Sunday, December 30, 2012

Upcoming events

Yes, indeedy -- I do have some upcoming events in 2013.

Event Number 1:
Location: Saanich Centennial Branch of Greater Victoria Public Library, 3110 Tillicum Road, Victoria (immediately behind Tillicum Mall)
Date and Time: Wednesday, February 20th, 2013, at 7pm, evening

The library asks that you register by phone (250-477-9030) or online at
This is a celebration of Heritage Week and their theme this year is "Good Neighbours: Heritage Homes and Neighbourhoods."
As you know I cannot show or talk about his home more than I already have done, as it was destroyed by fire many years ago.
But his farm had an interesting history after he left it -- I might have time to fit that in.

Even is I cannot give a lot of information about Anderson's house, I can say a lot about Anderson as a good neighbour, and I will. 
I will talk about potatoes (at Fort Alexandria and elsewhere); about mills (three of them, in fact); and about his Native neighbours at both Fort Alexandria and Saanich.
I can speak of Beacon Hill Park and the South Saanich Agricultural grounds and fair.
St. Stephens Church will play its part in my talk as well.
But I have only 3/4 hour with room for questions afterward -- will I truly be able to fit all these stories into that short period of time?
We will find out.
And even if I do not manage to squeeze all these stories into my talk without making it too confusing, I will post them on my blog afterward.
This will be fun -- it will be a chance to talk about the man I discovered behind the important history he lived through.
I will bring books to sell and will sign any that you have already purchased, with thanks.

Event Number 2:
This event is a little farther from home -- on Anderson Island in Puget Sound, in fact.
The date: Saturday, March 23rd, 2013. I don't have a time, but it sounds as if it is in the evening at their usual time. There is an announcement in "the Sounder."
The place: the Community Club, Anderson Island
Sponsored by: The Anderson Island Historical Society, Potluck and Presentation.
Click on their website, here:  Anderson Island Historical Society
As you know, Anderson Island was named by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, of the United States Exploring Expedition, for fur trader Alexander Caulfield Anderson, who happened to be the man in charge of Fort Nisqually at the time of Wilkes' arrival there.
For more information on Wilkes you should read Nathaniel Philbrick's book, Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery, the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842.
I have a lot of stories about Anderson's time at Fort Nisqually and none of these stories made it into The Pathfinder.

There is a bit of a funny story about family connections in this invitation to Anderson Island.
It happened this way -- through my Anderson family page on, I received a query from Rick Anderson, who lived on Anderson Island and who wanted to know more about A.C. Anderson.
He knew the island was not named for his Anderson family although it appears that everyone else on Anderson Island believes it was.
I told him about The Pathfinder and he immediately invited me down to speak about Alexander Caulfield Anderson in front of the local historical society.
My sister then told her Seattle step-grandson (not an A.C. Anderson descendant) of the event, and he said he played music with some of the Anderson Island Anderson kids, who "owned the whole island." (They don't).
Not only was there the immediate connection with the Anderson Island Anderson kids, but we learned that the step-grandson lived a block or two from the store that another Alexander Caulfield Anderson descendant owned, and they recognized the store by the pug dog tied outside the door.
So there you go -- connections everywhere.

So, it looks like I will be writing and power-pointing talks for a little while -- along with doing my regular job, marketing the book, writing the blog, researching my next book, managing twitter, google+, various book and writing forums, and on and on.
By the way, if you want to join me on Twitter (this time I am having quite a bit of fun on it) my name is Nancy M. Anderson (I think) and my "handle" Marguerite_HBC.
With Google+ you will find me under "Nancy Marguerite Anderson."

Friday, December 28, 2012

The horse portage between Edmonton and Fort Assiniboine, Athabasca River

A few months ago, just after I posted the first crossing of the Assiniboine portage on the outgoing journey, I talked to some history students or outdoorsmen who were coming from Minnesota or someplace in the American east, to hike the Athabasca portage.
They're planning their journey a year or two ahead so there is plenty of time for them to locate more information, and I presume they are following the blog to see what new information I can post about the return journey.
However, I think this post will not add a lot to their information, unfortunately.
If you know of anyone who has located the trail and perhaps mapped it, or written about it, can you please post the information in the comment section at the bottom of the page, so these gentlemen have a chance of finding and accessing the new information?
Thanks. I am a believer in sharing information -- its surprising what you get from people when you give them something.

So, here we go, with Aemilius Simpson's journal of his voyage across the continent in 1826!

Journal of a voyage across the Continent of North America in 1826, by Aemilius Simpson, R.N.:
Thursday 14th [September] Commenced cold but fine weather. After breakfast Messrs. J. Stewart, McGillivray, [George] Barnston & myself mounted our horses & commenced our journey across the portage -- at noon we arrived at the Sturgeon River, which we crossed in [word] canoe, this stream is small but has a considerable dept. Mr. J. Stewart, having come up with his party at this river, he remained with them. We proceeded in search of the Columbia Brigade -- on arriving at a small creek Mr. Barnston followed a different track, to what I conceive our brigade has followed. I pursued what I thought the right one -- until I arrived at a deep swamp & stream. When I began to suspect I had followed the wrong road, I therefore began to retrace my steps, but found Mr. McGillivray coming by the same track. I returned again with him & crossing the swamp and stream (which obliged the horse to swim across) we came up with the Brigade a short distance beyond it. Encampt. While retracing my steps in the dusk I had a rather unwished-for meeting with a bear, but on taking a short survey of me, he turned into the woods. My track during the day was in a winding direction to the NW about 20 miles, the first 15 rather an open country & affording comparatively a good track.
Friday 15th. A very coarse night, rain, sleet, with thunder & lightning which prevented our [start] in the morning, until after breakfast when we continued our journey at 10 am & pursued our route, by a road almost impassible to man or beast. The horses & their loads frequently falling into swamps & ruts in which they almost disappeared & it requires extraordinary efforts at times to extricate the poor animals from these very uncomfortable situations, and calling down upon them the most awful imprecations from their Canadian guides. In the tracks [word] through the [woods] the loads which were slung over the sides of the horses progressed so far, that they were constantly coming in contact with the branches to the great injury of the loads. To add to the comforts of our journey it rained throughout the day. We traveled until 5 pm when we encampt for the night having come 14 miles by estimation, in a winding course to the NW over a broken & almost impassible [part] of the country interspersed by swamps and [woods] which afforded hardly a track sufficient for the horses to get through.
Saturday 16th. Constant rain during the night but cleared up at 6 am. At 8 am proceeded on our journey over a continuance of extremely bad road. Leaving the woods, the quagmires & marshes. At 2 pm we crossed the Pembina River, a considerable stream which the horses forded, but not without having wet some of their loads. We found a canoe on the So bank of the river which was launched for the purpose of transporting a few of the [loads] particularly my instruments & [word]. Messrs. MacMillan, MacDougal & Herriott came up with us here, they had remained behind at Edmonton after our departure. Having crossed the river we pursued our journey until 4 pm, after a severe days march for the horses. Our distance come today I estimate at about 18 miles tending to N.W. over the worst road I certainly ever saw traveled.
Sunday 17th. We had a very sharp frost during the night forming a thin coat of ice on the sheets of water. 6 am we continued our march. Our road not generally so bad as formerly. We passed some pretty spots of meadow bounded by woods [and] we found an Indian family encampt on one of these spots -- a hunter attached to the Fort Assinaboine establishment. We stopped to breakfast at 10 am & resumed our journey again at noon, which we continue until 3 pm, when we encampt in the skirt of a wood which formed a very comfortable encampt. We traveled 15 miles between North & West.
Monday 18th. A hoar frost during the night with clear weather. We commenced our March & traveled through a point of woods until 8.30, many parts of the track being very bad, the horses sinking under their loads up to the necks nearly. We breakfasted on the south side of the River [name], a small but deep stream. At 11 we resumed our journey passing several creeks, swamps & points of wood where the track is frequently almost impassible from the immense quantity of fallen burnt trees strewed over the path & which forms one of the worst obstacles on the [length] of the route, as every gale blows down a new covering of these burnt stumps, however often you clear the path. To make your way thro' this confused map is irksome & tedious. We forded a branch of the Athabasca which forms an island of a few miles extent -- at 3 pm we arrived at the Main branch opposite Assinaboine Post to which we crossed in a canoe. Thus completing our Journey from Edmonton, in a little less than six days at only a distance by estimation of 90 miles -- and in a direct line by my observation....
Assinaboine is a small post situated on the North bank of the Athabasca enclosed by a woody country but has intervals of meadow land which furnishes good pasture for horses. It is much used for that purpose, a number being always kept here belonging to the Edmonton establishment & to supply the brigades crossing the mountains & as it is safe from the depredations of the Blackfeet & the Indians who do not cross this woody country -- a considerable quantity of dried meat is procured at this post which is made into pemmican to supply the passing brigades to & from the Columbia &c.
Tuesday 19th. Weather with rain & sleet, bearing the appearance of winter. Thus it is nearly the [word] as a continuation of this weather would make our journey across the mountains a very difficult & disagreeable one. I examine my [packs] today, apprehensive that their contents got injured in crossing the portage from the number of thumps, tumbles, &c, but was pleased to find that the instruments had received no material injury. The Mountain barometer was not so fortunate, for on examining it I found its tube broken. [rest omitted]
The wet weather retards our arrangements, we are unable to gum and otherwise arrange our canoes.
Wednesday 20th. A continuance of coarse weather. Snow & rain.
Thursday 21st. A thin covering of snow on the ground & hoar frost in the morning with constant rain during the day. This bad weather has prevented Mr. Stewarts getting across the portage with his party and as he has the supplies for the Upper posts, were we otherwise ready we could not proceed until his arrival here with these. An Indian hunter brought us a very seasonable supply of venison, as we found no great abundance of provisions at this post. The [meals] the potatoes of its garden & dried meat, our table could not be called badly provided.
Friday 22nd. The weather having improved, enabled them to pitch the canoes &c. We are now ready to proceed on our journey but must wait the arrival of Mr. Stewart for which we are now becoming anxious.
Saturday 23rd. Commenced with heavy rain, still retarding the arrival of Mr. Stewarts party -- Messrs. [James] Birnie and Lin... sent off for Jasper's House this forenoon, with a loaded boat and strong crew, so as to enable her to get in advance as much as possible before we start in our birch canoes. Mr. Stewart with a few of his party arrived in the evening having had a most difficult task to transport his goods over the Portage owing to the continual bad weather rendering the road worse than we had [experienced]...
Sunday 24th. The weather has taken a favourable change & appears set in for a continuance of fair weather. The remainder of Mr. Stewart's party arrived in the morning. This day they have been employed examining & drying the goods which we have to bring up to Jasper's House. The clear weather enabled me to get a set of observations....

