardinalle, a freeman, and family with several tents of Indians. Mr. Stuart remains at Pembina with the rest of the horses to wait his people.
Sunday, 19th. Fine warm weather. Our net last night yielded 60 carp and the weir 30 carp and pike, 9 horses are returned to assist Mr. Stuart in bringing forward his pieces. Afterwards 3 men sent off to clear the road ahead of fallen wood and also to make a wear (weir) at Berland's Lake to supply fish on our arrival.
Sunday, 20th. Fine warm weather. Our fishing yield about the same quantity as last night. A man arrives from Mr. Stuart with letters. The craft were about to arrive when he left. Mr. S. had gone down to meet them on a raft. Having collected all the carp we are able for our voyage we take our departure hence with 13 loaded horses. Travel about 8 miles thro' woods occasionally very bad road and encamp. One of the horses is unable to bring up his load. The men carry it.
Monday, 21st. Fine weather. Start at 5 am. Mr. Douglas with one man goes ahead to reach the Fort today. Near Berland's Lake we meet 5 men with 22 horses from Edmonton take 2 saddle horses for Messrs. E. Harriot and Ermatinger. Send the rest forward to meet Mr. Stuart. Take breakfast at Berland's creek. Afterwards proceed to the large scaffold and encamp. Our route to Berland's Lake was for the greater part bad in the extreme thro' thick woods full of deep mires, thence the road takes thro' the plains and is pretty good. Distance say to the Lake 12 miles and to the encampment 8 or 9 do.
Tuesday, 22nd. Fine warm weather. Proceed at 4 am. reach the Sturgeon River about 10 o'clock with the strongest of the horses. Others do not arrive till 2 o'clock, occupy our time till 3 pm. rafting our property across afterwards resume our journey and arrive at Edmonton at 7 pm. 5 men remain behind at the river, their horses being too fatigued to proceed, roads thro' the plains often bad thro' swamps and mires. Distance to Sturgeon River from our encampment about 16 miles thence to the Fort 9 miles.
Wednesday, 23rd. Fine warm weather. 6 Boats receive their cargoes in order to be off to morrow morning.

Express Journal, Spring 1828 by Edward Ermatinger:
7th [May]. Fine weather. Remain this day repairing our canoes.
Thursday, 8th. Fine weather. Start with 3 canoes at 4 am. Having on board 9 packs furs, &c, with Mr. Klyne besides our own baggage. Two of the canoes have each 6 men and the other 5. River very shoal -- ground in many places -- delay nearly 1 hour gumming one of the canoes. Encamp nearly at Baptiste's River after 7 pm.
9th. Fine weather. Embark at 1/4 past 3 am. Remain 2 hours gumming a Boat which was left on the banks of the River 2 years ago and place in it 3 men, one out of each canoe, to take it down to Assiniboine. [This will be the second of Finan McDonald's boats, see above]. Encamp above the Big Island 1/4 before 8 pm.
10th. Fine weather. Start at 3 am. and arrive at Assiniboine at 1/2 past 9. Prepare our Baggage and cross our horses and commence our journey on the Athabasca Portage at 6 pm., travel only two miles and encamp, 13 horses are employed transporting our Baggage &c. Messrs Klyne and Harriott accompany us with packs and horses.
 11th. Morning fine. Messrs. [Joseph] McGillivray, McDonald and Ermatinger with 5 horses leave the party at 4 am. to go ahead to Edmonton having with them the accts., &c. Afternoon a tremendous storm of wind with rain overtakes us in the Burnt woods, bringing down trees in every direction. One fell upon one of the horses and killed him on the spot. Encamp a little beyond the Paddle River.
12th. Fine weather. Start at 3 am. proceed near to Lac a Berland and encamp.
13th. Fine weather. Before we arrive at Sturgeon River, McGillivray's horse knocks up and is left. Arrive at Edmonton at 7 pm.
14th. A man with 6 horses sent off to assist the people behind.
16th. Mr. Dease and party arrive at 1/2 past 2 pm.

Diary of a Journey from Fort Vancouver in 1835, James Douglas:
Tues. 21 [April] Left Klyne's House this morning at 8 o'clock with one canoe, 4 passengers and 8 men. The other men remain here to mend and prepare the two other canoes for descending the River. They will follow us as soon as they are ready for the journey which will be I suppose tomorrow. The river is very low, and they will be much lumbered with families and baggage, two causes from which much delay may be naturally expected on their way down. Had the case been otherwise I should scarcely have decided on separating the party. But my aim is to reach Edmonton about the 26 current which cannot be accomplished unless the utmost diligence is used.
Wed. 22nd April. A very stormy day with snow & rain in abundance.
Monday 23 [are the dates a little confusing here?] Left our encampment of last night but before we had advanced a mile from the place found an accumulation of ice which renders the river impassable at present. At this place we landed and remained stationery for a considerable time to see if the ice would give way. During this state of suspense I walked a short distance down the river and found the ice firm at two places, but beyond these clear water. This circumstance determined me to attempt a passage. Accordingly the canoe and property were carried over the first bridge of ice and launched into the water.  We shortly afterwards encountered a second obstruction, then a third which were passed in a similar manner to the first. After proceeding a few miles further we overtook a large body of floating ice near which we encamped. We are now near 15 miles from Baptiste River. Distance today 6 miles.
Fri. 24. Left our encampment and advanced about 4 miles when we were again obliged to stop, as the river is entirely blocked up. The two lost [last?] canoes rejoined us.
Sat. 25. Our progress this day does not exceed 5 miles, and for a considerable distance below our encampment the ice is still so solid and compact as to remove all probability of giving way immediately. A circumstance which determines me to push on ahead leaving the bulk of the party to come on leisurely with the property. My plan is to proceed with a canoe perfectly light and 10 men. In places where the ice has already disappeared we will use the canoe, and we will either drag or carry our property over the ice wherever we may meet with it.
Sunday 26. A clear frost [sic] night. At half past 4 we were on the move, and after gliding smoothly over a few miles of open water we reached a large field of ice, over which all the property was carried. A second soon after appeared and was passed in the same manner. Soon after we reached Baptiste's River which is exceedingly high and rushes with such impetuous force into the Athabasca River as nearly divides it in two. To our great joy we encountered no more ice during the day, but from the geat quantity still adhering to the banks on both sides, it is evident that it has been very recently carried off. Met a canoe from Assiniboine which left that place 5 days ago. They inform us that they were stopped the whole of the 24th & 25th by the ice floating downwards in such quantities as to cover the entire body of the river. Encamped about 40 miles above the Fort.
Mondy. 27. Reached Assinboine at 8 o'clock, and at 1.30 pm. Commenced the portage on horseback. Slept at the two River. In ascending the Athabaska river I could ;make but few observations on the quality of the soil, but suppose it to be of very indifferent quality from the kind of wood which it produces. From Klynes [Jasper House] to McLeods branch [McLeod River] the banks of the river are thickly wooded with the white spruce and Canadian Balsam, with a few birch. Below the latter place a good many aspen and poplar trees.
Tues. 28. Encamped at Eagle Lake. The country through which we have passed is pretty generally covered with timber. There are certainly a few clear spots called Prairies but they are of small extent [crossed out: save the one now near us] and scarcely merit any notice. there are no lakes of any extent save the one now near us, and the Paddle and Summer Bay [?] are the only 2 rivers that deserve the name. At the latter we were compelled to construct a raft as we could not otherwise cross the property without wetting.
Wedy. 29. Encamped 4 miles before reaching Sturgeon River, on the banks of a small river which runs thro' a narrow valley bordered with willows, and the banks thickly covered with grass, which is a most eligible situation for our encampment as we are completely shut out from observation, and run little risk of being discovered by any roving parties of horse thieves. From Eagle Lake to Berland's Lake the country is in general densely wooded with the white spruce, poplar & birch, but from that place to Sturgeon river it is totally different in its character. Instead of the gloomy interminable forest we have met with the extensive prairie variegated by pleasant groves of trees, and watered by numerous tiny lakes and small streams of water. The surface of these prairies is thickly covered with various grasses indicating a rich productive soil.
Thurs. 30th, April. Reached Edmonton at 8 o'clock am.

