Sunday, July 28, 2013

Coming soon: Website and new blog

I will keep you up with the news on that: needless to say its creation is causing me some stress (as I accidentally delete "About" Pages and don't know how to replace them, for example). I am in the process of hiring a professional to make a really good site, and look forward to it being functional!

However my new blog is up and running and has a half dozen posts on it -- it is found at
As you can see I am concentrating on Alexander Caulfield Anderson in this blog, and so you might recognize some of the items posted as they have come from this blog, more or less intact.

Also, in the meantime, I have another book underway, and it is coming along quite quickly. I will need information from some of the people who have followed me for a while, and perhaps I will find new fur trade descendants as well.

John Lee Lewes will be a fairly major character in this book, and as I already am in touch with his descendant I do not need to talk to another -- unless of course you have information that neither of us has! By the way, I think that John Lee Lewes suffered from phantom limb pain -- an illness the doctors at that time were certainly unable to deal with and one that mystifies medical personnel today. One of the persons to whom my book is dedicated had a limb amputated and went through phantom limb pain. He was highly intelligent and knew exactly what caused the condition but still suffered from it -- he said it was most odd.

There are other characters I know little of but who appear regularly in this manuscript. One of them is George McDougall, the founder of Fort Alexandria. This is what Bruce McIntyre Watson says about McDougall:
Birth: probably Montreal, c.1788 (Canadian Scottish)
Death: probably at Lesser Slave Lake, 1850
George McDougall, brother of James McDougall, appears to have been working in the Peace River in 1815 for the HBC party commanded by John Clark. Around that time he left the HBC at Fort Vermilion, and crossed the mountains to visit his brother James in the New Caledonia area. The following year, while he was in New Caledonia, he joined the NWC but continued on with the HBC after 1821. In the fall of 1821 he constructed Fort Alexandria, where Anderson spent so many of his years. Around 1826 he had some difficulty in establishing the Chilcotin post, which he was finally able to establish in 1830.
Joseph McGillivray said that George McDougall was an "unexceptionable man" but "an ifficent Trader." He left Fort Alexandria and continued his employment at Lesser Slave Lake, until at least 1843 -- it appears he remained a clerk the entire time and so was, perhaps, another of the men that Governor Simpson refused to reward with a chief Tradership!

Dr. William Todd will also be a character, and this is what Watson tells us about him:
Birth: Ireland, about 1784
Death: Red River Settlement, December 22, 1851
Irish born William Todd joined the HBC as a surgeon in 1816. Between 1816 and 1827 he was employed at a variety of posts east of the Rocky Mountains, and came over with the returning Express in September 1827. After a brief stint in the Columbia district he returned to Red River becoming Chief Trader in 1831. In that year Governor Simpson thought that, because of his lack of French, and his drinking habits, he would not go far in the fur trade. However William Todd worked for the HBC until his death twenty years later.

Pierre Chrysologue Pambrun -- a fascinating character in the fur trade west of the Mountains:
Birth: French Canadian born in Quebec City, December 1792
Death: Fort Nez Perces, May 1841
Pierre Pambrun was one of the few French Canadians to achieve the rank of Chief Trader. He served in the War of 1812 and reached the rank of lieutenant in the French Canadian Voltigeur regiment of the British army. After he joined the HBC in 1815, he was witness to, and gave evidence at the trials of the "Seven Oaks Massacre" in Red River. In 1831 he was posted west of the mountains. George Simpson admired him for his pluck, but had reservations about his business abilities though made him Chief Trader in 1839. Pambrun had a reputation for hospitality, especially among the first Americans to come west. He died when his horse fell on him at Walla Walla and injured him with the pummel of his Spanish saddle -- and so now I know that sometimes there were saddles in the fur trade. His horse (perhaps the one that killed him) ended up at Fort Alexandria and is mentioned by A. C. Anderson in the post journals.

I understand that Pambrun wore his red coat when he was trading with the Natives. So, too, did Archibald Norman McLeod -- another fabulous character! Both the McLeod River and McLeod Lake post are named for this man, and though he served at Fort St. James (and was in command of the place for the NWCo.) he is not mentioned in Bruce Watson's "Lives Lived."

So, who else do I need to know something more about? Charles Allan Griffin, for example.
He was born in Montreal and died in Ontario, July 1874.
Griffin joined the HBC from Montreal around 1846, and spent his first three years in two posts east of the Rockies. On June 9, 1849, he took his passage for Norway House on his way to the Columbia, and for the next three years he worked in the New Caledonia district as clerk, and eventually, Chief Trader. In 1853 he was at Fort Simpson; in 1859 he was in charge of the sheep farm on San Juan island during the dispute, and was the worker who asked the Americans to withdraw their troops from British territory. Dr. Helmcken described Griffin as a "splendid fellow -- a rushing active spirited lithesome and blithesome fellow -- a Canadian, at home with a canoe and horses -- a sort of typical Canadian young man -- with a French dash in him."

Now, that's the kind of information I need to have about all these fellows -- something that sets the man apart from the others!

Robert Clouston: I have some of his writing and believe me, he's funny! He was in Edmonton at Christmas 1850, about the time that James Sinclair was crossing the mountains, and wrote this of Sinclair: "James Sinclair after wandering about the plains and the borders of the Mountains, and having six horses stolen by the Blackfeet, made his appearance at Rocky Mountain House about the end of September, looking out for a guide, and he trifled and humbugged so long that the probability is that he was caught in the snow before he got quite through [the mountains] though we have heard nothing of him since...." His letters, found in the Donald Ross collection in BCA, are quite good and very chatty.
Anyway, Clouston will be in two upcoming books, and so here is a little about him, from Bruce Watson's "Lives Lived:"
Birth: Stromness, Orkey
Death: during a voyage on board the Fanny Major between the Sandwich Islands and San Francisco, August 1858.
Robert was the son of a Stromness merchant and HBC agent and joined the HBC on June 13, 1838, as an apprentice clerk. For the next twelve years he served in Edmonton, Oxford House, Upper and Lower Fort Garry and York Factory. Tall and active, Clouston usually wore a capote and red sash. He got tuberculosis from his wife, and in 1849 went to Scotland for a cure. In 1850 he came to the Columbia and ended up on the Sandwich Islands. He died, apparently, in a state of delirium brought on by his lingering tuberculosis, poor man.

However, I am looking at the dates that I have and discovered, I think, that we have two different Cloustons here -- one for each story. John Clouston was born in the Orkneys and came to Fort Vancouver where he died in August 1854. He was employed at Fort Vancouver by 1851 and died at the end of his contract. Well, I am going to have to be careful with my Cloustons, I can see!

Do I have time for one more furtrader? I think I do. Joseph Wordsworth Hardisty it is. He was born to Richard Hardisty and Margaret Sutherland in the Northwest Territories, in 1823, and he died in Quebec in 1906. He joined the HBC in 1847 as an apprentice post master but did a variety of tasks, including washing clothes. He rose through the ranks in a variety of positions in the Columbia and became a Chief Factor in 1872. I know that he was very much appreciated as a bookkeeper, both at Fort Vancouver and later at Fort Victoria, where he straightened out their very confused records! He retired from the fur trade in 1884. I believe he may be a great-grandson of Francois "Old Man" Beaulieu, through Beaulieu's daughter who married a fur trader named Hardisty. Perhaps a descendant can confirm that for me.

So can you guess what I am writing about? No, I didn't think so. But I need to know a little about quite a few fur trade characters, and so will have lots of other information coming here in future weeks. It just takes organization... and in the creative stages one is often quite short of that!

Thank you for your patience.


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