Some of the people who are just joining Fur Trade Family History, have come into the middle of a long post which started -- amazingly enough -- on August 11th, 2012 with the outgoing York Factory Express that left Fort Vancouver in the spring.
It generally took about six months or so for the York Factory Express to make their way from Fort Vancouver to York Factory, and back to the Columbia District.
With one post a week, we have taken about the same length of time.
When I began this project, I did not realize it would take so long to enter these journals into my blog.
Well, we're not finished yet!
Let's get the last few batches of expressmen over the Athabasca Pass, to Boat Encampment.
Diary of a Journey from Fort Vancouver in 1835, by James Douglas:
Sat. 10th [October] Left the fort and encamped at the Little Rocher, 6 miles from the fort.
Sun. 11. Fine weather. Encamped at Henry's House. distance 20 miles; time 5 hours.
Mon. 12. Weather variable. Rain and fair weather by turns. Stopped at Prairie de la Vache, and encamped on the holey river. Distance 18 miles.
Tues. 13. Raining in the morning, and in the evening heavy snow which rendered this day particularly disagreeable; drenched to the skin by the rain in the early part of the day, we were by no means prepared for the transition which followed to heavy snow. The encampment and a good fire were highly relished by all. Stopped at Commencement of Moose Encampment, & encamped 2 miles below Grand Batture. Distance 22 miles.
Wedy. 14. Stopped at Gun Encampment and slept before commencing the Big Hill. Time 8 hours. Distance 18 miles. Rain & snow.
Thurs. 15. Stopped at foot of the Hill. Encamped after passing the point of woods. Distance 17 miles. Rain & snow.
Friday 16th. Arrived at the Boat Encampment in the afternoon. Found here 3 men from Colvile who are to assist us down with the boats. These men arrived here on the 1st and after waiting a few days without seeing us, Lamotte very properly dispatched 4 of them to Colvile remaining there himself with two others. Fair weather. Distance 19 miles. Total distance, 120 miles.
Journal of a Trip from Vancouver to York Factory, Spring, 1847, by Thomas Lowe, in charge of party:
Wednesday 20th [October] Cold weather and blowing strong. As the river was unusually high this season, I sent off Michel the Guide with 1 man to take a boat up to the Grand Traverse as we will require a boat to [carry] the packs to that place. Mr. Fraser has been engaging [himself] today to accompany us across the Mountains, and getting [ready]. Had the boats hauled up on the beach. The [men who] accompanied us from Edmonton now return there, excepting two, who are to wait here for the Express from the Columbia.
Thursday 21st. Cold cloudy weather. Started from Jasper's House this forenoon with 54 loaded horses having only 10 engaged men and 4 Indians with us, 6 of our men being off in the boat. As there is but little chance of our getting the packs across the season, on account of the depth of snow in the mountains, we take with us materials for making snow shoes. Had much difficulty in starting, the horses being wild and the men awkward, and got in consequence only as far as the head of the Lake, where we encamped.
Friday 22nd. Fine weather. Made but poor progress in consequence of having so few men. Encamped at the Rocher de Bon Homme. As the country here about was overrun with fire this spring, the roads are very bad.
Saturday 23rd. Rained last night. Fine clear weather during the day. Sent back the two men who accompanied us from Jasper's House to clear the road. In the evening reached the Grand Traverse, where we met the boat which the guide has brought up. He arrived only about an hour before us. Crossed the [river] in the boat, and swam the horses. Encamped on the opposite bank.
Sunday 24th. Beautiful clear weather, but very cold. Sent Michel & 2 men ahead to clear the road, which stands in much need of it [all the way] to the Campment d'Original.
Monday 25th. Another fine day. Made rather a short distance. Encamped at the Grand Batture.
Tuesday 26th. Cloudy all day, and snowing a little in the afternoon. Much snow in the road all day, on the height of land 2 feet. Made a very long day's march, having encamped at Mr. Rae's Encampment, but it was dark before we reached it.
Wednesday 24th [sic]. Snowed considerably last night. Got down the Grand Cote today, and encamped on the first batture.
Thursday 25th [sic]. Snow and sleet the whole day. The road through the woods was in a horrible state, but we got to the middle of the last batture, although it was late when we encamped.
Friday 26th. The weather in the fore part of the day was very boisterous, blowing hard with rain and sleet, which rendered the road through the woods exceedingly bad. Arrived at the boat encampment in the afternoon, where we found Mr. [Paul] Kane, two sons of Dr. Kennedy's, and 12 men. They brought up two boats from Colvile, which with the two we left here in the spring will make 4 boats in all to go down the river with. Mr. Kane and the two boys are to cross the mountains with the horses. I am afraid they will find much difficulty in getting across owing to the depth of snow. They have been waiting here for us for 20 days, but there is still an abundance of provisions left, as Mr. [John Lee] Lewes sent up an unusually large quantity from Colvile.
Notice that in 1847 artist Paul Kane is travelling out of the territory West of the Rocky Mountains with the outgoing express.
He will spend the winter at Edmonton House, after journeying through the Columbia district.