Journal of a Voyage from Fort Vancouver to York Factory, Hudson's Bay, 1841, by George Traill Allan:
Friday 14th [May] Fine pleasant weather; immediately after breakfast, we resumed our travels with two Boats and ten men and descended a long way down the Athabasca River; the banks of this River are very thickly wooded and the current so extremely rapid that a Boat can descend with ease in three days a distance which it requires fourteen to ascend.
Saturday 15th. We got underway this morning at 3 am.; we had descended about four hours when turning a point in the River we discovered two Moose Deer -- about to cross at some distance below us; the men immediately step't pulling & allowed the Boats to drive before the current; in this manner we had approached very near the Deer, who, not perceiving the Boats, took the water and proved to be a Doe with her fawn of a year old. Now the chase commenced in right down earnest, and although there were no scarlet coats amongst us I am sure there could not have been more ardent sportsmen. The Moose finding their retreat cut off from the South side of the River, swam with great speed toward the north, the Doe at this movement received two shots and the Boats coming up a blow from an ax dispatched her; leaving one of the Boats to secure the prize, we made chase with the other after the fawn -- and soon coming up with her, one of the men caught her by the ears and drawing his knife cut her throat in regular Smithfield fashion. Such was the end of the two moose Deer! -- and the excitement of the chase being over, I could not but think of the sanguinary nature of man -- & when I perceived the River died with the blood of the poor Moose, I almost regretted the part I had just taken in their destruction. We now made for the shore & making a large fire endeavoured to console ourselves for the late murder, if it may be so styled, with a breakfast of Moose Deer stakes, than which no meat to my taste can be better. Those were the first of the Moose tribe that either Dr. Tolmie or I had seen & we found them very interesting animals; the men having cut them up, we again embarked, and had descended but a very short distance when we started some geese from the sands along shore & one of the men leaping ashore brought us five of their eggs & we picked up a good many afterwards going along; we thus suddenly found ourselves in a land flowing, if not with milk & honey, at least with Deer, Geese & Eggs.
Sunday 16th. About 12 o'clock am. we arrived at Fort Assiniboine & arranged ourselves to start with Horses for Fort Edmonton; it had heretofore been the custom for the Columbians to receive provisions at Fort Assiniboine to take them to the next post; but our success as hunters enabled us, instead of receiving provisions, to leave a portion for the people of the Fort in exchange for which we received some potatoes and dried Buffalo Meat. Having secured the Boats, by hauling them upon a high bank, for our return in the fall from York Factory, the property, now swelled up with fifteen packs of Beaver Skins we had brought from Jaspers House to fifteen horse loads, was all tied up ready for a start next morning.
Monday 17th. Early this Morning the horses being collected & loaded we started from Fort Assiniboine with fifteen loaded and eighteen light horses in all thirty-three. I having previously disposed the men so as to give each two, four loaded horses betwixt them (to take charge of) and each a horse to ride. About 4 pm. we encamped at a place called Larocques Encampment.
Tuesday 18th. Started at 8 am. and marched till 2 pm. when we arrived upon the banks of the River Pambina, this River being so much swelled by the melting of the Snow in the Mountains as to prevent our crossing we were obliged to chop wood and make four rafts, upon which we managed to transport ourselves and the baggage, and encamped upon the other side.
Wednesday 19th. Before getting underway this morning, I found a note suspended to a branch in our road addressed to the gentleman in charge of the Columbia Express & upon opening it, it proved to be from Mr. Geo. McDougall who had passed with a party of men & a band of horses only about two hours before we reached the opposite bank, stating that he had left two Rafts at my service; b ut they happened to be upon the wrong side of the River -- & had we perceived his note sooner we could not have availed ourselves of them without swimming across, a rather unpleasant occupation in such cold water & swift current. We now pushed on as quickly as the Horses could march, through a very rugged country covered with swamps and fallen timber, as I had some hopes of overtaking Mr. McDougall with whom I am well acquainted. About 3 pm. we got clear of the woods and my horse smelling those of the party a-head began to neigh with all his might & upon my giving him the reins he lost no time in accelerating his pace which in a very short time brought me in sight of Mr. McD's party winding their way slowly over a hill; waiting now for Dr. Tolmie to come up we both rode on swiftly ahead of our men and took Mr. McDougall quite by surprise, he having had a full days start of us from Assiniboine. Introducing the Doctor I called a halt to wait the arrival of those behind it being now 4 o'clock and the horses much fatigued. Mr. McD rode off to inform his people where to camp and soon rejoined us to get the Columbia news & take supper -- making my man produce the wine &c we gave all the news of the west and in return received all those of the east side of the mountains. Dr. Tolmie stuck to his teetotalism & would not join Mr. McDougall & me in a glass of wine, the latter gentleman rode off after supper to sleep at his own camp.
Thursday 20th. This forenoon we breakfasted at Sturgeon River -- and arrived at Fort Edmonton about 5 o'clock pm. where we were received most kindly by Mr. Harriott, Chief Trader, and treated with an excellent supper of Buffalo stakes. The country over which we had just passed from Assiniboine to Edmonton scarcely merits description being composed principally of thick woods and swamps -- here and there a small plain to vary the uniformity of the prospect.

Journal of a Trip from Vancouver to York Factory, Spring 1847, by Thomas Lowe:
Sunday 9th [May] -- Fine pleasant weather. Started from Jasper's House at 10 o'clock and as the current was strong, we got down a good distance.
Monday 10th -- Cold disagreeable day. Snowing the whole time. Made a good days work.
Tuesday 11th -- Fine weather. Arrived at Fort Assiniboine at 4 pm. and had the boat hauled up. Encamped at a short distance from the fort where the horses are to be brought tomorrow morning.
Wednesday 12th May -- Fine day. Took breakfast and started with 13 horses, having 9 packs of furs to take to Edmonton which we brought from Jasper's House. The men are on foot. Road bad, and horses poor. Shortly after starting, saw the two boats of Mr. McDougall from Less[er] Slave Lake arrive. He left the Boats to meet us. He has six packs and 10 men and will start after us tomorrow. Came about 20 miles and encamped.
Thursday 13th -- Fine day. Made a long march. crossed the Paddle River in the afternoon and afterwards the Pambina River, where we had to make a raft. Encamped on the other side.
Friday 14th -- Rained in the afternoon, which obliged us to camp early, having come only about 20 miles. Got within 5 miles of Berlands Lake.
Saturday 15th -- Fine warm weather. Came to the Sturgeon Creek, crossed the pieces in a canoe, drove the horses over, and camped on the other side.
Sunday 16th -- Fine weather. Started early, and arrived at Edmonton about 7 o'clock in the morning.
Monday 17th -- Fine weather. Mr. Rowand sent off two boats today to Fort Pitt.
Tuesday 18th -- Rainy, and much thunder. Mr. McDougall arrived in the afternoon, with his packs.
Wednesday 19th -- Showery. Eight boats sent off down the River. Louis Leblanc who was in charge of Rocky Mountain House arrived this evening, having come ahead of the Brigade.
Thursday 20th May -- Fine warm weather. The Brigade from Rocky Mountain House arrived here this morning. Eight boats.
Friday 21st -- Beautiful day. The eight boats which arrived yesterday started today to proceed to Fort Pitt.

