Web Text-ures Logo
Web and Book design,
Copyright, Kellscraft Studio
1999-2009


(Return to Web Text-ures)
Kellscraft Studio Logo
(HOME)

CHAPTER VII.
AUGUST, 1789.

Saturday, 1. We embarked at three this morning, the weather being clear and cold, with the wind at South-East. At three in the afternoon we traversed and landed to take the canoe in tow: here was an encampment of the natives, which we had reason to suppose they had quitted the preceding day. At five we perceived a family, consisting of a man, two women, and as many children, stationed by the side of the water, whom we had not seen before. They informed us, that they had but few fish, and that none of their friends were in the neighbourhood, except the inhabitants of one lodge on the other side of the river, and a man who belonged to them, and who was now occupied in hunting. I now found my interpreter very unwilling to ask such questions as were dictated to him, from the apprehension, as I imagined, that I might obtain such intelligence as would prevent him from seeing Athabasca this season. We left him with the Indian, and pitched our tents at the same place where we had passed the night on the fifth of last month. The English chief came along with the Indian to our fire; and the latter informed us that the native who went down part of the river with us had passed there, and that we should meet with three lodges of his tribe above the river of the Bear Lake. Of the river to the Westward he knew nothing, but from the relation of others. This was the first night since our departure from Athabasca, when it was sufficiently dark to render the stars visible.

Sunday, 2. We set off at three this morning with the towing-line. I walked with my Indians, as they went faster than the canoe, and particularly as I suspected that they wanted to arrive at the huts of the natives before me. In our way, I observed several small springs of mineral water running from the foot of the mountain, and along the beach I saw several lumps of iron ore. When we came to the river of the Bear Lake, I ordered one of the young Indians to wait for my canoe, and I took my place in their small canoe. This river is about two hundred and fifty yards broad at this place, the water clear and of a greenish colour. When I landed on the opposite shore, I discovered that the natives had been there very lately from the print of their feet in the sand. We continued walking till five in the afternoon, when we saw several smokes along the shore. As we naturally concluded, that these were certain indications where we should meet the natives who were the objects of our search we quickened our pace; but, in our progress, experienced a very sulphurous smell, and at length discovered that the whole bank was on fire for a very considerable distance. It proved to be a coal mine, to which the fire had communicated from an old Indian encampment. The beach was covered with coals, and the English chief gathered some of the softest he could find, as a black dye; it being the mineral, as he informed me, with which the natives render their quills black.

Here we waited for the large canoe, which arrived an hour after us. At half past ten we saw several Indian marks, which consisted of pieces of bark fixed on poles, and pointing to the woods, opposite to which is an old beaten road, that bore the marks of being lately frequented; the beach also was covered with tracks. At a small distance were the poles of five lodges standing; where we landed and unloaded our canoe. I then despatched one of my men and two young Indians to see if they could find any natives within a day's march of us. I wanted the English chief to go, but he pleaded fatigue, and that it would be of no use. This was the first time he had refused to comply with my desire, and jealousy, I believe, was the cause of it in the present instance; though I had taken every precaution that he should not have cause to be jealous of the Canadians. There was not, at this time, the least appearance of snow on the opposite mountains, though they were almost covered with it, when we passed before. Set two nets, and at eleven o'clock at night the men and Indians returned. They had been to their first encampment, where there were four fires, and which had been quitted a short time before; so that they were obliged to make the circuit of several small lakes, which the natives cross with their canoes. This encampment was on the borders of a lake which was too large for them to venture round it, so that they did not proceed any further. They saw several beavers and beaver lodges in those small lakes. They killed one of these animals whose fur began to get long, a sure indication that the fall of the year approaches. They also saw many old tracks of the moose and reindeer. This is the time when the rein-deer leave the plains to come to the woods, as the mosquitoes begin to disappear; I, therefore, apprehended that we should not find a single Indian on the river side, as they would be in or about the mountains setting snares to take them.

Monday, 3. We proceeded with a strong Westerly wind, at four this morning, the weather being cloudy and cold. At twelve it cleared up and became fine; the current also increased. The water had fallen so much since our passage down the river, that here, as in other places, we discovered many shoals which were not then visible. We killed several geese of a larger size than those which we had generally seen. Several Indian encampments were seen along the river, and we landed at eight for the night.