Journal of a Voyage from York Factory to Fort Vancouver, Columbia River, 1827, by Edward Ermatinger:
13th [September] Fine weather. Left Edmonton this afternoon with 29 loaded and 6 saddle horses. Passengers, pieces of baggage being as follows: Messrs. Todd, McDougal, Ermatinger, Louis Leblanc, the ladies of Messrs. McLeod and McDougal and 2 children.
[Long list of supplies omitted]
14th, Thursday. Started at sunrise and made our first stage to the Grand Echaffaud by 11. Resumed 2, and at 5 encamped at Riviere que Basse near Lac a Berland. Light rain.
15th. Fine weather. Proceeded this day as far as Lac La Nan, having made one half. Two men sent ahead to repair the canoes at Fort Assiniboine. Picard arrives at our encampment with letters from John Rowand, Esq.
16th. Fine weather. The party went as far as Jolie Prairie and encamped having made one stop near Paddle River. Messrs. Klyne and Ermatinger went off ahead this morning for the fort.
17th, Sunday. Fine weather. Starting from Jolie Prairie our party reached Les Deux Rivieres and encamped.
18th. Fine weather. The whole Brigade reached Fort Assiniboine before noon all safe, except that Leblanc's horse got astray the night before last and was left. Messrs. Klyne and Ermatinger with the 2 men arrived yesterday morning. Shortly after arrival the people set about making their poles and paddles while the Boutes are repairing the canoes. We only found here two good canoes and 3 much broken and as we require 4, we have chose the two best of the latter and the 2 former.
19th. Fine weather. People employed as yesterday. The 2 old canoes have had half their bottoms renewed.

I don't know who is keeping this journal but it is apparently not Edward Ermatinger.
Certainly they had a very easy journey over the portage, unlike that enjoyed by Aemilius Simpson a few years earlier.
There were many complaints about this crossing over the years, and John Rowand was ordered to make it into a good road.
But ease of travel over this muddy and wooded plain might, every year, have depended on the season's unpredictable weather.
Let's see what George Traill Allen has to say of his experience in his first crossing of the Athabasca portage in 1831.

Journal of a Voyage from Norway House to Fort Vancouver, Columbia River, in 1831, by George Traill Allen:
We remained two days at Edmonton, and on Wednesday the 9th [September], we started out for Fort Assinaboine with about 40 horses and as many men. Messrs. [Duncan?] Finlayson, [James] Douglas, [Pierre] Pambrun and I being mounted on excellent horses set out at full speed in order to overtake the men with loaded horses, who had already set out. Our kind host, Mr. [John] Rowand, with two other gentlemen accompanied us a short distance and then bade us adieu. After a ride of about three hours over a rather barren country we arrived at the banks of a small river, called Sturgeon River, where we rafted the goods and forced the horses to swim across. During the evening we established a watch at which I in conjunction with two other gentlemen took my turn of three hours in walking about to see that the men did their duty. We were apprehensive that the Assiniboine Indians might attempt to carry off our horses, but we were agreeably disappointed as we neither heard or saw anything of them.
During the first part of my journey over the Assiniboine Portage, as it is called, our route lay through extensive plains, but during the latter part we found considerable difficulty in passing through thick woods covered with fallen trees and in some spots morasses out of which our horses could scarcely extricate themselves.
Monday 12th. We arrived at Fort Assiniboine in time to sup with Mr. Grant. Fort Assiniboine is a small establishment situated on the banks of the River Athabasca and the surrounding country is chiefly composed of thick woods. The river takes its rise in the Rocky Mountains.
Tuesday 13th. We prepared three canoes for the River Athabasca up which we were now to steer our course.

That was short and sweet!
In the journal that follows I should mention that one of the passengers was John McIntosh and his wife and family of five children, who were met by Alexander Caulfield Anderson at Jasper's House, and taken across the Leather Pass into New Caledonia.
Another passenger would have been a young Archibald McKinlay, who spent many years in Anderson's fur trade west of the Rockies.
The Leather Pass story is a long one and is covered by Chapter 5 in my book, The Pathfinder: A.C. Anderson's Journeys in the West.
For more information on this journey you can go way back in my blog -- on Sunday November 15, 2009, I wrote about the "Hudson's Bay Company's Leather Pass." You can probably find it by googling the words in the above quote exactly as written.
Aweek or so later, on November 28th, 2009, I wrote John McIntosh's story in full. You can probably find it easily by googling "John McIntosh, HBC."
John McIntosh's son -- one of the boys on this cross-country voyage with James Douglas -- later joined the US cavalry from Montreal, and was one of the first soldiers killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876.
These little stories can lead you anywhere, and this story led me quite a distance, as you can see!

Diary of a Journey from Fort Vancouver in 1835, by James Douglas:
[Monday?] 21st [September] Left Edmonton this morning at 8 o'clock with our party for the Columbia consisting altogether of 24 servants, 6 gentlemen besides 2 families, with their attendants. Our property is now conveyed by horses and will be thus forwarded as far as Assiniboine from whence we once more betake ourselves to the water. We have in all 51 horses, of which number 39 carry burthens, and 11 are for the passengers. Encamped opposite the Little Scaffold.
Tues. 22. Stopped 2 1/2 hours at Bridge River to refresh the horses, and encamped at Mr. Shaw's encampment.
Wedy. 23. Breakfast Eagle Lake, Camp on West side Pembrina [Pembina] River.
Thurs. 24. Jolie Prairie; Two Rivers.
Frid. 25. Grand Cote. Fort Assiniboine.
Sat. 26. On arrival here yesterday afternoon we found the man who had preceded us from Edmonton busily occupied in repairing & strengthening the canoes, a work which was nearly completed this morning. Two of the canoes are old, and two of them were made at Slave Lake about the commencement of the present summer. Though they were made at different times and by different persons they bear a close resemblance to each other in many respects, but chiefly in being made of the most wretched materials, and the new ones of the very worst possible construction being very narrow, deep, and consequently of a great draft of water. Three built here last summer of 24 & 22 feet keel, and 8 & 9 1/2 middle shaft; being light and well proportioned, offer strong inducements to abandon the canoes and adopt the boats as the safest mode of conveyance up the river. Advantages of canoes: lightness of fabric, swiftness. Boats: strength, durability, insusceptibility of injury. Disadvantages of canoes: susceptibility of injury. Boats: Weight, difficulty of propelling against a powerful current. A trial was made this morning to ascertain the speed of the two crafts which did not terminate so unfavourably to the Boat as I anticipated, and I am now of opinion that with the same cargo a boat will reach the mountains nearly as expeditiously as a canoe. The one is certainly more easily propelled than the other, but the canoe frequently stands in need of repairs, and much time is invariably lost in that way, wherever the boat moves on rather slowly, it is true, but without detention of any kind.

It is interesting how your story changes when  you get additional information from other sources.
I did not know before I copied out James Douglas' journal that 1835 was the first year the Columbia expressmen had used boats to carry their loads upriver to Jasper's House, rather than canoes.
So now I know why Anderson and his men waited so long at Jasper's House, and why they they were then caught in that tremendous snow storm!
However, while Douglas' journal adds a little to Anderson's story, it makes no major changes overall -- it's just a little additional information we did not have before.

Journal of a Trip from Vancouver to York Factory, Spring 1847, by Thomas Lowe, in charge of party:
Saturday 25th [September] Beautiful weather. In the morning the horses were saddled, and after breakfast we started across the Assinaboine Portage. There are 37 loaded horses in the Columbia brigade, and Mr. Brazeau who goes across to Assinaboine has 13, making in all 50 loaded horses besides 10 saddle horses. Went as far as Sturgeon River, got everything across, and encamped on the other side. Had to leave one of our men, William Gray, at Edmonton, as he was unable to walk, and too worthless to be exchanged for another man.
Sunday 26th. The weather kept fine during the day, but came on to rain and blow in the evening so that we had to camp rather earlier than usual, at a small creek a short distance on this side of Berland's Lake. The Portage is unusually dry this season, so that we have less trouble than usual.
Monday 27th. Very cold last night, but it has been exceedingly hot during the day. Came a good distance. Encamped near Lac le ......
Tuesday 28th. Another very warm day. Two of our horses could not be found this morning & we had to start without them, after having passed a long time in search of them. Passed the Pembina River in the afternoon, & [as] the water was low, walked the horses across without unloading. Camped at Paddle River. Before coming to the campment, the men who had been left behind overtook us with the two horses of which they had been in search. We also found another on the march, which had been left by Mr. McDon[ell?].
Wednesday 29th. Fine clear weather. Started earlier than usual this morning, and came to the Deep Creek. The men are too awkward, and the proper places too few to rest in the middle of the day, so that we carry on without stopping, but generally encamp when the sun is about 2 hours high.
Thursday 30th. Very cloudy, but fortunately no rain. Arrived at Fort Assinaboine about noon, and found that the Guide had got our three boats repaired, and in the water. Had the different cargoes divided tonight. There are 35 pieces per boat, exclusive of 3 bags pemmican each boat, for provisions of the men in the Athabasca. Besides the 40 packs Otters and 10 pieces sundries for Jasper's House, which we brought with us, we likewise take with us from Assinaboine the 40 packs otters left last season. With the 4 men lent by Mr. Harriott, there will be 8 men per boat, including the steersman. Having brought a keg of rum from Edmonton to be given to the men, I served out a dram to all hands, after which they had a dance at the Fort before beginning their hardships in the Athabasca.

Journal from Vancouver to York Factory with Express, Spring 1848, by Thomas Lowe:
There is a blank in the journal after his arrival in Edmonton; the journal resumes to report a little excitement on September 24th.
However by that time his party is already a good distance up the Athabasca River, so the excitement will await the next post.
Thomas Lowe must have enjoyed an easy crossing that year -- but it was not so in later years, as you will see below...
John Charles' journal also does not continue past Edmonton House, and so we do not know what occurred on his crossing of the portage in 1849.
It's too bad. If he had kept his journal up to date, we might have a clue as to why he was killed in the Athabasca Pass that year.
For further information, see the posting, John Charles, HBC, written on June 16, 2012.
Quite a few people have contacted me re: that story, and we are keeping our eyes open for the answers to our questions.