Journal from Vancouver to York Factory with Express, Spring 1848, by Thomas Lowe:
Thursday 11th [May] -- Cloudy. Left Jasper's House at 9 am. with one boat for Assinaboine. We embarked 10 packs of furs for Edmonton, also Dr. [John Frederick?] Kennedy's two sons and two men belonging to this place. The water is low, and being much loaded we scraped a good deal, and the men were often in the water hauling over the shallow places. Got through the lake very easily, and encamped a short distance above the Mountain View.
Friday 12th -- Rained a little in the forenoon. Passed the rapid de Mort before breakfast, and Baptiste's River at 1 pm. The water in the latter was high, and we got on much better.
Saturday 13th -- Fine weather. Killed a moose this morning before breakfast. The water in McLeod's River was likewise high. Arrived at Assinaboine at 3 pm. got the boat hauled up, and everything ready for starting tomorrow morning.
Sunday 14th -- Started from Assinaboine this morning at 9 am. with 14 loaded horses and 8 saddle horses. Just as we had started Mr. McDougall arrived with his two boats from Lesser Slave Lake, and will follow us tomorrow. The horses are in a most wretched condition, and we must consequently go  very slow. Nevertheless we got to the first usual encampment. this has been a most beautiful day, and the Portage appears in a pretty good state.
Monday 15th -- Fine weather. Passed the Paddle River in the afternoon, where we found just water enough to allow us to cross without making a raft. There was a bark canoe at the Palina River, in which we crossed ourselves and property and encamped. The horses however will only be crossed tomorrow morning.
Tuesday 16th -- Fine weather. Came a good distance today considering the state of the horses and encamped at Berland's Lake.
Wednesday 17th -- Very cloudy all day, and a little rain, but not enough to prevent us from going on. Came as far as Sturgeon Creek and crossed all the property. The horses however were left on the other side, in case of their being any thieves hereabout from the Fort.
Thursday 18th -- Crossed the horses early this morning and started from Sturgeon Creek. Arrived at Edmonton about 6 o'clock in the morning. Before our arrival it had begun to snow, and continued so the rest of the day.
Friday 19th -- Very disagreeable weather. snow and sleet the whole day.
Saturday 20th -- The weather still continues very unpleasant. In the evening the Rev. Mr. Thibeault arrived from Lac de Diablo, to pay a visit to Bishop Demers.
Sunday 21st -- Raining all day. Attended Mr ... Church. Bishop Demers & Mr. Thibeault had also a very large congregation. In the evening Mr. McDougall and his party arrived from Lesser Slave Lake. They had been afraid of two days delayed by the bad weather, and some of their packs have got wet.
Monday 22nd -- Rain during the fore part of the day, but fine weather afterwards.
Tuesday 23rd -- Cloudy, but no rain. This morning 13 boats started for Fort Pitt. They have only about 25 pieces per boat, and three men.
Wednesday 24th -- No rain, but very cloudy. The carpenters are busily employed getting the boats in readiness for our departure from this place tomorrow. The different ladings were given out, and taken down to the River side in the afternoon.

Journal of the Columbia Express Party, 1849, by John Charles:
11th, Friday [May] Left Jasper's House about 11 am. the boat being laden with the returns of that place. The water is so low that the boat was constantly thumping on the stones. Camped at sunset. Fine.
12th, Saturday. This morning our progress was checked by the river being blocked up with ice in two places where we made portages by carrying the pieces and hauling the boats over the ice; we had not, however, proceeded three miles further down the river when we again encountered ice in floating masses through which we could not find a passage notwithstanding our repeated efforts. We were therefore obliged to put ashore and camp.
13th, Sunday. We embarked at daylight, but just about sunrise we were again under the necessity of putting ashore and wait until the ice drifted down.
14th, Monday. Made a little more progress to day than yesterday. Wind blowing pretty hard and the ice floating down in pretty large masses.
15th, Tuesday. Embarked at daybreak and were again obliged to put ashore for breakfast and wait until the channel would be again clear of ice. After spending a greater part of the day in this manner we again left, but were obliged to encamp early. Commenced raining last night and continued almost all day without intermission.
16th, Wednesday. Left our encampment at broad daylight and put ashore at the next point; that being the utmost extent of our progress to day. After breakfast we were visited by a couple of freemen from a lodge a few miles below us. Fine day. Weather tolerably warm. The ice drifting down slowly.
17th, Thursday. Arrived at the lodge about 7 am. and got some dried meat and a few tongues from one of the Freemen named Baptiste who embarked in our boat for Edmonton. Made about eight miles to day. Clear weather in the forenoon, but somewhat cloudy towards evening with appearance of rain.
18th, Friday. The river having risen considerably last night, we were enabled to travel all day without encountering ice of any consequence. Saw two moose deer, but did not succeed in killing either of them. Had a few passing showers of rain with occasional glimpses of sunshine.
19th, Saturday. Arrived at Fort Assinaboine early this morning. Had the boat taken up the bank and placed under the boatshed. The saddles etc. etc. for the Portage were taken across to the place where we unloaded the boat. It rained so hard all day that we could not possibly leave until tomorrow.
May 20th. Sunday. Beautiful clear day. Started this morning with 10 loaded horses and arrived at a small prairie about 5 o'clock, where we camped. Dark clouds gathering in the west.
21st, Monday. Commenced raining early this morning and continued all day some snow fell towards night. We remained at our encampment in consequence.
22nd, Tuesday. The weather being so unfavorable for travelling with packs of furs without any covering to protect them from the rain we were obliged to remain at the encampment this day also.
23rd, Wednesday. Started this morning before sunrise. Camped on the opposite side of Papira River which we crossed with a raft.
24th, Thursday. Started about Sunrise and camped at 5 pm. Fine clear day. Blowing pretty strong.
25th, Friday. Before reaching Sturgeon River we were met by Edmonton Horse Guard who brought us word that Mr. Rowand was anxiously waiting for us. We arrived at Edmonton about 5 o'clock. Almost all the boats of the Saskatchewan Brigade have already left, and Mr. Rowand does not intend to leave his establishment until the arrival of Mr. McDougald [McDougall] from Lesser Slave Lake with his returns and who is now momentarily expected.
26th, Saturday. Warm weather. The remaining boats getting in their cargoes.
27th, Sunday. Had a heavy shower of rain in the evening, Mr. Brazeau arrived from Fort Assiniboine, but brings no word of Mr. McDougall.
28th, Monday. The Columbia Boat and two others left Edmonton.....

According to the book, Exploring the Fur Trade Routes of North America, by Barbara Huck et al, Edmonton House [sometimes called Fort Edmonton] was located at the most westerly point that a brigade from York Factory could travel before the Saskatchewan River froze.
Do you notice that I am now talking about brigades, where up to this point I was speaking of the York Factory express?
The difference between an Express and a brigade is that the Express travelled light and fast with papers and passengers, while the larger brigades carried out the furs to York Factory, to be shipped to London.
The men of the York Factory Express crossed the mountains every spring to join the outgoing Saskatchewan Brigades at Edmonton House, and everyone travelled downriver together.
They still had a long way to go -- though the travel for the outgoing express was all downriver, there was still more than a thousand miles of travel from Edmonton House to York Factory.
And as you will see from some of the express journals to come, not everyone took the same downriver route with the boats.

Oh, and the Edmonton story I promised to tell you:
This story involves the Red River rebellion and its effect at the town that surrounded the old fort at Edmonton House.
It takes place almost thirty years after the last express journal in my posting -- in 1885, in fact.
Outside Edmonton there was a long standing Indian encampment, where the drums were always beating.
When news of the Rebellion reached Edmonton, an old timer at the fort supposedly told the newspapers that there was no danger from the Indians as long as the drums continued to beat.
The newspaper foolishly printed the information; the next morning the Native camp stood silent and abandoned.
Can you imagine how nervous the residents of Edmonton were?
Nothing happened; although during the Rebellion the fledgling towns that surrounded Forts Pitt and Carlton were burned, Edmonton remained peaceful.
I suspect that the Natives and Metis people who lived in or around Edmonton, who could also read newspapers, enjoyed their joke.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

George Traill Allan, HBCA

Some of you have noticed I have sneaked into my last post, an express journal written by George Traill Allan of the HBC.
This express journal, and another by him, is in the British Columbia Archives, under A/B/40/AL5.2A and A/B.40/AL5.3A.
I am delighted to have found them, and I will tell you why:
First, I found the journals a delightful read, and Allan a wonderful character who I would like to know more about.
I knew that he was in the Fort Vancouver area and was later connected to Thomas Lowe and Archibald McKinlay in the merchantile business they set up after they, too, retired from the fur trade.
But I did not consider Allan an important man, though I knew I eventually had to know a little about him.
But now I will look forward to writing about him when it comes time, because I read his journals.
I discovered his light-hearted, generous, and fun loving personality.
I laughed my way through his writings, and I hope you laughed your way through the piece of journal I have already posted.
But you will laugh even more when you read Bruce Watson's description of him, in Lives Lived West of the Divide:

Allan, George Traill, British: Scottish
Birth: Perthshire, Scotland, c. 1807
Death: Cathlamet, Washington, 1890
Passenger: Prince Rupert IV (ship), 1830; Clerk, Fort Vancouver general charges, 1831-1842 [he would have been at Fort Vancouver whenever Alexander Caulfield Anderson spent any time there, excluding the summer of 1841 when he travelled out in the York Factory express.]
On his return in the fall he was assigned to Honolulu, and was there until 1847. Afterward he was Chief Trader disposable in the Columbia Department, 1848-1850.