Tuesday, 4. At four in the morning we renewed our course, when it was fine and calm. The night had been cold and a very heavy dew had fallen. At nine we were obliged to land in order to gum the canoe, when the weather became extremely warm. Numerous tracks of rein-deer appeared on the side of the river. At half past five we took our station for the night, and set the nets. The current was very strong all day, and we found it very difficult to walk along the beach, from the large stones which were scattered over it.

Wednesday, 5. We raised our nets, but had not the good fortune to take a single fish. The water was now become so low that the eddy currents would not admit of setting them. The current had not relaxed its strength; and the difficulty of walking along the beach was continued. The air was now become so cold; that our exercise, violent as it was, scarce kept us warm. We passed several points which we should not have accomplished, if the canoe had been loaded. We were very much fatigued, and at six were glad to conclude our toilsome march. The Indians killed two geese. The women, who did not quit the canoe, were continually employed in making shoes of moose-skin, for the men, as a pair did not last more than a day.

Thursday, 6. The rain prevented us from proceeding till half past six, when we had a strong aft wind, which, aided by the paddles, drove us on at a great rate. We encamped at six to wait for our Indians, whom we had not seen since the morning; and at half past seven they arrived very much dissatisfied with their day's journey. Two days had now elapsed, since we had seen the least appearance of Indian habitations.

Friday, 7. We embarked at half past three, and soon after perceived two rein-deer on the beach before us. We accordingly checked our course; but our Indians, in contending who should be the first to get near these animals, alarmed and lost them. We, however, killed a female rein-deer, and from the wounds in her hind legs, it was supposed that she had been pursued by wolves, who had devoured her young one: her udder was full of milk, and one of the young Indians poured it among some boiled corn, which he ate with great delight, esteeming it a very delicious food, At five in the afternoon we saw an animal running along the beach, but could not determine whether it was a grey fox or a dog. In a short time, we went ashore for the night, at the entrance of a small river, as I thought there might be some natives in the vicinity of the place. I ordered my hunters to put their fusees in order, and gave them ammunition to proceed on a hunting party the next day; they were also instructed to discover if there were any natives in the neighbouring mountains. I found a small canoe at the edge of the woods, which contained a paddle and a bow: it had been repaired this spring, and the workmanship of the bark excelled any that I had yet seen. We saw several encampments in the course of the day. The current of the river was very strong, and along the points equal to rapids.

Saturday, 8. The rain was very violent throughout the night, and continued till the afternoon of this day, when the weather began to clear, with a strong, cold, and Westerly wind. At three the. Indians proceeded on the hunting expedition, and at eight they returned without having met with the least success; though they saw numerous tracks of the rein-deer. They came to an old beaten road, which one of them followed for some time; but it did not appear to have been lately frequented. The rain now returned, and continued till the morning.

Sunday, 9. We renewed our voyage at half past three, the weather being cold and cloudy; but at ten it became clear and moderate. We saw another canoe at the outside of the wood, and one of the Indians killed a dog, which was in a meagre, emaciated condition. We perceived various places where the natives had made their fires; for these people reside but a short time near the river, and remove from one bank to the other, as it suits their purposes. We saw a path which was connected with another on the opposite side of the river. The water had risen considerably since last night, and there had been a strong current throughout the day. At seven we made to the shore and encamped.