Chief Factor John Ballenden crossed the Athabasca portage in 1851, and this is what he had to say of the portage, in a letter to the Governor and Council, March 22nd, 1852 [B.223/b/39, fo.110, HBCA]:
"The Columbia party left Edmonton last Autumn later than in former years.
"Their detention was caused by the height of the waters in the Saskatchewan River retarding the progress of the boats, and preventing them reaching their destination until 10 or 12 days later than the usual period.
"We started on the afternoon of the 30th Sept.; crossed the Assiniboine portage; and ascended the Athabasca River without much difficulty.
"Indeed the only difficulties we met with were at several portions of the portage which, in consequence of heavy rains and want of the usual repairs retarded us considerably.
"I would beg to draw the attention of the Council to this subject; and hope they will afford Mr. Rowand the necessary aid to enable him in some measure to repair and alter the road.
"It will render easy the communication between these posts & facilitate much the passage of the Columbia part outgoing and incoming, and much reduce the expense.
"In my opinion, a cart road might easily be made."

John Ballenden goes to immediately after to describe the rest of his journey into the Columbia district:
"At Jasper's House I separated the party, as I was instructed, and sent Mr. Manson with one portion, via Tete Jaune's Cache, to New Caledonia, while Messrs. [William] Sinclair, Carter [?], and I started with the other for the Columbia River.
"On the 5th November having experienced no difficulty either in the mountain, or in descending the river, we reached Fort Colvile.
"There I found Mr. [Alexander Caulfield] Anderson and most of the members of his family invalids, & the greater number of the servants unwell, but recovering from an Influenza which had been prevalent there during the Autumn.
"The affairs of that district were in their usual prosperous condition.
"The Returns of Ot. 1850 were taken to Fort Langley by Mr. Anderson, and the supplies for Ot. 1851 brought back, without any damage.
"The party on their return reached Colvile about the 15th August; and about the middle of September Messrs. [Angus] McDonald & Michel Ogden started for the Flathead post, & Edouard Berland sometime previously for the Kootanais post, with the supplies for their respective establishments...

The letter continues, with more information about Anderson in later folios: "Mr. Anderson was much disappointed at not having been relieved by an officer from the East side; and was so anxious that he and his family should have the benefit of medical advice that I decided on his accompanying me to Fort Vancouver, & leaving Mr. Sinclair in the temporary charge of Colvile, as I felt confident the latter gentleman would do it every justice....
"We reached Fort Vancouver on the 2nd Nov. & found all there well.
"Mr. [Peter Skene] Ogden was anxiously expecting our arrival, & so desirous of getting away himself, that he started for New York, via Panama, by the mail steamer, early in December."
From The Pathfinder: A.C. Anderson's journeys in the West, "Anderson had arranged with Ballenden that if Ogden disapproved of his leaving Fort Colvile, he would take his wife to her father's residence [at Cathlamet] and return to his post.
"But Ogden was pleased to see Anderson as it meant he was free to depart on his furlough.
"Chief Factor John Work was coming to Fort Vancouver to train Ballenden, but Ogden left Ballenden's immediate training in Anderson's hands and boarded a ship for the east coast."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Saskatchewan Brigade to Edmonton House, part Two

It is worthwhile to read journals of those who are strangers to the fur trade, to explore the newcomers' view of what is so familiar to the fur traders themselves that they [the fur traders] failed to mention it.
The Arctic explorers who have been mentioned in a few express journals posted in the last few weeks, also travelled with the voyageurs -- either in the Saskatchewan brigades or in their own canoes or boats.
Here, from the book, The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage, by Anthony Brandt [Anchor Books, 2011] is a quote from one of John Richardson's letters, which describes the voyageurs that travelled with them:

"At two or half past two if the morning is dark Capt. [John] Franklin or myself call the guide, who ... awakens the men.
"They are on their legs in an instant, and every man marches to the beach with his blanket under his arm.
"Part of them put the canoe into the water and load her, while others take down our tent, & roll up the bedding in which operation we assist.
"In ten minutes or at the longest half an hour we are all embarked, and the men after their morning dram ... strike up a cheerful song and paddle away vigorously at the rate of about 4 miles an hour.
"Every half hour they lay in their paddles for about two minutes to rest a little and light their pipez, hence these pauses are termed by them pipez.
"At 9 o'clock we put ashore to breakfast.
"My occupation is to strike a light and I therefore jump ashore at once with my fire bag in my hand.
"Capt. Franklin brings a handful of dry twigs or grass or a piece of birch bark.
"Two of the men bring dry wood, a fire is speedily kindled, our servant who in the mean time has been filling the kettle, hangs it to the troi pied or tripod, three sticks which another of the men has by this time tied together and set up."

Antony Brandt goes on to report: "Breakfast takes three quarters of an hour at the most, he says, and then it's back to the canoes until three in the afternoon, when the men take a longer break than usual and eat a little pemmican.
"At eight they put ashore for the night, and dinner is prepared with equal dispatch; it consists of "tea, cold meat, eggs, cheese, butter &c according to the state of our larder," and then they sleep.
""We consider it a good days journey when we travel 60 miles, but two days ago we travelled about 80 having paddled all night..... ""
I cannot imagine starting off in the early morning without at least a cut of coffee to sustain me -- the voyageurs had at least their early morning dram.
They were tough, tough people -- voyageurs and gentlemen alike.

The following is a continuation of the last posting, in which I put in three journals that covered the distance of the North Saskatchewan River, between Carlton House and Edmonton House.
Here, now, are the last three journals.

Diary of a Journey from Fort Vancouver in 1835, by James Douglas:
Thursday September 1. Having concluded the various arrangements with Carlton last evening we recommenced our journey at 6 o'clock this morning. The sky was overcast, and threatening rain, but these vapours were quickly dispersed by a brisk northerly breeze which was of great assistance to us during the whole day. Encamped about 6 miles above Ash Island. The country on both sides very beautiful and picturesque, rising from the river by a sloping and undulating ascent to the highest level visible from the river. On this level the age [sic: eye?] of the spectator ranges through  the vast expanse of prairie variegated and adorned by innumerable groves of trees, smooth green hills and streams of water forming altogether one of the [crossed off: first] finest prospects imaginable.
Weds. 2. Raining all day. Met with a party of Stone Indians who provided us with a quantity of fresh buffalo meat. Encamped 12 miles below Lower Eagle Creek.
Thursy. 3. Fine weather but cold for the season. Encamped. Passed Lower Eagle river at 10 o'clock. Beautiful country.
Friday 4. Rather severe frost last night. Many of the people who slept with wet garments or bed clothes found them this morning stiff as boards. The oar is now principally in use the water being too high to admit of any advantage being derived from the line. Sky overcast and frequent showers of rain. Several bands of buffalo were seen by the hunters but none slaughtered.
Sat. 5. A very dense fog occasioned considerable difficulty to the boats, being in continual danger of becoming entangled amidst the numerous flats which obstruct and render the ascent very tedious and circuitous. Beautiful clear day and very warm. Mr. McLeod a gentleman who accompanies us to the Columbia joined us today at 10 o'clock nearly opposite Battle River. It was near this spot that Mr. Cole after whom the rapids in the lower part of the river are named was shot by a Cree Indian in a transport [?] of jealous rage on account of the seduction of his wife. Encamped 5 miles below Pike River.
Suny. 6. Clear warm weather. Encamped 7 miles Bas Ford Desnoyer. Early today a poor Red deer which was hotly pursued by a pack of fierce wolves was observed rushing at full speed down the hills on the opposite side directly towards the river. This circumstance having engaged our attention the foremost boats stopped to await the issue of the pursuit. On gaining the water the red deer dashed into the stream with reckless haste having outdistanced all its pursuers. The boats lying close ashore were not perceived by the poor animals until within 50 yards when a badly aimed shot gave intimation of its danger. Gun after gun were discharged without effect. The deer crossed the river and was seen coursing through the prairie apparently uninjured having escaped with equal good fortune both from wolves and hunters.
Mon. 7. Fine clear weather, and strong westerly breeze which considerably retarded our progress. Landed on the upper [crossed off: end] or South Western extremity of Bas Ford Desnoyer at half past 9 and were detained there waiting the arrival of a boat which had fallen far behind until midday. Passed Manchester House or Fort Brule so called from the manner in which it was destroyed by the Fall Indians, at 5 o'clock, and we encamped near 9 miles above it.
Tuesy 8. Raining at intervals during the day. Had a few hours of sail, wind which was of some trifling assistance to us. Encamped at the upper end of Montagne La Biche.
Wedy. 9. Arrived at Fort Pitt about midday. Dry weather, but the sky overcast.
Thursday Septr. 10. Left Fort Pitt this morning at 9 o'clock with only one boat pretty strongly manned and with less loading than the others in order to proceed on ahead of the Brigade to Edmonton from when[ce] it is necessary to dispatch a few men to Fort Assiniboine to prepare the canoes and make other arrangements previous to the arrival of the main party. Rained heavily last night, but dry during the day. Encamped one mile below Vermilion River.
Friy 11. Early this morning continued our journey; observing a luminous circle or halo around the moon, and sky wearing a rather threatening aspect we concluded that a change of weather was not distant, and truly enough for about 7 this morning after ascending Frog Rapid the rain commenced falling rather heavily and continued throughout the day. Passed Lovers' Rapid at 2 pm and encamped 2 miles below the old fort of Dog Rump Creek. A N.E. wind was of some [blank in mss].
Saturday September 12th 1835. It rained slightly during the night but the sky was this morning clear in many places giving promise of a finer and more pleasant day than yesterday. Early in the morning passed the old fort. The banks of the river are on both sides covered with wood but we still have at times a distant view of the lefty smooth hills peering out from beyond the intervening thickets. At half past 2 reached Fort de L'isle where the deceased King shot by Lamotte lies interred. Encamped the second reach below the Rapid of Bas Fond du Lac des Aufs. While at this place a gentle easterly wind which had been gradually increasing in strength since morning induced the men to elevate the mast, and after concluding our meal the sail was spread to the breeze which carried us forward so rapidly as to render the exertions of the crew unnecessary, a respite from labour which is very acceptable to the poor fellows who are dreadfully fatigued by the long continuance of their toils. Encamped four miles the Crooked Rapids. Heard the calls, consisting of a loud whistle, of a great number of red deer on the hills bordering the river. The buck red deer is at this season in full flesh and his branching antlers are now grown to their full size, and as he stands looking proudly from the lofty smooth hills amongst which at this season he delights to ramble appears the most superb animal of the deer kind.
[Sunday] 14. The easterly wind still continues and we are not dilatory in availing ourselves of its assistance. Passed the White Mud River at 12 o'clock, and at 4 o'clock the Rapid called Lac de Vivres, and encamped at half past 7.
Mony. 15. Quitted our encampment at 4 this morning, at 9 passed the River des Quartre Peteaux, at 10 Carp River and encamped one mile above the Three Islands where the Vermillion [crossed off: Pass] River falls into the Saskatchewan. Rained during the early part of the day, and our progress was somewhat retarded by a powerful westerly wind which below [sic: blew] furiously until the evening.
[Tuesday] 16. At half past 3 the men were on the alert and before the dawn we were on the route. At 10 reached Sturgeon River; an hour & half more brought us to old Fort Augustus. Encamped a few miles above Point La Pierre.
Wesy. 17. Arrived at Edmonton about half past 2 pm.