Bruce Watson continues: "It would seem natural that George Traill Allan, a slight, five foot tall, even delicate person of about one hundred pounds, seemingly not at all cut out for the rough and tumble fur trade, would start his career selling books and stationery in Glasgow.
"However, his brother, Dr. Allan, who had been Lord Selkirk's attending physician in North America, secured a position for him in 1830 in the HBC as a writer at York Factory.
"He was more needed at Fort Vancouver and so made his way overland to the Columbia River post.
"During his ten year stay at Fort Vancouver, he had a name exchange with a Cascade native and was nicknamed "Twahalashy," or coon."
And this is about the time we met him in his York Factory express journal, as he travelled out of the Columbia district.
He returned.
"Around 1841, he was appointed joint agent with George Pelly in the Hawaiian Islands post.
"In 1845 he was promoted to the rank of Chief Trader and during his stay on the islands he found the visiting American commodores much more arrogant than the English admirals.
"The bias may have worked against him for, in 1847, when he was replaced by Dugald McTavish, Simpson explained Allan's recall to him in a letter dated June 28, 1847."

Simpson's letter said, "I hope you may not be disappointed by your recall from the Island.
"The plain matter of fact is that we consider MacTavish a better man of business and accountant than you are, and politics and party spirit have been so high of late that, we think it as well a stranger, who can have no bias, should be associated with Pelly, instead of you and that Gentleman continuing longer together."
(Source: D.4/36, p. 59d)

"In October 1848, after going on furlough for one year, he gave notice to retire and settle in San Francisco.
"Using his acquired skills, he became a commission merchant in a partnership with Archibald McKinlay and Thomas Lowe and was in 1850 listed as a merchant living in the house of McKinlay, where he stayed until 1851, at which point he went to Scottsburgh at the mouth of the Umpqua River.
"Under the name Allan, McKinlay and Co., he carried on business until about 1861 when he settled in Cathlamet.
"He was still alive in 1888."

At the bottom of the description Bruce Watson notes that George Traill Allan was a relative of James Allen Grahame of Fort Vancouver, who married Susanna Birnie, daughter of James and Charlot Birnie.
So somehow, even if we don't know how, George Traill Allan is in our family tree -- and I am delighted to welcome him to the Birnie tree.

But now that you know how small and delicate George Traill Allan is, picture him crossing the Athabasca Pass with Dr. Tolmie!
No wonder the two men laughed their way across the mountains!

I have more information for you: His journal did begin at Fort Vancouver, and though it proceeds quite rapidly through the first part of his cross country travels, it is still an interesting read.
I will include it here, and some of you will especially be amused by the information it contains.
In this post we will go only as far as the Boat Encampment:

Journal of A Voyage from Fort Vancouver Columbia to York Factory, Hudson's Bay, 1841, by Geo. T. Allen:
I left Fort Vancouver on the 22d of March 1841, by the Express, accompanied by the following gentlemen -- Messrs. [Francis] Ermatinger, [Archibald] McKinlay, [Francois?] Payette, and Dr. [William F.] Tolmie -- in four boats -- and twenty eight men chiefly Canadians; all the gentlemen of the Establishment, as usual upon such occasions, accompanying us to the River to see us start.
Mr. Ermatinger, being the oldest Clerk of the party in the Company's Service, the command of conducting the party, so far as he went, of course, devolved upon him.
After a voyage of nine days, during which nothing worth recording took place, we reached Fort Walla Walla [Endnote #1], situated in the midst of a sandy plain upon the Banks of the Columbia & in charge of my friend, Mr. Ch. Trader [Pierre Chrysologue] Pambrun, who received us most kindly, and presented us to dinner a couple of fine roast Turkies -- a rather unexpected sight in this quarter of the world.
April 1st. Having arranged everything for my trip on horseback from Walla Walla to Fort Colvile, I started today at noon accompanied by a man, a boy and an Indian, as Guide, with a band of forty six Horses, the Boats having gone off the day before with the other gentlemen; my object in going across land being to get a-head of the Boats & so gain time to close all the accounts at Fort Colvile [#2] (the last past on this side of the Rocky Mountains) before their arrival.
As the country through which I now passed was all much of the same description, I may here mention, that its general appearance was not particularly pleasing, consisting principally of hills without a stick of wood to adorn their summits or relieve the eye from the sameness of the landscape which now presented itself to an immense extent, the surface of the ground over which we rode at no tardy pace was so covered with badger holes that it required the utmost caution to guide our riding horses clear of them; as for the light horses, we allowed them to look out for themselves.
After a ride of four days we reached Fort Spokane, an old establishment, abandoned some years ago, situated upon the banks of the River of that name in a beautiful spot.
On crossing the River, which we did by the assistance of the two Indians in a small Canoe, I was very much surprised, when gaining the opposite bank, to hear my name distinctly pronounced by one of a band of Indians assembled there to greet our arrival; but on looking in the direction from whence the voice came I immediately recognized my old friend, a young Indian Chief called Garry, who had entered the Columbia with me ten years before.
He had been educated at Red River at the expense of the Company and when I had known him was well clothed and could both read and write; now, however, the march of improvement had apparently retrograded, as he made his appearance wrapped up in a Buffalo Robe a la Savage.
Having presented some Tobacco to the Indians I requested Garry to send for one of our horses which I had been obliged to abandon that morning, he being too much fatigued to come one, and to forward him to Colvile, all which he promised to do, and I have no doubt has already performed.[#3]
The evening before our arrival at Spokane we encountered a very severe snow storm, but we were fortunate enough, that very evening to find abundance of wood, an article of which we had hitherto only procured a sufficiency to boil the tea kettle.
We were therefore enabled to make a very large fire and managed with the aid of my bed oil-cloth to erect a kind of shelter from the pelting of the pitiless storm during the night.
On the night of 7th April we reached Fort Colvile about 10 o'clock to my great pleasure, where I was received with the utmost kindness by my old acquaintance, Mr. Chief Trader Arch[ibald] McDonald & his amiable wife.
Being very desirous, if possible, to reach Fort Colvile to day (the 7th) I had ridden very hard -- so much so, that another of our horses gave in, within a few miles of the Fort.
I had, however, no alternative but to ride hard or go supperless to bed as our provisions were entirely out.
This I do not regret, because it gave me an opportunity of proving the correctness of two old adages, viz. put a hungry man on horse back and he'll ride to the Deil [Devil?]; & keep a thing seven years & you will find a use for it.
To understand however the allusion to the latter of these wise sayings, it will be necessary here to state, that on leaving Fort Vancouver, Mr. Ermatinger, a veritable John Bull and our caterer for the grub department of the voyage, had prevailed upon Captain Brotchie, whose vessel was then laying at Vancouver, to get made for us, a couple of large plum puddings, & the same puddings upon being tried on the voyage from Vancouver to Walla Walla, had been found wanting, not in quantity but in quality, and until our arrival at the last mentioned post had layen neglected and almost forgotten.
While seeing me equipped for the trip on horseback from Walla Walla to Fort Colvile, Mr. Ermatinger had slipped in amongst my eatables a piece of those identical puddings; being this morning therefore pressed by hunger, I had, I presume, dived deeper than usual into the recesses of my haversack and finding poor Brotchie, I made, sans ceremonie & cannibal-like, a most hearty Breakfast upon his remains.
As already mentioned, we reached Colvile on the night of the 7th April about 10 o'clock; for two hours previously we had ridden in the dark, through woods, across River, & over hill & dale, so anxious was I to reach my destination -- not, I beg it to be understood, from the paltry motive of procuring a supper, but from the desire of gaining upon the trip of last year.

On the 23rd of April, having received the last despatches from Fort Vancouver & having finished the accounts, I started, accompanied by Dr. Tolmie with two Boats and fourteen men; the other gentlemen having dispersed during the route to their different departments.
Fort Colvile is a very neat and compact little establishment and nothing I have yet seen in the Indian Country can equal the beauty of its situation -- placed on a rising ground in the midst of a very pretty plain encircled by an extensive & well cultivated farm -- the fields & fences laid out with a neatness which does credit to the taste of their projector -- here and there a band of Cattle to enliven the prospect and at a considerable distance surrounded on all sides by high mountains covered from the base to the summit with beautiful pines.
Nor does the inside of the establishment yield in any respect to the exterior, for when seated at table with Mr. and Mrs. McDonald & their family, one cannot help thinking himself once more at home enjoying a tete-a-tete in some domestic circle.

After a voyage of ten days up the most rapid & almost most dangerous part of the Columbia River, the country very rugged and rocky, we arrived on Tuesday the 4th of May at the Boat Encampment, which is the highest point that a Boat or Canoe can navigate the Columbia....