He gave us a lot of information about the happenings that proved so important to our history -- specifically about the Waillatpu Massacre that is covered in my blog postings dated Sunday, July 8 2012, Waillatpu Mission, Summer to Fall 1847; Saturday, July 21, The Waillatpu Massacre, November 29, 1847; and Sunday, August 5, After the Massacre at Waiilatpu.
There are two good books in the Greater Victoria Public Library, which tell us more about this period of time and also show the drawings he made, of Fort Nez Perce and the Waillatpu Mission itself.
One of them will also tell you how badly the missionary, Marcus Whitman, treated the Native men who hated him.
But most importantly, to this post, is his description of the journey across the mountains into the Columbia district.
These following quotes come from the book, Paul Kane, the Artist: Wilderness to Studio, by Kenneth R. Lister [Royal Ontario Museum Press, 2010] -- a beautiful book.
 "Over a three-day period [in 1846], Kane descended from The Committee's Punch Bowl down to Boat Encampment on showshoes.
"During his descent, he had to wade across stretches of river a torturous seventeen times.
[His journal reads:] "The water was up to my middle, running very rapidly, and filled with drift ice, some pieces of which struck me, and nearly forced me down the stream.
""I found on coming out of the water my capote and leggings frozen stiff.
""My difficulties, however, were only beginning, as I was soon obliged to cross again four times, when, my legs becoming completely benumbed, I dared not venture on the fifth, until I had restored the circulation by running up and down the beach. [end of journal quote]"
"On reaching Boat Encampment, he found that the brigade had been waiting thirty-nine days for his arrival.
"Due to the lateness of the season, the men were more than anxious to begin their descent of the River.
"Boat Encampment was a staging point, or rendezvous, on the Upper Columbia River.
"The name refers to the time when explorer David Thompson wintered there, and during the early months of 1811, he and his men built a plank boat.
"Here is where the westbound brigades continued their journey in boats after crossing the Athabasca Pass and where the eastbound brigades faced the climb up to The Committee's Punch Bowl and then the descent down to the Athabasca River.
"Often brigades needed to wait at Boat Encampment, as Kane himself experienced, for those brigades travelling from the opposite direction, which could be delayed by the rigours of the journey....."
And so we will continue with the last journal of the incoming Columbia express.
Journal of a Trip to York Factory with Express, Spring 1848:
Tuesday 10th [October] Beautiful day. Started from Jasper's House late in the afternoon with a band of 34 horses, 27 of which were loaded. Encamped about 2 miles above the Lake, sent off the guide with two men to arrange the boat at the Grand Traverse. Got 6 bags of Pemican and some fresh meat from Mr. Fraser. Four of our men who have sore feet and legs are on horseback. The three men from Edmonton cross the Mountains with us to bring back the horses and Mr. [John Lee] Lewes' property.
Wednesday 11th. Beautiful warm weather. Started from our encampment early am. Went on very well. Encamped at a small River a short distance below Prairie de .....
Thursday 12th. Rained during the night, but continued fair during the day. Got to the Grand Traverse about 10 am and crossed without taking off the loads. Michel & the two others had arranged the boat, but we did not require it. The road beyond the Grand Traverse are very bad, and we had a great many trees to clear out of the way. Encamped at the Campement d'Original, but it was late when we got there.
Friday 13th. Began raining before daylight, and continued so the whole day, but we went on nevertheless. Went on very well in spite of the snow, and encamped at Mr. Rousseau's encampment.
Saturday 14th. Snowed the whole of last night and this morning there was upwards of 6 inches of snow on the ground. Brightened up in course of the day, but the melting of the snow rendered the roads miserable. Got to the first Batture at the foot of the Grand Cote.
Sunday 15th. Beautiful weather. I started ahead this morning for the Boat Encampment. When I arrived about 3 pm. found C. F. Lewes & family, Mrs. [Francis] Ermatinger & daughter, Mrs. Fraser & family and Mr. Angus McDonald waiting for us there, to cross the mountains with horses which we have brought. They have been here for only 6 days, having taken 20 days to come up from Colvile. About an hour after dark Mr. Beardmore & the brigade arrived, except 3 of the laziest who have fallen behind, and can not come up tonight. Mr. Lewes brought up two boats from Colvile, and there are 7 engaged men and 5 Indians to go back with us, also Mr. Frazer's family.
You will see that John Lee Lewes appears to leave the Columbia district twice -- first in 1847 when his possessions are taken out over the mountains.
He actually remained in charge of Fort Colvile for the next six months because of illness, which meant that Alexander Caulfield Anderson was able to go out with the New Caledonia brigades, leading them to Fort Langley over the newly opened but unfinished Anderson River trail.
As I said about this outgoing brigade, in my speech at the Author's Celebration in November 2011:
"The journey out to Fort Langley was a chaotic disaster -- the return journey to Kamloops no better.
"Horses fell from cliff tops carrying valuable trade goods with them, and frustrated fur traders had fist fights while voyageurs deserted Fort Langley for an easier life in the California gold fields, and one man took his own life rather than tackle the return journey home!
"The following year proved equally difficult, and three or four years passed before the fur traders had a reasonable, if not entirely satisfactory, trail into the interior forts from Fort Langley...."
But all these stories are told in my book, The Pathfinder: A.C. Anderson's Journeys in the West.