I didn't know who Coles' Rapids was named for, but the voyageurs and fur traders of the time knew all the stories of their rivers.
But check out James Douglas' story in fur trade records before you adopt it as a "true story."

Douglas relates another story, where a man named King was shot by Lamotte at Fort de L'Isle.
This happened in the early 1800's, when the NWC and XY Company were both on the Saskatchewan River, having built posts close to each other, with Fort de L'Isle being the NWC fort.
The shooting did not happen at the fort, but at a native village nearby -- James King of the NWC, and Joseph-Maurice Lamothe of the XY Company left their forts to pick up furs they both thought they owned.
When King obtained the furs that Lamothe thought belonged to him, they argued, and Lamothe shot King.
Charges were laid against Lamothe in Montreal, and though he went to Montreal to face them he changed his mind and disappeared into the West forever.
Both the NWC and XY Co. posts were abandoned in favor of Fort Augustus upstream, or Paint Creek House [later Fort Vermilion] downstream.

Journal of a Trip from Vancouver to York Factory, Spring 1847, by Thomas Lowe, in charge of party:
Monday, 6th [September]. The Brigade started from Carlton this morning at daylight, and Messrs. O'Brien, Ross, McKenzie & myself with a Guide started on horseback after breakfast to proceed by land to Fort Pitt, but to encamp every night if possible with the Brigade. Fine weather. The boats had a fine sail wind most of the day, and came a good distance.
Tuesday 7th. Fine weather. There was a little fair wind this morning, but it soon died away. Came to within 5 miles of the Eagle Hill River in the evening. There were 5 lodges of Indians on the opposite side of the River. A great many buffalo seen today. 3 killed.
Wednesday 8th. Beautiful day. We crossed the horses this morning to the North bank of the River, and will now proceed on that side all the way up. The boats came a good distance today pulling and tracking.
Thursday 9th. Splendid fair wind the whole day. Encamped a little above Battle River. The boats stopped several hours to kill buffalo, otherwise we could have been much farther ahead.
Friday 10th. This morning the wind was very strong and only favorable until breakfast time, after which it came ahead, and we were windbound the remainder of the day. Rainy weather.
Saturday 11th. Quite calm this morning, and the boats started again. In the afternoon a light favorable breeze sprung up, and they sailed until sunset. Passed a camp of Indians containing upwards of 50 lodges in the morning. The brigade was detained for some time in the forenoon, as one of the men's wives was delivered of a son. Made good progress and encamped above English River.
Monday 13th. Beautiful weather, and a favorable breeze the whole day, which brought the Brigade to Fort Pitt before sundown. We arrived on horseback at 1 pm.
Tuesday 14th. Fine weather. The boats remained here all day, getting out the Outfit for the Post.
Wednesday 15th. Fine weather. The Brigade started from Fort Pitt this morning early, but Messrs. O'Brien, McKenzie & myself remain here to proceed overland on horseback to Edmonton.
Thursday 16th. Beautiful day. We started on horseback this morning after an early breakfast, accompanied by one of the men of the Fort as Guide. Took dinner at Frog Creek, and went on afterwards until we reached a lake on this side of Dog Rump Creek, where we encamped.
Friday 17th. The weather is still very pleasant, but unfortunately we have a poor set of horses, and have been able to make but a short distance. Encamped at a small stream, not far beyond Egg Lake.
Saturday 18th. Clear weather, and very warm. Came a good distance today. Encamped on the banks of the Saskatchewan, not far on this side of Vermillion Creek. Late when we encamped.
Sunday 19th. Excessively hot. Our horses are so much fatigued, that we only got as far as Sturgeon Creek tonight.
Monday 20th. A thunderstorm last night, and raining most of the day, with a strong gale of wind. Arrived at Edmonton about 10 am. Colin Fraser has been sent off with young Hardisty and 4 men to Jasper's House by land, taking 12 bags pemmican for us and his own outfit, which will lighten our boats considerably in the Athabasca.
Tuesday 21st. Bad weather. Raining and blowing the whole day. Engaged making arrangement with Mr. Harriott concerning the express.
Wednesday 22nd. The weather is better today, but the wind is still ahead for the boats, on their way up from Fort Pitt.
Thursday 23rd. Fine weather. The Brigade arrived early this mroning, and the pieces were immediately carted up to the Fort. Been employed all day in getting things in readiness for our departure from Edmonton.
Friday 24th. Squally, and rain in the afternoon. Had all the Otter Packs corded. Sent off the Guide with 4 men to Assinaboine, to get the boats repaired, and put in the water.

Journal from Vancouver to York Factory with express, Spring 1848, by Thomas Lowe:
Tuesday 19th [August]. The Brigade started from Carlton early this morning, with a fine breeze of wind. It was 2 pm before Mr. Rowand, Mr. Beardmore & I started on horseback to overtake them. Encamped a short distance above the Ash Island, but the boats were on the opposite side.
Wednesday 20th. Fine weather. The hunter who was with us killed 5 buffalo today, which were divided amongst the boats' crews. Encamped about 5 miles below Eagle Creek. Sailed until we reached the Elbow.
Thursday 31st. Crossed Eagle Creek before breakfast. Crossed the horses about noon to the North side of the River, and will now proceed on that side as far as Fort Pitt. Cloudy and a little rain. Wind ahead. Saw a large band of Cabres but could not get at them. Encamped about 2 miles below Fort de Glace.
Friday Sept. 1st. Breakfasted at the Bas Fond de Gibb Is [??]. Fine weather, no wind. Camped about 4 miles below Battle River. Boats opposite side.
Saturday 2nd. Breakfasted opposite Battle River. Fine weather, but a little head wind. Camped at Jack River.
Sunday 3rd. Wind strong ahead all day, and boats windbound for about 3 hours in the afternoon. Crossed Turtle Creek in the morning & breakfasted about a mile on the other side. Killed 4 buffalo (young bulls) today, and in the evening a fat cow. Encamped below the Grand Coole.
Monday 4th. Passed a large camp of Indians at noon, about 20 tents, killed two cows in the morning, and a young bull, and in the evening another cow. Had a sail wind for some time in course of the day. Camped opposite old Fort de l'Isle.
Tuesday 5th. Breakfasted at English River. The boats had a fine fair wind most of the day. Started ahead after breakfast for Fort Pitt, and arrived there about 5 pm after which the wind came ahead.
Wednesday 6th. Strong head wind all day for the boats, and they did not arrive at the Fort.
Thursday 7th. Shortly after breakfast the boats arrived. They were windbound the whole of yesterday. Had the outfit taken out (more than 100 pieces). As the water is very low the whole of the 8 boats are to go on to Edmonton, although it is usual to leave one here. They have now only 65 pieces each.
Friday 8th. The Brigade started from Fort Pitt early this morning, and after breakfast Mr. Rowand, Mr. B[eardmore] & myself started on horseback to proceed to Edmonton. Crossed to the South side & took dinner at Vermilion Creek. Fine weather. Went on until very late at night, but after all could find no proper campment being without water.
Saturday 9th. Beautiful weather. Very much annoyed by sand flies today. Passed the Chain of Lakes in the afternoon, and encamped a short distance beyond Le Bute Noir.
Sunday 10th. Fine day. Breakfasted at the Eagle's Nest Creek, and arrived at Edmonton about 10 at night. Mr. John Rowand & Mr. Colin Fraser crossed the river in a boat to take us to the fort. Mr.Brazeau was also there & Louis Leblanc. They fired 3 cannon in honour of Mr. Rowand's arrival.

With this next journal, you will have to remember that there were no buffalo in the area around Fort Carlton and the Brigade fed on domestic beef -- a worrying problem when the men in the Brigade boats worked so hard.

Journal of the Columbia Express Party, 1849, by John Charles:
2nd, Sunday [September]. It was 3 o'clock in the evening before the Brigade left Carlton for Fort Pitt. A party with 14 horses started the same time by the opposite side of the river in order to hunt for the men of the Brigade. Saw no animals to day. Camped at a small river, some two or three hundred yards above the Saskatchewan.
3rd, Monday. Had some rain last night. Chilly morning. Weather became fine towards noon. Frederick [Lewes] killed three ducks this evening after we put down to camp.
4th, Tuesday. Rained almost all night. Saw a few deer this morning but were not able to approach them. About 1 pm we waited for the boats to cross our horses to this side of the river, where we though of having better success. Two Buffalo bulls were killed to day, one by B[aptis]te Carlton and the other by a man out of the boat.
5th, Wednesday. This morning about 11 o'clock Mr. Harriott dispatched 5 of the best hunters in the brigade on horseback, the boats to wait for their return. One of them returned late at night with an animals. Had several heavy showers towards evening.
6th, Thursday. At 6 am. the hunters arrived with 4 other animals which were equally divided between the 10 boats. We started from our camp immediately afterwards.
7th, Friday. Blowing a pretty stiff breeze in the morning, right ahead. Boats obliged to be dragged through the water in many places on account of the numerous sandbanks.
8th, Saturday. The boats had very good sail wind in the morning but towards evening it veered round. Camped above Battle River about 1/2 past 5 pm where we met a boat full of dried and fresh meat sent down from Fort Pitt for the brigade.
9th, Sunday. Snowing and raining almost all day boats obliged to put ashore early.
10th, Monday. Weather, still cold and uncomfortable.
11th, Tuesday. Fine weather. Boats sailing and tracking to day.
12th, Wednesday. Mr. Harriott, Mr. Griffin, [Frederick] Lewes, Logan and myself went ahead of the brigade after breakfast and arrived at Fort Pitt about 3 pm, the boats about an hour afterwards.
13th, Thursday. The Brigade consisting of nine boats left Fort Pitt this morning about half past eleven. Messrs. Harriott, Young, Griffin and Frederick Lewes are to proceed on horseback across land to Edmonton House.
14th, Friday. After breakfast all the boats hoisted sail and the wind being light aft we were enabled to come a great distance to day.
15th, Saturday. Tracking commenced this morning. Beautiful weather.
16th, Sunday. Fine clear weather.
17th, 18th, 19th, 20th. We had beautiful dry weather during these four days. Men tracking from morning until night. Passed two camps of Freemen who were camped near the river side. No animals of any sort to be seen.