Endnotes to above:
[1] 200 miles from Fort Vancouver. River here 3/4 of a mile wide
[2] About 700 miles from the Pacific by the travelled route
[3] N.B. Upon my return from Hudson's Bay I found Garry had returned the Horse. G.T.A.

To continue George Traill Allan's story:
In a document held by Oregon Historical Society Archives, written by a descendant of James Birnie, we have a little more information about George Traill Allan.
The author of the piece copied out a letter Allan wrote in April 1885, telling a descendant a little about James and Charlot Birnie; its a nice letter but has no information new to us Birnie descendants.
But a few pages later, the author of the document tells us more about George Allan:
"Mr. Allen [sic], an employee of the Hudson's Bay Company had become super annuated and was cared for by James Birnie, and his wife after James Birnie's death.
"After the decease of Mrs. Birnie, Mr. Allen was cared for by Alec. D. Birnie in a cottage built on the latter's property and still standing (1922) until Mr. Allen's death."
And so it appears that the entire Birnie family valued George Traill Allan, and were fond enough of him that he was treated as if he was almost a family member -- even if he did not marry one of the Birnie girls.
His good humour and kindness kept Allan in safe hands until his death.
It sounds as if he remained single his entire life.
But what can a five-foot tall, one hundred pound, delicate dynamo like George Traill Allan do to attract a wife?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Boat Encampment to Jasper's House, by York Factory Express

In his book, The Lifeline of the Oregon Country, James Gibson has this to say about the Athabasca Pass, a place that is covered in this blog posting:
"Under the HBC, the express -- usually three boats, each with nine or ten men, plus a few passengers -- took longer.
"The spring (York) express left Fort Vancouver in the middle of March with mail ("paper trunks," containing letters, reports, journals) and servants who had resigned or retired or who had been furloughed or relocated -- and made York Factory in late June or early July; it left Hudson Bay as the fall (Vancouver) express in late July with mail and recruits or veterans and made the lowermost Columbia in late October or early November.

"The principal impediment was the Athabasca Portage, which stretched 120 miles through the Rockies between Jasper's House on the headwaters of the Athabasca River and the Boat Encampment on the "Big Bend" of the Columbia River, where a tributary, the Canoe River, was "celebrated among North Westers for the quality of the birch bark."
"At the Boat Encampment, where the painter Paul Kane "found the scenery the most beautiful that I have ever seen in any country," the Columbia boats were "hauled up" and a cache of supplies and equipment made, from there snowshoes and horses were used as far as Jasper's House, where boats were waiting.
"The portage impressed even the peripatetic Simpson in 1825: "The scenery here is wild and majestic beyond description, the track in many places nearly impassible; and it appears extraordinary how any human being should have stumbled on a pass through such a formidable barrier which nature seems to have placed here for the purpose of interdicting all communication between the East and West sides of the Continent."
Even the continental divide, however, did not slow the express much."

As you will see: Let us continue our journey with the various York Factory expresses, from the Boat Encampment on the Columbia River, to Jasper's House.

York Factory Express Journal, 1827, by Edward Ermatinger:
Friday 27th [April]. Our tent being dry, strike and pack it up dry the main line as well as we can first by the sun and afterwards by the fire. Take an acct. of everything to be left en cache; kill 1 goose.
Saturday 28th. Morning sharp frost, day fine and warm. People commence arranging and strapping their loads at 4pm. Cross over the property to be left and put en cache. Return and haul up the boat and then start about 7 o'clock course easterly. Our road lies first thro' woods and swamps along the banks of the river (Wood River) and then we cross the 1st point of woods and encamp having travelled about 9 miles. We found in the woods snow knee deep occasionally which caused us to put on our Pas d'ours. Two of our Iroquois who would not have carried snow shoes from the Boat Encampment, had I not insisted upon them having them, now found them very useful and were glad to put them on. A wolverine hovers about our camp and Mr. [David] Douglas wounds him, but he escapes.
Sunday, 29th. Fine clear weather. Resume our journey at 4am. Our track commences on the Battures (gravel bars) on which we travel about 10 miles, having forded the Columbia [he means the Wood River] main river in that space 13 times, the depth of water never exceeding 3 feet. Enter the 2nd Point of Woods about 9 o'clock and travel near 3 miles and encamp at noon, the snow having become too soft for us to continue further this day. The road thro' these woods is very bad and difficult to be found not being distinctly marked as was the case in the point we passed yesterday. This causes much additional labour to the people and often leads them out of their way not one of them knowing the road properly. If the person returning with the horses in the fall and best acquainted with the proper track were desired to mark the trees sufficiently high not to be hidden by the snow it would be a great relief to the people going out in the spring. The snow shoes or Pas d'ours we traded from the Indians are very bad and too small and break often. I would therefore suggest that in future sufficiency for the Express people might be made at Fort Colvile, a little larger than the 2 pairs we got from there this spring, as it would render the travelling much easier and prevent the uncertainty of obtaining them from Indians. See gees kill a partridge.
Monday, 30th. Sharp frost in the morning fine day. Course north start at 4am. Continue thro' the woods about 1/4 mile and fall upon the river then travel upon the battures about 9 miles having forded the main stream 7 miles and arrive at the foot of the Grand Cote at 8 o'clock. Ascend it for about 2 miles and encamp at 11 am. Experienced some difficulty in finding the proper track.
May, Tuesday 1st. Fine weather. Start at 1/2 past 4 am. Snow not less than between 4 and 5 feet deep. Continue to descend the Grand Cote by very short stages for about 2 miles till we meet the Rocky Hills on the right at 8 am., when we incline to the left a little and having journeyed I should say between 3 and 5 miles encamp nearly a mile on this side of the height of land (Athabasca Pass) at noon. We experienced again much difficulty in finding and keeping our road. In fact we could not ascend 50 yards before the people were wandering in every direction in search of the track. What few marks have been made to point out the way I conceive are concealed by the depth of snow. Kill a partridge.
Wednesday 2nd. Fine weather. Resume our journey at 3 am. in order to avail ourselves of the crust on the snow. Course north east. Travel at a good pace for about 17 miles [down the Whirlpool River, a branch of the Athabasca], and stop at 11 am. to breakfast and give the people a rest during the heat of the day. Two thirds of the distance across the grand batture. Hang up our snowshoes on a tree, there appearing no need of them further. Since passing the height of land the snow has very rapidly diminished. At our last encampment it was 5 feet deep and here there is only a little remaining on the ice on the banks of the River. What is left still smoothens our road which passes often over rough rocks. We however had to use our snow shoes occasionally thro' the small points of woods. Being here informed by the people that it is customary to send somebody ahead to meet the man with the horses and advertize him of our approach I send off Roy light for that purpose. Make a fresh start ourselves at 2pm and continue over Battures and thro' woods and swamps between 6 and 7 miles and encamp at 1/2 past 6. One of the camps entirely frozen over. Traversed the Atha[basca] 6 times today, twice knee deep; current strong. We went out of our road a little in the last part of the day's march and got into very bad woods. Roy returns after dark to our camp on horseback having found J. Cardinalle at Campment d'Orignal with 9 horses. Send him back on foot to desire Cardinalle to bring up the horses as soon as possible in the morning.
Thursday 3rd. Fine warm weather. Load the horse Roy brought last night and proceed forward with the rest of our baggage at 1/2 past 3 am. Shortly after meet Pacquan with 3 more horses. Arrive at Campment d'Orignal at 7 o'clock having travelled 5 miles thro' very bad woods. Breakfast. Understanding that there is a canoe at the Grand traverse which is likely to be wanted below, send off three men to repair and take it down to the end of the Portage. then having loaded 2 horses with our baggage, give the rest for the men to mount and continue our journey at 8 am. Ford the Grand traverse about noon. Proceed to Campt. des Vaches [now Buffalo Prairie] where arrive about 3 pm. The greatest part of the road hither thro' thick woods much encumbered with fallen wood. Ice and snow thick on the banks of the River. Terminate our journey across the mountains at 6 pm. The canoe arrives before us. The men are employed repairing another which we find here, in order to proceed to Jasper's House to morrow morning.
Friday 4th. Fine weather. It being necessary to take down both the canoes, I divide the men including Jacques, who leaves his horses here for the present, 4 into each and embark at 1/2 past 4 am. Arrive at the 2nd Lake where Jasper's House stands. We are regaled here with some most excellent white fish. The freemen not having arrived I am unable to explain and arrange their accts for them according to C.F. Rowand's request, my instructions not authorizing me to make any further delay. However in case the Iroquois should come, I intend leaving Mr. Rowand's 2 men at this place and 1 of the Columbia men with a canoe to wait here 4 days, as I am informed they have near 300 Beaver which it is desirable should be taken out.