His journal ends here.
Those of you who have read my earlier posting about this young man -- dated June 16, 2012 and titled John Charles, HBC -- know that he was killed in the Athabasca Pass, shot by accident by the American, Young, who accompanied the brigade.
In his memoirs, James Robert Anderson, son of Alexander Caulfield Anderson, tells the story of John Charles death as he heard it.
This is secondary information, and of course part of the story is incorrect -- John Charles was already employed by the HBC at Fort Vancouver and had accompanied Peter Skene Ogden to Fort Nez Perces after the Waillatpu Massacre in November 1847.
But James was only 10 or 12 when this incident happened, and he would have heard the story at Fort Colvile shortly after it happened, and perhaps, again, at Fort Vancouver.
In later years he might also hear the story from his close relative-by-marriage, William Charles:
"John Charles, a brother of the late William Charles, was in 1849 coming over with a party to join the Company at Fort Vancouver, and one evening in camp on the Rocky Mountains a certain Mr. Young, an American, who had obtained permission to accompany the party, whilst displaying his gun, of which he was rather proud and it is said which he handled in quite an inexperienced manner, accidentally discharged it, the full charge entering John Charles' body killing him instantly.
"The body was buried on the spot, but at the instance [sic] of his father, was some years after brought to Fort Vancouver and interred in the cemetery there.
"A useless, and as it turned out, a most unwise proceeding, as the last time I saw the grave it was in the parade ground of the U.S. troops garrisoned at Fort Vancouver and is now, I suppose, unmarked and unremembered."

I have had a short conversation with Tom Holloway, the gentleman who writes the Fort Vancouver blog -- Fur Fort Fun Facts -- found at
He tells me that the graveyard under the military parade ground was the first of two Fort Vancouver graveyards, and no one knows who was buried there.
He has, unfortunately, nothing more to add to John Charles story, but is keeping his eye open for information he might stumble on. 

Since writing the first posting about John Charles on June 16, 2012, I have learned a little more about the man who shot him.
In June 1849, George Simpson wrote to the Board of Management from Norway House, telling them this:
"A person named Young who has long been resident and well known in Canada as a master Shipbuilder, a shrewd intelligent man and an excellent tradesman both theoretically and practically, applied to me this season for a passage across the continent with a view to his proceeding to California.
"Considering it likely that he might be very useful in assisting in the repairs of the Steamer if they were done at any of our own establishments, in drafting and laying down a new Vessel, or in laying the ways at the coal mine &c [in Fort Rupert, Vancouver's Island], I agreed to give him a passage in consideration of his rendering the Company six months service after his arrival at Fort Vancouver..." [D.4.39, fo. 94, HBCA]
Other correspondence in the same batch of letters tell us the man's name is Alexander Young, and it was expected that he would pay for his free passage by working for the company for six months without pay, but for room and board.
I have found no mention that Alexander Young fulfilled his obligation, and certainly he is not listed in Bruce Watson's books, Lives Lived West of the Divide.
If I remember he was, a short time later, working for an American shipbuilder and not for the company at all!
Young might have been shipped up to Fort Rupert, but I suspect the fur traders at Fort Vancouver were so disgusted with Young that they encouraged him to move on.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

To Edmonton House with the Saskatchewan Brigade, Part One

The North Saskatchewan River is a historic river, and in an article I discovered in the magazine, Canadian Geographic (November/December 2003), author Myrnah Kostash of Edmonton, writes of her experience of the river she grew up beside:
"In October 1795," she writes, "the Company of Adventurers Trading into Hudson Bay built Edmonton House on the banks of the river to trade for furs, ..." and she goes on to say that little remains  of the fur trade in Edmonton itself.
"Yet the same water -- the current, the tow, the shoals -- that begins as a rivulet issuing from the massive Columbia Icefield on the eastern slope of the Rockies and, downstream from Edmonton, joins waters from our river's sister, the South Saskatchewan, still runs all the way to Hudson Bay.
"And the same water that once confounded the hide bumboats of the Indians, the crude cows and ferries of the homesteaders and the heavy mass of supply-loaded York boats still flows along undisturbed by anything more than the occasional canoe being paddled effortlessly downstream...
"It's the 21st century: what is a river for? Ask the writers, those who have sat beside it, paddled up and down it, risked life and limb getting across it, who have catalogued, painted, apostrophized, poeticized and theorized it. They have taken its measure."
This article is filled with paintings of the river, and stories -- a delightful read, in a beautiful magazine.

In my collection of books I have another Myrna Kostash item (and I had not realized until now that she authored both book and article) -- Reading the River: A Traveller's Companion to the North Saskatchewan River, by Myrna Kostash with Duane Burton [Coteau Books, 2005]
In her preface she begins with her reading of the European best-seller Danube, in which the writer travels this  historic river to the Black Sea, and..."I began to wonder: could we talk about one of the great Canadian rivers this way?
"The North Saskatchewan River, say, along whose banks I have spent most of my life?
"The notion seemed ludicrous; after all, just how much history have we made here?
"And just how old is our poetry?
"But I soon recognized these questions as beside the point, or rather too "European" in their focus.
"Much of the very earliest history of the river -- the story of Aboriginal interactions with it -- remains unwritten, of course, or is at best inferred from European accounts and contexts, but there has been history along this river since the first human communities gathered along it; there's been poetry since the first story described its source, its power, and its gods."
She has written a fine book and done her river proud; the book is filled with fur trade and other stories and will teach you a lot about her mighty North Saskatchewan.
I read it years ago and kept it -- I will have to re-read it.

To continue our journey west from Carlton House to Edmonton House.
I am dividing this posting into two portions, because some of the journals are very long and I did not find a good place to "pause."

Journal of a Voyage across the Continent of North America in 1826 by Aemilius Simpson, R.N.:
Tuesday 22nd [August] On leaving Carlton House, we proceed to Iroquois Point about 6 miles above that place. The course of the River is much obstructed by land banks n this part of it. As the post cannot furnish a supply of provisions to our brigade, it will be necessary to send our hunter out before us to endeavour to kill buffalo which are seen to be in great abundance upon the banks of the river a short distance above here.
Wednesday 23rd -- Along our days track mud banks frequently [form] in the bed of the River which makes the channel very intricate. The immediate banks are muddy, but the [land] upon gaining the summit of a rise on bank of gentle ascent, is a vast surface of plains. Continue our ascent of the Saskatchewan, alternately tracking and rowing, at 9 we landed to breakfast, our horse party joining us but after breakfast they proceeded to the hunting ground, Messrs. Rowand and MacMillan accompanying the Hunters. Mr. [George] Barnston succeeded in killing one (a deer) this afternoon, which afforded us a venison supper -- these deer are small kind resembling the fallow deer and are called chevreuil by the Canadian. We had a heavy fall of rain in the evening.
Thursday 24th -- [Illegible] We had a continuance of heavy rain during the night but cleared up at 5.30 when we pursued our journey favoured by a fair breeze from the NW until entering the Elbow. Having made the round of the Elbow & nearly opposite the Eagle Hill Creek, we fell in with our hunting party with a very seasonable and abundant supply of buffalo meat consisting of six of these animals, which were equally distributed to our canoes. Being anxious to witness the landing of the buffalo, I accompanied the hunting party and mounting our horses we [galloped] into the Plains in pursuit of that object. We had not yet arrived when a bull afforded the Hunter an opportunity of displaying his talents, but as he was not thought worthy of a chase upon horse, he was approached by the hunters crossing along the ground & when [at a short] distance he fired and mortally wounded the animal, but it did not prevent his retreating to a patch of wood in the neighbourhood, where we followed him & before he was finally dispatched he received six balls through his body. [Rest omitted]
Saturday 26th -- The bed of the river continues to have numerous shoals, and islands occasionally occur [heavily] cloaked in willows...
Thursday 31st -- Thick fog in am. but cleared up at sun rise. At 9.15 landed to breakfast and continue on shore until 2 pm. drying the cargo of the boat. It being no longer necessary for the horses to follow the circuit our route of the boats, they were dispatched for Edmonton, their place of destination, Messrs. Rowand, McMillan, McDougal & Birnie accompanying them & by crossing the plains, they expect to get to Edmonton in four days -- they follow the track south of the Saskatchewan.....
[part of journal omitted]
Saturday 9th [September] -- From our mornings encampment the course of the river is particularly winding, and branded by very high cliffs. Having come a distance of 19 miles, we arrived at Fort Edmonton, or Augustus, at 4 pm. The gentlemen of our party that had left us on the [31st of August] had made their journey to this in five days which took us nine and the time occupied in our journey from Carlton was eighteen days. In the cliffs bounding the river on our days track I observed great abundance of coals running in horizontal strata, [and] these coals are used by the blacksmith of the establishment, but as what he makes use of is merely the outer surface, they do not shew themselves of a very good quality. .. Fort Edmonton is the most important trading post on the Saskatchewan, it is situated on the north bank of the river & is in a good state of defense against Indian attack. A very necessary precaution, as the Indian tribes visiting it are formidable, viz. the Blackfeet, Blood & Crees.
There is a considerable extent of farm adjoining the fort, which is now rendering an abundant crop of wheat, barley, oats & potatoes -- and a garden producing excellent vegetables. There is an extensive range of pasture land, also along the bank of the river affording an abundant provision for horses. Deer are very numerous in this track of country -- of red deer -- principally. Bears both of the black & grizzly kind are also numerous.
Sunday 10th -- We had a sharp frost during the night. They have had a great deal of that weather north of here of late, which they are apprehensive will [freeze] in the road between here & Assiniboine, being wet and swampy, so that it will be difficult for our horses to haul it. Men were sent from here several days ago to that plain to bring a supply of horses to bring us across the portage. They are hourly expected here. This being Sunday, is observed as a Holy day.
Monday 11th -- Fine but cold weather. There are employees preparing the goods into packs for transportation across the portage. The horses arrived this afternoon from Assiniboine but they will require a rest before they are able to return again.
Tuesday 12th -- A continuation of cold weather but fine during the day. The day has been occupied with making preparations for our journey across the Portage. Mr. Rowand favoured us with a ball in the evening which appeared to diffuse a great deal of delight & pleasure amongst the numerous partakers of the Amusement. All appeared [willing] to decorate themselves in their best attire, and although among so many there were some grotesque figures, yet the general appearance of the group was very pleasing, and I was not a little amazed to see scotch reels, and [word] Country dances, danced with a spirit & grace that would not disgrace a far more refined society. Among the half breeds and Canadians particularly, I observed some excellent dancers, & the half breed girls, tho' evidently not so proficient in that act, made a very good appearance & seemed much pleased with the entertainment. We have a reason to be obliged to Mr. Rowand for his great kindness & hospitality since our arrival at his establishment.
Wednesday 13th -- The commencement of fine weather, a distribution of the horses & loads having been made among the men, the Columbia Brigade commenced the journey across the portage at 2 pm. The Athabasca & Upper Slave Lake took departure in the evening, the whole brigade consisting of about 50 men and 83 horses, 33 of the [horses] Columbia, and New Caledonia. As the loaded horses cannot travel very expeditiously, I with some of the gentlemen continued at the Fort for the night, with the intention of following in the morning.