Express Journal, Spring, 1828, by Edward Ermatinger:
May 1st. Fine weather. Having put up the Boats and other property en cache, we commence our journey across the mountains at 7 am. the 14 men being loaded with the following baggage &c.
1 paper trunks; 2 beds; 1 portmandeau; 1 case; 2 kegs liquor; 3 pactons sundries; Provs. for the Messrs &c.
Get through the first point of woods by 1/2 past 10 o'clock found no snow and less water in the swamps than last year -- took breakfast and allowed the men to rest till 1 pm. and then resumed our route over the Battures. Water high in the River -- at one place the River was too deep to ford with safety and therefore we take to the woods for a short distance. Encamp about 1/2 way between the two points of woods.
May, 2nd. Fine weather. Start at 4 am. Gained the 2nd point of woods by 6 o'clock. Got thro' these woods before 9 -- take breakfast and rest till 1/2 past 11. Then proceed over the Battures to the foot of the Grand Cote where we camp at 2 pm. We met with a few patches of snow to-day, but have not yet had occasion to put on snow shoes. The traverses to-day were deep and the current strong which obliged us to ford hand in hand for personal safety.
Saturday, 3rd. Fine weather. Start at 1/2 past 4 am. Find little snow till we get half way up the hill. We are then obliged to put on the snow shoes -- take breakfast on top of the Hill between 9 and 10 -- resume at noon and proceed to within 4 miles of the Height of Land and encamp at 1/2 past 3 pm. Send Pierre ahead to advise Cardinalle of our approach.
Sunday, 4th. Rained and snowing during the whole of last night -- day fine but cold. Start at half past 4 am. Pass the height of land at 6. Proceed on deep snow near to Campment de fusil -- take breakfast. Afterwards snow diminishes fast. Meet Cardinalle on the Grand batture [14 miles from the summit of Athabaska Pass] at 1 pm. with 14 horses relieve our people of their loads and continue our route to the Campment d'Orignal and encamp.
5th. Cold with snow in morning -- day fine. Start at 1/2 past 4 am. Breakfast at the trou [Whirlpool R] at 8. Proceed at 10 and arrive at the canoes by 5 pm. People immediately set about repairing the canoes -- one of which has got much broken thro' the timbers not having been sufficiently loosened last fall.
6th. Fine weather. Having patched up the two canoes by 10 o'clock we embark. Sent four men by the horses, the water in the River being too low to admit of embarking the whole -- get over many shoals with difficulty. Arrive at Jasper's at 6 pm.
7th. Fine weather. Remain this day repairing our canoes.

Did you realize in that last journal entry that you learned something new about birchbark canoes?
I believe Ermatinger is saying that if the fur traders stored the canoes over the winter, they loosened the fibres or wapeter that held the canoe together.

James Douglas, Diary of a Journey from Fort Vancouver in 1835:
Monday 13 [April]. First Point Woods.
Tues. 14. Entrance of 2nd point of woods. Weather mild, and the snow melting fast. The sandy flats are generally covered with snow to the depth of from 20 inches to 2 feet. It is very remarkable that from the head of the Upper Lake nearly to the Boat Encampment there was a continued depth of 36 to 40 inches of snow everywhere along the river. And contrary to all former experience the nearer we approached the mountains the quantity of snow evidently diminished.
Wed. 15. The weather still continues mild and unfavourable which compels us to use the snow shoe constantly. Encampment at the Commencement of the Big Hill.
Thurs. 16. Snow frequently during the day. Encamped on the height of land.
Fri. 17. Encamped at the Grande Bature where we laid aside our snow shoes and had the satisfaction of treading once more on Terra Firma.
Sat. 18. The Horses from Klynes reached us this morning at 9 o'clock and we continued our journey with them to the Lower Moose Encampement where we put up for the night.
Sun. 19. Encamped at Larocque's House.
Mon. 19. Reached Klynes. [Klyne's House was Jasper's House].

Well, that journal was short and sweet, at least in this section where he had to work so hard in climbing   the mountain! James Douglas was an office man, and probably not in as good shape as the other men who were on this express.
This next express journal entry is not so short and it is a delightful read!

Journal of a Voyage from Fort Vancouver, Columbia, to York Factory, Hudson's Bay, 1841, by George Traill Allan
Tuesday the 4th of May... we slept there [Boat Encampment] and arranged every thing next morning, Wednesday 5th, for our journey on foot and snow shoes. We now started about 10 o'clock am; not finding any snow for the first few miles, we walked in Moccasins, otherwise called Indian shoes, along the banks of the Columbia when we entered the woods & found ourselves in a swamp the water reaching above the Knees, our road leading that way, it was of course, unavoidable, we therefore trudged along in no very comfortable trim for about two miles when we again entered the woods and finding deep snow had recourse to the snow shoes. -- The Doctor [Dr. W.F. Tolmie] and I were light, but the men were heavily loaded, and many of them having never seen a snow shoe, many and great were the falls they had. The snow shoes has a very admirable and peculiar quality, when one falls down it is no easy matter to get up again, and although I felt for the poor men yet I could not altogether command my risibility though it was however sometimes my misfortune to share the same fate & Dr. Tolmie keeping me in countenance, we did not fail upon such occasions to laugh heartily at each other. The Canadians of all nations possess perhaps the best qualities for voyaging (at least in the Indian Country) where we have to undergo, to use of of their own words, so much misere, however harassing their labour may have been during the day, they no sooner arrive at the encampment for the night then having supplied themselves with an excellent fire and good supper, they commence joking each other -- with the greatest good humour upon the mishaps of the past day & having now a tolerable knowledge of their language I really enjoyed them, and now and then put in a word by way of encouragement, to keep up their spirits. I had almost forgot to mention that my friend, Dr. Tolmie, is not only a temperance man but a Teetotaler, so that during our voyage from Vancouver to the Boat Encampment, I had no one to join me in a glass of wine or half a one of Brandy, & having a good stock of each I took a little now and then by way of not allowing Teetotalism to carry the day; for although a temperance man, I shall never become a Teetotaler, there is something so very unsocial in the very name, besides the idea of a mans not being able to restrain himself without an oath is absurd. Let me, however, state here, that any one acquainted with Dr. Tolmie need not be informed that he joined the society from the purest & most disinterested motives, &, God knows, not from any idea of his not being able to refrain from Spirituous Liquors.
I must now return to the woods where I left some of our men struggling amongst the snow, we at last, about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, managed to emerge and were fortunate enough to find along the River a small spot clear of snow where we encamped for the night. The Doctor and myself having by our walk procured excellent appetites, we made us an excellent a supper [sic] -- after which I generally regale myself with a pipe and enjoy the jokes of the men. I must not neglect here to mention that I was now, for the time being, obliged to join the ranks of teetotalism, we having left all our luxuries, tea and sugar excepted, in concealment near the Boat Encampment.
Having slept soundly until 3 o'clock in the morning, the voice of our Guide an Iroquois, calling out lever lever, (get up get up), put us once more upon our legs.
Tuesday 6th. Everything being now ready and the men loaded we started at 4. It having frozen hard during the night we found that we could travel without snow shoes, our route laying along the River. We soon found, however, that though enabled to dispense for a time with the snow shoes that we had a more disagreeable task to perform. We had scarcely walked a mile when we were obliged to plunge into the River which we crossed seven times and found the water exceedingly cold. At last, about 8 am. we once more reached the woods and lost no time in consoling ourselves with a substantial breakfast for the hardships of the morning. Having rested the men and ourselves for three hours we again buckled on our armour (the snowshoes) and marched to the attack when we encountered greater disasters than we had done the day before, the snow not being sufficiently shallow to admit of our throwing off the snow shoes, and too deep and soft to permit our walking without them. About 3 o'clock pm. we got once more clear of the woods & encamped at the foot of a tree which we found free from snow.
Friday 7th. The weather clear and cold at 3 am. we started & proceeding along the River without the snow shoes had nearly the same kind of route as the proceeding day, only we were obliged to cross the River more frequently and found as we approached the mountain the water still colder, so much so, that upon gaining the bank our leggens were stiff with ice, but a smart walk and a good breakfast at the base of the mountain, which we had now reached, soon banished all remembrance of misere.
The Country through which we had travelled for the last three days has nothing in its appearance to recommend it to the eye of the traveller, the River is upon both sides bound in by rather high mountains, wooded to the summits, which confine the view to the River alone. We now betook ourselves to the snow shoes and commenced the ascent which we found very steep. We managed, however, to scramble up about half way, when we encamped. Soon afterwards one of our Indians rambling about fell in with two Porcupines and came back for a gun which having received and being joined by his companion they went off and soon returned with their prize. Having made the Indians roast the Porcupines after their own fashion the Doctor and I tasted them & made the remainder over to the men. When in good order, they are excellent eating, but at this season they happened to be poor, & very tasteless.
Saturday 8th. On raising camp this morning we found the fire had entirely disappeared, having sunk during the night almost to the ground and the snow was at least ten feet deep; -- cold morning with snow; -- again commenced the ascent which increased in steepness as we proceeded and obliged us often to crawl upon all fours.
The Doctor & myself took each our turn in marching ahead not only in the mountain but throughout the whole journey -- a task by no means easy as the snow-shoe sinks much deeper before the track is formed & returns upon it a great quantity of snow (when it has as in the present case lately fallen) which forces the foot dreadfully in a long journey & often occasions the mal de racquette or snowshoe sickness which is exceedingly painful. We were both, however, fortunate enough to escape it and about 6 o'clock am. we gained the top of the mountain & did not certainly feel regret upon the achievement. The guide soon joining us we made a large fire long ere the men arrived almost worn out with their hard journey, which did not however prevent them quozzing [?] each other as usual & many were the tales of misfortune recounted. We had hitherto been fortunate enough to procure water for our tea; at this place we were obliged to content ourselves with melted snow as a substitute; the difference is but trifling. Having refreshed ourselves we again set out, -- snowing fast & from about fifteen to twenty feet of snow upon the ground; towards 4pm. we reached two small lakes and encamped. This place is called the Height of Land, the Columbia River taking its rise from one of the Lakes and winding its course to the Pacific; -- the River Athabasca from the other & emptying itself into the Atlantic Ocean. The Lakes as I stated, are three, but at the season we passed invisible, from the great quantity of snow. We had so far followed the course of the Columbia & had been ascending. We now took that of the Athabasca and began to descend. Dr. Tolmie tried the height at this encampment & found it 7000 feet above the level of the sea.
Sunday 9th May. We set out at the usual hour & walked until 7 o'clock when we breakfasted, the walk of this morning we found equal to the toil of climbing the mountain from the great depth and softness of the snow; & the Doctor and myself going ahead as usual to beat the road for the men, we found the task anything but an easy one. To-day I saw a couple of white Partridges & went in pursuit of them but without success; we now found, as we descended, the snow to get less deep, and consequently the walking less fagging, our route laying sometimes upon the River & at others through the woods. At 12 o'clock noon after a march of five hours, upon emerging from a point of the wood, we fall upon the sands of the River; no snow -- to the men a joyful sight; and at the distance of two miles we expected to find the Horses which are always sent from Jasper's House to meet the Express and relieve the men of their loads. We now cast off the snow shoes for good & all and bid them goodbye with pleasure, although they had greatly befriended us. Upon our arrival at the place where we had expected to find the Horses we met with a sad disappointment: none were there! We found the horse Keepers Lodge, or Hut, the remains of the fire, and the fresh tracks of the Horses, so that he must have decamped not two hours previous to our arrival -- Upon examining his hut very narrowly we discovered a piece of wood upon which he had managed to draw with charcoal the figure of a Moose Deer and marked sixteen strikes upon which, after various conjectures, we understood that he had been waiting for us sixteen days & there being a scarcity of food for the Horses he was obliged to return to the next encampment which is called the Moose Deer Encampment; the men, poor fellows, were rather cast down on arriving, as well they might -- but soon recovered their spirits, on my informing them that next morning very early the Doctor, the Guide & myself would start ahead and send them the Horses; in the mean time we consoled ourselves by taking possession for the night of the hut and found it very comfortable.
Monday 10th. We started at one o'clock this morning I having left orders with the men the night before to get underway about the usual hour and follow us at their leisure, after a very harassing walk of four hours (during which the grass did not grow under feet) through a very rugged country, leading chiefly through thick woods, at one time up to the knees in water, at another in snow -- we arrived at the Moose Deer Encampment but could find no Horses; however, as we proceeded on, looking anxiously from side to side we heard the report of a gun; we also fired a shot, to which another immediately responded -- and in about ten minutes afterwards a man and a Boy met us on horseback and conducted us to their hut where we found the rest of the Horses and a fine fat Goose, whose death had occasioned the report of the first gun we had heard. The Hunter, a halfbreed of the Country, in about ten minutes had the goose spitted on a piece of wood & roasting before the fire a la fashion savage. It was then served up upon a pine branch & certainly I never tasted anything of the goose tribe so good -- but a long walk, such as we had had that morning, is excellent sauce -- so good that we never once thought of salt, & Bread, of course, was entirely out of the question. Immediately after breakfast I dispatched the horse keeper with his boy & all the horses to meet the men & relieve them of their loads. Being joined by the party, we continued our route and in the evening encamped along the Athabasca River.
Tuesday 11th. This morning betimes the Hunter called me saying it was time to start. I immediately ordered the men to get the Horses ready, a task they set about with great alacrity rejoicing at the idea of their loads being transferred from their own backs to those of the horses. About 8 o'clock we called a halt and had breakfast -- our store of eatables being now so much reduced, that having finished that meal, there only remained a few Biscuits & some tea & sugar -- & not being able to reach Jasper's House before next day it did not require a great logician to prove that unless we picked up something betwixt that place and the encampment we should make but a sorry supper of it. I therefore before starting got Dr. Tolmie to make over the remainder of the ammunition to the Hunter -- whose prowess as a sportsman we had so lately experienced in the aforesaid goose (which by the bye he had killed with ball) telling him at the same time if he wished something for supper he would not spare his exertions. He had no sooner received order than off he started a-head of the party accompanied by the Doctor & myself, (we being, as my readily be supposes, parties interested [sic]) during a ride of five hours to the place of encampment our hunter shot three partridges, a Duck, and a Pigeon, so that we made an excellent supper. It was soon after that meal, when setting down to regale myself with a pipe after the fatigues of the day, a circumstance took place which caused great mirth amongst the men. The man, whose duty it was to attend upon me during the voyage, a Canadian, came up to Dr. Tolmie and making a very polite obeisance, announced himself as a chasseur or sportsman -- tho' I believe he had scarcely ever fired a shot in his life -- and requested the loan of his gun; the Doctor very good naturedly granted his request, telling him at the same time that he must load the gun, which he immediately did and started upon his hunt -- and I by way of joke called out to the rest of the men to have their kettles in readiness for a renouned hunter had just gone forth and might be expected very soon to return with a sheep, abundance of which frequent the surrounding mountains. In about half an hour our sportsman returned, not with a sheep, but with the important information that he had discovered a partridge and had burnt priming at it & that the bird still awaited him. The Doctor, suspecting that all was not right, drew the charge, and found that the gun was only loaded with shot, no powder; the discovery being made in the presence of all hands, caused great laughter at the expense of our noble hunter; and of the men in allusion to his having said that the partridge awaited him requested he would extend his powers of attraction to a flock of geese just passing over head, as his provisions were getting rather low; numberless were the jokes cracked upon the occasion -- and they ended in my naming the place, Le Campment sans poudre, Encampment without powder; and I have no doubt it will retain that name.
The Scenery for the last two days had much improved; we travelled to day through a very pretty country & numbers of little plains, & being principally upon high ground, they commanded an extensive view of the adjacent country.
Wednesday 12th. Fine pleasant weather; had the Horses caught at 3 o'clock this morning, and seeing all ready, I set out ahead accompanied by Dr. Tolmie and the Guide-- and after a smart ride of four hours we arrived at the tent of a fisherman and his family, situated in a most romantic spot upon the side of a beautiful lake, its water so clear that I could see from the hill where I stood, the bottom of the Lake all over. On enquiring at the Fisherman what success, he informed me that the preceding night he had killed with the spear one hundred white fish, part of which I desired him to send to Jasper's house, now distant only two miles. Upon our arrival there we received a regular Highland welcome from the person in charge, Colin Fraser, formerly Piper to Governor Simpson, but now promoted to the charge of Jasper's House, Colin lost no time in asking us what we would have for breakfast at the same time presenting his bill of fare which consisted of Moose Deers and Sheeps meat & White fish; to travellers like ourselves who had the night before been obliged to hunt for a supper, there could be no choice, the whitefish, however, being just caught, carried the day, and such a hearty breakfast did we make of it as would not have disgraced Richard Coeur de Leon, when he fell foul of the Pastry set before him by the fat Friar.
Thursday 13th. We remained to day at Jasper's House arranging the Boats. Colin could scarcely, had he searched the whole Indian Country, have found a spot to resemble more his own native Highlands -- surrounded upon all sides by high mountains -- frequented, if not by tame, at least by wild sheep -- & at some distance a large Lake which yields most excellent Trout.