As I told you previously, when I downloaded the above journal I was following my great-great-grandfather, James Birnie, across the country.
As a result I omitted a lot of the journal -- and now, of course, I wish I hadn't!
Aemelius is a very interesting writer and tells some good stories.

Journal of a Voyage from York Factory to Fort Vancouver, Columbia River, 1827, by Edward Ermatinger:
26th, Sunday [August] Fine weather. Started with 6 Boats between 8 and 9 am. At 5 afternoon hoist sail with a fresh breeze which soon increased to a gale with thunder and lightening. Encamped about 7 o'clock.
27th -- Fine weather. Started about 5 am. Continued pulling and tracking until 7 and encamped about the Elbow. Found an Indian and some half breeds on the Island encamped also. On their way to Carlton.
28th -- Fine weather. Started at 1/2 past 4 am. Wind ahead -- rowed and tracked all day. Encamped a little after 7 pm.
29th -- Fine warm weather. Started at 5 am. Saw several Bulls (Buffalo) opposite to Basfond Guilbache about 1 pm. -- killed one. Encamped on a Sandy Island after having stopt on the main shore to cook and take supper.
30th -- Weather as yesterday. Hoisted sail about 4 am. with a moderate breeze and continued sailing till about 3 o'clock when the wind shifts ahead. Encamped on Island at 7 pm.
31st -- Fine weather. Started at 1/2 past 4 am. Passed the Battle River this morning. In the evening hoisted sail with a fair wind which scarcely favours us when we are driven ashore by a perfect storm of head wind about 6 o'clock. Encamped.
September 1st, Saturday -- Fine weather. Started at 4 am. Saw a Black Bear to-day at which several shots were fired, but missed. Continued rowing and tracking all day against a head wind. Encamped at 8 pm.
2nd -- Fine weather. Started at 4 am, travelled till 10 o'clock rowing and tracking, then having taken breakfast hoist sail with a fresh breeze. East[er]ly wind which pushes us forward till night and put ashore a few hours at the lower end of the long reach below Vermillion about 8 pm. Two men went off along shore to hunt this morning and killed a Cabris.
3rd -- Fine weather. Started this morning a little after midnight and sailed to the upper end of the long reach by 10 o'clock, Here we found 2 men with 8 horses from Edmonton -- from them we got a little deer's meat. At noon we resume our journey with a strong breeze -- 4 men proceed along ashore with the horses -- passed Vermillion Creek at 1/2 past 1 pm. Encamped 1/4 before 8 o'clock some distance above the Frog Rapid.
4th, Tuesday -- Fine weather. Started about 4 o'clock and took breakfast at 10 at the Old Fort [Old Fort George] below the Dog Rump Creek. Hence two men were dispatched on horseback for Edmonton in order that horses may be brought home in readiness by the time the boats arrive. Wind still continues to favour us and assists us in ascending many strong rapids. Continued sailing till 6 o'clock in the evening when it calmed and we proceeded tracking till 1/4 before 8 and encamped at 4 or 5 miles above the Island House.
5th -- Commenced raining last night and continued till 9 this morning -- afterwards fine weather but wind strong ahead. Started before 5 am. Afternoon hunters informed us they had killed 4 Red Deer and wounded another some distance off -- therefore we put ashore and wait while they bring it to the boats -- about 7 pm the hunters arrive with the meat which having embarked we continued our voyage and encamped at Craig's point at 1/4 past 8 o'clock.
6th -- Fine weather. Light shower of rain toward evening. Started at 4 am, got up the Rapids Croche by 1/2 past 3 pm, several lines broken at this rapid. Encamped at 1/2 past 8 o'clock.
7th -- Fine weather. Started 1/2 past 4 am. Continued tracking all day and encamped 1/4 before 9 pm.
8th -- Fair weather. Started at 4 am. Arrived at the Carp Creek at 11 o'clock and took breakfast. Found a party of Crees encamped at this place, from them traded some furs and provisions after which Messrs. Rowand set off on horseback. Encamped a little above the Painted Creek at 9 pm.
9th, Sunday -- Fine weather. Started at 5 am and encamped 9 pm about 3 miles above Pointe a Perogin.
10th -- Fine weather. Embarked 1/2 past 4 am. and arrived at Edmonton about 1 o'clock.
11th & 12th -- Remained at Edmonton arranging our baggage and waiting till the Saskatchewan were ready, as Mr. [Michael] Klyne has to accompany us to the mountains with an outfit for Jasper's.

Journal of a Voyage from Norway House to Fort Vancouver, Columbia River, 1831, by George Traill Allan:
Saturday 20th [August] We set out after breakfast. the face of the country is now entirely changed, large plains instead of woods now surround us.
Monday 22nd -- Mr. Rowand having brought six horses from Carlton Mr. Douglas and I went on shore today to take a ride, accompanied by an Indian and Canadian as guides, we rode from 2 pm to half past eight when we joined the other gentlemen at the encampment. The horses in this part of the country are small but swift and hardy. During our ride across the plains we fell in with a large company of Cree Indians. The Cree when on horseback and with all their warlike accoutrements have a formidable and fine appearance, most of the present company were mounted and accompanied by an immense number of dogs. Some of them, the dogs, I mean, dragging sleighs, others loaded with parcels of furs etc. We remained nearly an hour talking to them by means of the guide, and then set out to overtake the boats. We now lived in style having taken as much fresh meat from Carlton as the boats could carry.
Tuesday 23rd -- The weather very sultry. Mr. Grant and I went on shore to pick up some berries, but were soon driven from the bushes by mosquitoes who pursued us in myriads. The heat was very oppressive at this part of our voyage, and indeed for long distances the banks of the Saskatchewan are lined with bushes heavily loaded with stone cherries, but on ascending the banks a view is to be obtained as far as the eye can reach of vast plains dotted over here and there with, as it were, small islands of wood and occasionally of small lakes.
Wednesday 24th. Mr. Rowand accompanied by Messrs. Finlayson, Douglas & I went out on horseback to hunt buffalo. After a ride of about two hours, we suddenly perceived on emerging from a kind of gully, a very large bull, who no sooner discovered us, than he set off at his utmost speed in another direction. We lost no time in giving him chase, nor did our horses require either whip or spur to induce them to follow, for being broke into hunting they seemed to enjoy it as much as their riders, at least if I may judge from my charger, who was so unwilling to be restrained that in attempting to do so, the saddle which had not been sufficiently tightened, came under his belly and as might have been expected, down came I full tilt upon the ground, but fortunately without injury. Having set my saddle to rights, I was soon in full pursuit again, but Mr. Rowand, being an old hunter and better mounted than the rest of us, soon came up with and wounded the buffalo who took refuge in a small thicket of wood, where he soon expired. As he proved to be very lean, we only carved off his tongue and left the rest of his body a prey to the wolves who are very numerous in the plains of the Saskatchewan.
Thursday 25th -- We fell in today with about thirty tents of Assinaboine or Stone Indians. They are a nation of rogues who think it no crime to steal, rob, and even murder their warriors. It is said, are a fine looking race of men, but we had not now an opportunity of seeing them as they were absent on a War party, nor did we much regret that circumstance, as had they been present it would have been necessary for us to keep a sharp look out, we only saw the old men, women and children.
Saturday 27th -- I went on shore today and walked to Fort Pit, a small establishment under the charge of Mr. Small who received us kindly. We found at the Fort about two hundred tents of Cree Indians. They are in general a quiet people, except when they get liquor, when they become very troublesome. I reached Fort Pit about an hour before the boats, where I waited their arrival.
Sunday 28th -- We started after breakfast, Messrs. Rowand, Finlayson and Grant now left us in order to ride across the plains to Fort Edmonton, the winter quarters of Mr. Rowand.
Monday 29th -- One of the men having gone out hunting, killed a fine moose deer which proved very acceptable, we having some time ago expended the fresh meat with which Mr. Pruden had supplied us on leaving Carlton.
Sunday, 4th September -- We set out as usual at 4 am. Messrs. Douglas, Pambrun and I left the boats in order to walk to Fort Edmonton which we reached at 5 o'clock pm and found that Mr. Rowand and his party had arrived there three days ago. I found Edmonton a very complete and handsome Fort. It is built upon a very high bank of the River Saskatchewan and is surrounded by plains and woods. As the Indians who frequent it are dangerous some pains have been taken to make it efficient. A high well contrived balcony is built all the way round, from whence in times of danger an enemy's approach can be seen from a great distance. The value of a balcony is duly appreciated in the Saskatchewan country owing to a melancholy circumstance which took place only a few years ago. A man from a small fort had gone out hunting when he was suddenly pursued by a band of Indians who came up with him and killed him in sight of the fort into which they rushed and murdered every soul. Nor did the inside of Fort Edmonton belie its outward appearance as we found ourselves very comfortably lodged and entertained by Mr. Rowand with the greatest hospitality, fed upon excellent moose deer and buffalo meat we might well have challenged all the tables in London to produce us something better. I had here an opportunity of seeing a couple of Blackfoot Indians. They are a fierce looking race and such treacherous villains that they have been know[n] whilst smoking the pipe of peace in one end of a camp of other Indians, to have committed murder in the other, nor do they pay any respect to the Whites but on the contrary, cut them off whenever they find themselves the strongest.

I just did a quick check through Jack Nisbet's book, The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest, to discover if it was David Douglas who crossed the plains with George Traill Allen in 1831.
It was not -- unless there is another man carrying the surname of Douglas in the fur trade, it must have been James Douglas.
Imagine stuffy old Governor James Douglas -- who the settlers later called "Old Square Toes" -- climbing on a horse and galloping wildly across the prairies after buffalo!
I would never have thought it possible.