Did you realize this is not a journal you have seen before? I have sneaked it in, and will catch you up on what he has had to say previous to this, of his experiences on the upriver voyage to Boat Encampment.

Journal of a Trip from Vancouver to York Factory, Spring 1847, by Thomas Lowe, in charge of party:
Sunday 2nd [May] -- Set the people to cook provisions to take them across the mountains and got the loads arranged. Took 4 men from the boats to assist to carry until we meet the horses, and hired two Indians we found here to assist us also in carrying. One of the men who was to go out (Abraham Charbonneau) had to be left behind, being unable to walk. Started at 3pm. and crossed the swamp. Encamped a little beyond in the woods. There is less snow in the mountain this year than usual.
Monday 3rd -- Started at daylight, and walked through the woods on snow shoes until breakfast time, when we reached the Battures, where there was no snow. Walked through the battures until 3 pm. then entered the woods, walked on snow shoes about 2 hours, and encamped.
Tuesday 4th -- Walked all day through the woods & battures and encamped at 4 pm. half way up the Grand Cote. A fall of snow in the afternoon.
Wednesday 5th -- Very cold, and a slight fall of snow in the forenoon. Got to the top of the Grand Cote and breakfasted about 2 miles farther on. Passed the height of land at noon, and having measured the depth of snow, found only 2 1/2 feet on the surface of the Lake. Got as far as the Campement de Fusil.
Thursday 6th -- Started very early and breakfasted at the Grande Batture, where we found the horses that had been sent from Jasper's House for us. There were 14, enough for all hands, so that all were mounted. Sent Michel and Bte. McKay ahead to Jasper's House to have the boat gummed. Mr. Burke also accompanied them. I then went on with the remainder of the party, leaving the 4 man and the Indians whom we brought from the Boat Encampment to return with Mr. John Charles and two... whom we found here with the Packet for the Columbia. The horses had been waiting for us a week. We camped before sundown almost 5 miles beyond the Campement d'Original.
Friday 7th -- Passed the Grande Traverse about 11 am. and breakfasted at the Campement de Vache. Started again at 2 pm. and encamped at the Rocher du Bon Homme, about 4 miles beyond Larocque's Prairie. Beautiful day.
Saturday 8th -- Started early, and reached Jasper's House at 9 am. Mr. Burke arrived yesterday forenoon, but Michel had been able to do but little to the boat. Got it caulked & gummed today, all ready to start tomorrow.

Journal from Vancouver to York Factory with Express, Spring 1848, by Thomas Lowe:
Thursday 4th [May] -- Got one of our boats hauled up to be left here until the Autumn. Gave the men their loads & provisions, and started about 2 pm. There are 9 of our men who carry and 10 Indians. Joe Onowaneron & Louis Owetaronguash are left at the Boat Encampment to wait for the Indians who accompany us, and who are to be sent back with letters when we meet the horses from Jaspers' House. Crossed the swamp, and camped a short distance up the first hill.
Friday 5th -- Fine weather. Started from our encampment early and breakfasted at the end of the hill. Walked on snow shoes in the battures all day. There is a good deal of snow this year, and the River is rather high. Got through the first set of battures, and encamped a short distance in the woods.
Saturday 6th -- Beautiful day. Got through the remainder of the point of woods early, and crossed the second range of battures without snow shoes, and took breakfast before entering into the woods. Got up the Grand Cote without difficulty, and encamped at the end of the swamp on the other side, which is an uncommonly long days journey as the snow was hard.
Sunday 7th -- Snowing most of the day, but had not [now?] to use snow shoes, and consequently made good progress. We got nearly as far as the Campment de Fusil to breakfast, and carried on afterwards to the Grand Batture, where we expected to meet the horses from Jasper's House, but they had not yet arrived, and we had to send ahead for them. They were found at the Campment d'Original in charge of two men, and reached us in the evening, 14 in all. I rec'd the Packet of letters from the E. side.
Monday. Fine day. Sent back the Indians who had accompanied us across the mountains, and gave them the East side packet in charge to be delivered to Joe at the Boat Encampment. I then started ahead with Michel the Guide, and Jacques Pahetsaronsari to have the boat repaired before the others come up. Found a good deal of snow between the Grand Batture and the Campment d'Original, but beyond that the ground was clear. Took dinner at the Grand Traverse, and camped at Larocques' Plain.
Tuesday 9th -- Warm weather. Arrived at Jasper's House about 10 am. and found Mr. Colin Fraser and family all well. Had the boat put in the water, to swell the wood previous to having it gummed and caulked.

And in the last posting, you also learned something new about the wooden boats they used to travel the Athabasca River; they were put into the water to swell before gumming.
I will have to tell you about gumming the boats in a future post; right now I can tell you that young James Anderson, son of Alexander Caulfield Anderson, watched as the men gummed their boats:
"During the afternoon I witnessed for the first time, the removing of all extraneous matter, splinters, etc., by fire much to my consternation believing that our crews were veritably burning their boats behind them."
Perhaps burning the splinters was a part of the process of gumming the boats; more likely twelve-year old James Anderson did not see the men apply gum to the seams of their boat.

Journal of the Columbia Express Party, 1849, by John Charles:
4th, Friday [May]. Arrived at the Boat Encampment about 8 am. Had one of the boats taken up the bank above high water mark. Having taken breakfast and arranged everything requisite for our trip across the mountains we commenced our march, the party consisting of 6 men and myself. Camped in the first mountain at the end of the long swamp.
5th, Saturday. Took breakfast at the foot of the first mountain. Walked to the end of the first Bature without the use of snowshoes. Camped about the middle of the second mountain. Fine weather.
6th, Sunday. Left our encampment at broad day light. Camped about three miles, east side of the "Grand Cote."
7th, Monday. Took breakfast before leaving our encampment as we would otherwise have lost time in making a fire place on the snow. About two feet of snow fell last night and the walking to day was consequently very heavy. Met Ignace the horseguard of Jaspers House at the Grand Bature with twelve horses.
8th, Tuesday. We all got on horseback after breakfast. Camped at the Prairie de Vache. Stormy weather.
9th, Wednesday. Continued on our route after breakfast and reached Jasper's House two or three hours before sunset. Cloudy towards evening. The Athabasca River appears to be very low and Mr. Colin Fraser is apprehensive that we will meet with ice on our way down to Assinaboine.
10th, Thursday. Had the boat well repaired and put in the water so as to be in readiness to start tomorrow.

In 1842, Alexander Caulfield Anderson led out the York Factory express, with two boats between Walla Walla and Fort Colvile.
In his Notes, Anderson wrote of "crossing the Rocky Mountains by the elevated pass of Mount Hooker," -- that was the name the fur traders gave Athabasca Pass at that time -- "early in May 1842, the depth of snow at the summit was very great. Reaching the Grande Batture on the verge of the Jasper Valley ... all vestige of snow had disappeared from the lower levels. We here found people awaiting the arrival of our party, with a number of horses, fresh from the pastures, in prime condition. Near Jasper's House the Aspens were already partly in leaf (12th May), far more advanced than we found them as we descended the Athabasca towards Assineboine; or than they were even at Edmonton, when we reached it a week afterwards."
The melting snow and early leafing of the Aspen is the effect of the Chinook wind from the west, that melts the snow through Athabasca Pass and Jasper, and all the way to modern-day Hinton, Alberta.
It is the same effect that the warm Chinook wind has on today's Calgary, Alberta.
It has been said that my great grandfather, James Birnie, so named the warm west wind because it came from the land of the Chinookian tribes on the coast.
I wonder if that is true.....