This is a two part post.
I put three of the journals in this section, and the rest will go in to the next post.
But just to finish it off, I will tell you a little about Edmonton House, or Fort Edmonton.
Artist Paul Kane wintered at Edmonton in 1845-1846, and had plenty to say about the place.
At the time he was there, a chief factor and clerk were stationed there, along with about fifty men who lived with their half-breed or Native wives and mixed breed children.
The number of dogs that were around Edmonton House always amazed visitors, and Paul Kane tells the story of how the fur traders harnessed the dogs, using them to bring in buffalo meat.
"Early next morning I was aroused by a yelling and screaming that made me rush from my room, thinking that we were all being murdered; and there I saw the women harnessing the dogs.
"Such a scene!
"The women were like so many furies with big sticks, threshing away at the poor animals, who rolled and yelled in agony and terror, until each team was yoked up and started up."

And Kane also tells the story of the Christmas he celebrated at Edmonton House:
"On Christmas day .. about two o'clock we sat down to dinner.
"Our party consisted of Mr. Harriett, the chief, and three clerks, Mr. Thebo, the Roman Catholic missionary from Manitou Lake [St. Anne] about thirty miles off, Mr. Rundell, the Wesleyan missionary, who resided within the picket, and myself...
"The dining-hall in which we assembled was the largest room in the fort, probably about fifty by twenty-five feet, well warmed by large fires, which are scarcely ever allowed to go out.
"The walls and ceilings are boarded, as plastering is not used, their being no line-stone within reach; but these boards are painted in a style of the most startling barbaric gaudiness, and the ceiling filled with centre-pieces of fantastic gilt scrolls, making altogether a saloon which no white man would enter for the first time without a start, and which the Indians always looked upon with awe and wonder...
"No tablecloth shed its snowy whiteness over the board; no silver candalabra or gaudy china interfered with its simple magnificence.
"The bright tin plates and dishes reflected jolly faces and burnished gold can give no truer zest to a feast.
"At the head, before Mr. Harriett was a large dish of boiled buffalo-hump; at the foot smoked a boiled buffalo calf.
"Start not, gentle reader, the calf is very small, and is taken from the cow by the Caesarean operation long before it attains its full growth.
"This, boiled whole, is one of the most esteemed dishes amongst the epicures of the interior.
"My pleasing duty was to help a dish of mouffle, or dried moose nose; the gentleman on my left distributed, with graceful impartiality, the white fish, delicately browned in buffalo marrow.
"The worthy priest helped the buffalo tongue, whilst Mr. Rundell cut up the beavers' tails.
"Nor was the other gentleman left unemployed, as all his spare time was occupied in dissecting a roast wild goose.
"The centre piece of the table was graced with piles of potatoes, turnips, and bread conveniently placed, so that each could help himself without interrupting the labours of his companions.
"Such was our jolly Christmas dinner at Edmonton; and long will it remain in my memory, although no pies, or puddings, or blanc manges shed their fragrance over the scene.

"In the evening the hall was prepared for the dance...." and this would be a dance very similar to the dance all the fur traders enjoyed as they passed through Edmonton House on their way to the Columbia.
"The dancing was most picturesque, and almost all joined in it.
"Occasionally I, among the rest, led out a young Cree squaw, who sported enough beads round her neck to have made a pedlar's fortune, and having led her into the centre of the room, I danced round her will all the agility I was capable of exhibiting, to some highland-reel tune which the fiddler played with great vigour, whilst my partner with grave face kept jumping up and down, both feet off the ground at once, as only an Indian can dance."
This description, and many more, come from a James G. MacGregor book, Blankets and Beads: A History of the Saskatchewan River [1949].
It is packed with information about all the forts along the Saskatchewan River, and contains, of course, a lot of information about Edmonton House.
Of course, if you want it, you will have to look for it in a second-hand book store or find it in your local or University Library.
Another more recently published book is Brock Silversides' Fort de Prairies: The Story of Fort Edmonton.
This book contains more stories about the six hundred dogs that lived at Edmonton House!
"Dogs were used on toboggans by the Company and in case of failure of buffalo meat, dogs were used as food.
"In fact, they often were used in place of horses, taking in provisions from the plains, when the snow was too crusted or unfit for horses to travel.
"Such a howling and barking as these dogs indulged in was terrifying and disagreeable."
Between the howling dogs and the constant Indian drums -- a story which I told you on the outgoing voyage to York Factory -- Edmonton must have been an enormously noisy place!
The adventurer James Carnegie, Earl of Southesk, visited the fort in 1860, and also took note of those dogs:
"There are more dogs here than at any other place I know.
"They are mostly of the ordinary Indian kind, large and long-legged and wolfish, with sharp muzzles, pricked ears, and thick, straight, wiry hair.
"White is one of the most usual colours, but brown, blue-grey, red, yellow and white marked with spots .. are also common.
"Most of them are very wolfish in appearance, many being half or partly, or all but entirely, wolves in blood..."

And as you know, Alexander Caulfield Anderson had reason to appreciate the usefulness of these same dogs.
From The Pathfinder: A. C. Anderson's Journeys in the West, when an early winter caught his party on the upper Fraser River and forced them to walk across the Rocky Mountains to Edmonton House!

"Anderson and some of his men crossed the frozen portage to reach Edmonton House in late November, in deplorable condition. Chief Factor John Rowand greeted them and arranged that the [John] McIntosh family remain at Edmonton House until spring. In early December, Anderson and a few men retraced their steps toward Fort Assiniboine and Jasper's House, this time with seven sledges, drawn by three dogs apiece, that carried 300 pounds of pemmican. Anderson described their journey:

Three of us passed in advance in order to trace the road, while the sledge drivers followed in the rear upon the track thus beaten. Of course, all were provided with large snowshoes ... On such occasions we usually started about two o'clock in the morning, and continued till near sunset, with the solid delay of an hour for breakfast. The dogs used for transport in this part of the country are ordinary curs; the sole requisites being that they combine hardiness under severe cold with a certain degree of strength, activity, and endurance. The sledges used are merely flat planks of Birch half an inch thick, turned up in front, about sixteen inches broad and nine feet of length for load. The load is protected by a parchment envelope which is laced over all with a stout cord passing through a succession of loops fastened along either side of the sledge.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Up the North Saskatchewan River to Carlton House

Let us continue the upriver journey toward the Columbia District, by the returning York Factory Express and Saskatchewan Brigade.
This series of journals begins somewhere around the Cole's Rapids, on the Saskatchewan River.
In this experimental combination of journals, the beginnings and endings can be somewhat arbitrary, as some journal keepers camped before they reached the twelve mile long set of rapids (which some called "falls") and some after.
Almost all fur traders used the word "falls" to indicate rapids, though, as Anderson noted after his exploration down and up the Fraser River, "there is no such abrupt descent as the name implies."

Journal of a Voyage across the Continent of North America in 1826 by Aemilius Simpson, R.N.:
Thursday 17th [August] The frequency of the rapids and great strength of current requires an additional force upon our track line, so that the crews cannot form an hourly relief of fresh hands, which obliges them to take frequent rests so that our progress is very much retarded. The lay of the country is extensive, plains as far as the eye can see.
Friday 18th. Commenced fine weather we embarked at 4 am and continued our ascent by tracking until 6 am, when having got above the rapids into a comparatively still part of the river resembling a chain of lakes, we took [good] use of a fair wind & made sail, but a heavy fall of rain at 7 was followed by a calm. Noon it cleared up and we had a good [breeze] from the East but at 2 pm we had a thunder storm with heavy rain which continued for an hour, when it again became fine clear weather -- a few leagues brought us again into rapids, and the river along our track has been richly studded with islands, low and flat, bearing a rich growth of poplars & willows principally. the bounding country continues extensive plains by crossing which in a direct line, I am informed it is only two days journey to Carlton House. The Banks of the river occasionally rise & form perpendicular clay cliffs with flat summits, the intervening flats are thickly wooded.
Saturday 19th -- Commenced heavy rain, with wind NW at 4.15 am. At 7 am it cleared up and became fine. We discovered on an eminence skirted with woods on the left banks of the river a few Indian lodges and horses, we put on shore to breakfast that we might communicate with these Indians, whom we found to be a party of Crees, who had been attacked a few days before by a strong war party of the Blackfeet & Blood Indians, who had succeeded in killing ten of their nation & destroying their property. They however [word] thus they had retaliated amply, by killing more than [that] number of the enemies, but no reliance can be placed on Indian authority in such cases, it is evident they had the worst of it as they were flying out of the reach of Blackfeet, with the [remnants] of their property. They say they were taken by surprise & that most of their enemy was dispatched, their apprehension of another attack was so strong that they have requested that we will cross them and their families on the opposite bank [and] this request was readily complied with [much omitted here].
Sunday 20th. The country now presents a [view] of rich meadow land, with [many] groves of wood interspersed on its surface. Came a distance of 6 leagues and arrived at Carlton House at 3.15 pm. This post is pleasantly situated and in a very good state of defense against Indian attack, which is very necessary in this quarter as the neighbouring Indians are warlike and formidable. I make the distance by estimation, by the course of the river, from Cumberland House 304 miles, to a direct line it is only 163. The travelling distance from York Factory is by my estimation 1,002 miles.
Monday 21st. The transfer of Mr. Stuart from this post to the Lesser Slave Lake detains the brigade until he completes the necessary arrangements with his successor, Mr. Pruden. Carlton House is situated about 1/4 of a mile [from] the south bank of the Saskatchewan, a flat surface of country extending for rather more than that distance to a bank with rather a steep ascent, but moderate elevation, forming a rise of [word] running parallel to the course of the river. On gaining the summit of which immense plains present themselves to the utmost range of human vision, on the flat ground immediately in the neighbourhood of the fort a considerable track [tract] of land is new cultivated and produces very good returns of wheat, barley, potatoes, and vegetables in considerable perfection, the surrounding country produces great quantity of the hazelnut, the poyer, a very rich berry, the choke cherry & other [kinds] of new fruit. The tillage of land was intensely new to the Indians who looked upon it with great curiosity at the first introduction, but have shown no disposition to follow the example, which would be a great step towards their civilization. We found a band of horses at this Post that had been sent from Edmonton to wait the arrival of our Brigade, and who fortunately is [prey to] the thieving depredations of the Indians, who seldom fail in availing themselves of any opportunity that offers in that way. The evening was hot & sultry with vast numbers of moskitos.

Journal of a Voyage from York Factory to Fort Vancouver, Columbia River, 1827, by Edward Ermatinger:
20th [August] Fine weather. Started at 5 am. At point below Campement des Femmes found a man from Carlton with the meat of 2 Buffaloes, of which we took breakfast. Owing to the badness of one of the staves in a 2 gallon keg (Brandy) which we got at York Factory for Columbia, outcoming 1828, we found that just the half has run out in LaRance's boat. Desaire having a sore foot remained at our Encampment unknown to us. McKay went off in search of him and only arrived at the Encampment with him at 11 pm. Encamped at 1/2 past 7 o'clock one point above Rapide Croche.
21st. Fine warm weather. Started at 5 am. Encamped a point above Sturgeon River.
22nd. Started at 1/2 past 4 am. At 9 o'clock we were met by Gadana with meat from Carlton. Breakfasted and afterwards hoisted sail with a fresh breeze, but did not sail far when the wind headed us and we again took to the oars. Encamped about 8 pm in sight of the Steep Banks.
23rd. Fine weather. Mosquitoes very thick. Started before 4 am. Sailed for a short distance; arrived at Carlton after 3 pm. Yesterday it appears the last of a party of about 400 Slaves, Sourcis and other Indians took their departure after having stolen 7 horses and committed other depredations about the Fort.
24th. Very warm weather and mosquitoes so thick that we can get no rest night or day. employed giving out the orders and outfit of this place &c.
25th. Weather very warm and mosquitoes very thick. Outfit for this place completed and Boats reloaded.

Journal of a Voyage from Norway House to Fort Vancouver, Columbia River, 1831, by George Traill Allan:
Tuesday 16th August. About noon today we met a canoe from Fort Carlton loaded with fresh buffalo meat sent by Mr. Rowand who had gone on ahead for a supply for the boats.
Wednesday 17th. Very heavy rain, remained on shore during the forenoon. The country which had hitherto been covered with wood, now begins to have a beautiful appearance, large plains now and then breaking in upon the view.
Thursday 18th. We started at 4 am. and at half past 10, we reached Fort Carlton, and were regaled by Mr. Pruden, the gentleman in charge with an excellent breakfast on Buffalo stakes.
Friday 19th. Remained at Carlton enjoying Mr. Pruden's hospitality. Fort Carlton is situated on the banks of the river Saskatchewan, in winter it is rather a dangerous post from the number of Indians that frequent it, particularly the Assinaboines.

Diary of a Journey from Fort Vancouver in 1835, by James Douglas:
Tuesday 25 [August] Departed at the dawn of day from our encampment [at Campement des Femmes], and after a few hours travelling ascended the Crooked Rapid without accident. The sky rather overcast and threatening but no rain fell. Proceeded with the oar almost all day. Country on both sides of the River of some elevation, wooded with intervals of prairie land.
Wed. 26. Rained during the night and nearly the whole of the day. Found a camp of Crees at Sturgeon River from whom a quantity of provisions was traded. Encamped nearly 10 miles below the willow banks.
Thurs. 27. Rained during the great part of the night. At dawn of day we continued our journey, tho' the weather is by no means favourable for the preservation of the property as the rain still continues. After a few hours rowing a gentle breeze from the N. East aided the exertions of the crew very considerably in propelling the boats against the powerful current, and as it gradually increased the oar was entirely laid aside our advance being too rapid to admit of them being used to advantage. Arrived at Carlton at 3 pm. The gardens at this place have a very unpromising appearance; the potato crops were entirely destroyed by the severe frosts, the wheat is still green and the ears not filled. the barley being a more hardy grain has suffered less and has a finer appearance. 150 tents of Crees are in the vicinity.
Saty. 29. The rest of the boats which we had left behind arrived late this evening. A party of Crees also arrived from a war excursion which they had entered into in conjunction with their allies the Stone Indians. They have been but too successful in executing their barbarous projects, having surprised and by their accounts nearly destroyed a camp of nearly 200 Fall Indians. The leader of the party is the man who holds the knife.

Journal of a Trip from Vancouver to York Factory, Spring 1847, by Thomas Lowe, in charge of party:
Wednesday, September 1st. Fine weather. The Brigade came up to us at Campement des Femmes at breakfast time, having come up Cole's Falls very well, as the water is in a good state. Passed the Crooked Rapid in the afternoon, and went 10 miles beyond.
Thursday 2nd. Fine pleasant weather. Pulling the whole day, and made an average day's work.
Friday 3rd. Squally, and a little rain. Came a good distance today.
Saturday 4th. Raining at intervals during the day, and blowing strong ahead. Arrived at Carlton about 3 pm. and before dark the Outfit for the Post was taken out of the Boats.
Sunday 5th. Cloudy, and a little rain. Nothing was done today, but all is ready to start tomorrow.

Journal from Vancouver to York Factory with Express, Spring 1848, by Thomas Lowe:
Friday 25th [August]. This morning the boats came up to us and breakfasted. Got up the Rapid Croche about noon, and tracked & rowed the remainder of the day against a strong head wind.
Saturday 26th. Exceedingly warm, although there was a strong breeze ahead. Passed some Indians about noon on the right bank of the River. Made the usual days march.
Sunday 27th. Warm clear weather. After breakfast came to where the Carlton horses are kept, when Mr. Beardmore & I took horses and rode to the Fort, where we arrived at sunset. Messrs. Rowand & [Duncan?] Finlayson arrived here early this morning with the light boat.
Monday 28th. Fine day. The Brigade arrived at breakfast time, when we had the Outfit for the post taken out, and everything arranged before night. A boat is to be left here.

Journal of the Columbia Express Party, 1849, by John Charles:
29th, Wednesday [August] At 2 pm we reached "Rapid de Croche" and at half past four the men put away the tracking lines and took to their oars. Camped at half past seven. Some parts [of] the channel very shallow indeed. On the beach some of the men in the Guides boat found a slip of Birch Bark on which was written the accounts of Mrs. Rowand's decease.
30th, Thursday. At 1 pm. we arrived opposite the Sturgeon River where we traded a few sturgeon, some berries, etc. from Indians encamped there. Warm weather.
31st, Friday. Pulling and tracking all day. Wind pretty strong towards evening. Encamped below a high bank, a quarter after eight.
Sept. 1st, Saturday. Arrived at Carlton House exactly at 11 am., the boars were all discharged and the Carlton Outfit taken up to the Fort. Messrs. [John] Rowand, Young and James Simpson started on horseback for Edmonton a few minutes before our arrival. No buffalo meat to be had at this Fort in consequence of those animals being at such a distance. The Brigade feeding on domestic Beef.

From this great distance (the west side of the Rocky Mountains) it is sometimes hard to find out much about these prairie posts.
My books are almost entirely British Columbia or Columbia River histories -- the collection, which is fairly substantial, hardly touches on the east side of the mountains!
However, this I know about Carlton House -- it was an old post with a long history.
It was first established in 1795 at or near the junction of the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers.
This first post was abandoned in 1804 and rebuilt some 90 miles to the southwest, on the South Saskatchewan River.
In 1810 it was moved again, to its present site on the North Saskatchewan.
Because of its location close to the buffalo herds, it quickly became a key provisioning post, providing the nearby posts and the men of the brigades with fresh buffalo meat and pemmican, fresh produce and grains grown in their gardens.
Today the old fort is partially reconstructed, and re-enactors celebrate the old fur trade days.
It is only an hour's drive north of Saskatoon, in Fort Carlton Provincial Historic Park.
You can get more information on the fort from the Saskatchewan website, Virtual Saskatchewan, at
Did you know that employees of the trading shop worked in unheated surroundings because of the gunpowder on site?
I did not.

I do, however, have the records of the Journal of Carlton House, 1832/33, kept by J. P. Pruden, Chief Trader, B.27/a/19, HBCA.
This journal tells the story of Anderson's passage through that place in 1832:
"Sept. 2nd -- Sunday. Wind Ely, cloudy weather with light rain. The weather has been very unsettled for a month past.
"Sept. 3rd -- Monday. Wind Sly, fine weather. Men variously employed. Martin Labelle and party arrived with the meat of 4 buffalo and informs me the Buffalo are all passed and gone up country. In the evening at sun set 2 boars arrived in which was Chief Traders Heron and Cowie, Clerks Mr. Annace and Anderson. They inform me they left the rest of the brigade at La [?] Point.
"Sept. 4th -- Tuesday. Calm. fine weather. 8 boats arrived. Chief Trader Harriott on board [with] Messrs. Grant and Kittson and Mr. Simon McGillivray, wife and family, commenced immediately on getting the outfit for this post brought up to the fort....
"Sept. 5th -- Wednesday. Windy Wst, cloudy weather with as little rain...
"Sept. 6th -- Thursday. Calm clear fine weather. Having finishing [loading] the Outfit 8 boats took their departure for Edmonton. Passengers Messrs. Chief Traders Heron, Harriott & Cowie. Clerks, Mssrs. Grant, Annace, Kittson & Anderson, at 11 o'clock am. Indians arriving but bring nothing."

But I think that one of the most interesting things to know about Carlton House is that, for the gentlemen at least, this is where the fun began!
This is where the gentlemen mounted their horses and charged around the prairies chasing buffalo, if they were to be found nearby.
Certainly, that is what Alexander Caulfield Anderson got to do, when he crossed the country in 1832.
I know this, because he said so.
In a letter to his uncle Alexander Seton, that is stored in the Seton of Mounie Archives at University of Aberdeen, Scotland, he said this:
"Fort Vancouver, Columbia, 14th February, 1833
"My dear uncle
"I arrived here on the 4th November after a voyage from York Factory of 3 1/2 months -- partly on horseback -- in boats & in canoe.
"I am now on the point of starting for the north west coast in a brig belonging to the Company -- in company with a party of two other Gentlemen & 40 men, the object being to erect an establishment at a place called Millbank Sound.
"This Fort is finely situated on the Columbia River, and the soil is very fertile. The company has a very large Farm on which are raised annually about 7,000 bushels potatoes, 500 & [word] and of wheat, 5,000 or 6,000 of pease & [word] Melons are also raised here in large quantity, and a few apples & turnips are now procured. From what I stated before, you may imagine it would be a fine country to settle. The River is huge & navigable for 100 miles from its mouth. Salmon are in immense quantity as well as the moose.
I have killed only one buffalo & one deer since I have been in this country and a great many ducks, geese, partridges, etc.
Pray give my love to my aunt and all my cousins, and believe me to remain,
My dear uncle,
Your affectionate nephew,
A. C. Anderson."