Monday, 10. At three this morning we returned to our canoe; the weather fine and clear, with a light wind from the South-East. The Indians were before us in pursuit of game. At ten we landed opposite to the mountains which we had passed on the second of the last month, in order to ascertain the variation of the compass at this place: but this was accomplished in a very imperfect manner, as I could not depend on my watch. One of the hunters joined us here, fatigued and unsuccessful. As these mountains are the last of any considerable magnitude on the South-West side of the river, I ordered my men to cross to that side of it, that I might ascend one of them. It was near four in the afternoon when I landed, and I lost no time in proceeding to the attainment of my object. I was accompanied only by a young Indian, as the curiosity of my people was subdued by the fatigue they had undergone; and we soon had reason to believe that we should pay dearly for the indulgence of our own. The wood, which was chiefly of spruce firs, was so thick that it was with great difficulty we made our way through it. When we had walked upwards of an hour, the under-wood decreased, while the white birch and poplar were the largest and tallest of their kind that I had ever seen. The ground now began to rise, and was covered with small pines, and at length we got the first view of the mountains since we had left the canoe; as they appeared to be no nearer to us, though we had been walking for three hours, than when we had seen them from the river, my companion expressed a very great anxiety to return; his shoes and leggins were torn to pieces, and he was alarmed at the idea of passing through such bad roads during the night. I persisted, however, in proceeding, with a determination to pass the night on the mountains and return on the morrow. As we approached them, the ground was quite marshy, and we waded in water and grass up to the knees, till we came within a mile of them, when I suddenly sunk up to my arm-pits, and it was with some difficulty that I extricated myself from this disagreeable situation. I now found it impossible to proceed; to cross this marshy ground in a straight line was impracticable, and it extended so far to the right and left, that I could not attempt to make the circuit; I therefore determined to return to the canoe, aud arrived there about midnight, very much fatigued with this fruitless journey.

Tuesday, 11. We observed several tracks along the beach, and an encampment at the edge of the woods, which appeared to be five or six days old. We should have continued our route along this side of the river, but we had not seen our hunters since yesterday morning. We accordingly embarked before three, and at five traversed the river, when we saw two of them coming down in search of us. They had killed no other animals than one beaver, and a few hares. According to their account, the woods were so thick that it was impossible to follow the game through them. They had seen several of the natives' encampments, at no great distance from the river; and it was their opinion that they had discovered us in our passage down it, and had taken care to avoid us; which accounted for the small number we had seen on our return.

I requested the English chief to return with me to the other side of the river, in order that he might proceed to discover the natives, whose tracks and habitations we had seen there; but he was backward in complying with my desire, and proposed to send the young men; but I could not trust to them, and at the same time was become rather doubtful of him. They were still afraid lest I should obtain such accounts of the other river as would induce me to travel overland to it, and that they should be called upon to accompany me. I was, indeed, informed by one of my own people, that the English chief, his wives and companions, had determined to leave me on this side of the Slave Lake, in order to go to the country of the Beaver Indians, and that about the middle of the winter he would return to that lake, where he had appointed to meet some of his relations, who, during the last spring, had been engaged in war.

We now traversed the river, and continued to track the Indians till past twelve, when we lost all traces of them; in consequence, as we imagined, of their having crossed to the Eastern side. We saw several dogs on both shores; and one of the young Indians killed a wolf, which the men ate with great satisfaction: we shot, also, fifteen young geese that were now beginning to fly. It was eight when we took our evening station, having lost four hours in making our traverses. There was no interruption of the fine weather during the course of this day.

Wednesday, 12. We proceeded on our voyage at three this morning, and despatched the two young Indians across the river, that we might not miss any of the natives that should be on the banks of it. We saw many places where fires had been lately made along the beach, as well as fire running in the woods. At four we arrived at an encampment which had been left this morning. Their tracks were observable in several places in the woods, and as it might be presumed that they could not be at any great distance, it was proposed to the chief to accompany me in search of them. We accordingly, though with some hesitation on his part, penetrated several miles into the woods, but without discovering the objects of our research. The fire had spread all over the country, and had burned about three inches of the black, light soil, which covered a body of cold clay, that was so hard as not to receive the least impression of our feet. At ten we returned from our unsuccessful excursion. In the mean time the hunters had killed seven geese. There were several showers of rain, accompanied with gusts of wind and thunder. The nets had been set during our absence.

Thursday, 13. The nets were taken up, but not one fish was found in them; and at half past three we continued our route, with very favourable weather. We passed several places, where fires had been made by the natives, and many tracks were perceptible along the beach. At seven we were opposite the island where our pemmican had been concealed: two of the Indians were accordingly despatched in search of it, and it proved very acceptable, as it rendered us more independent of the provisions which were to be obtained by our fowling pieces, and qualified us to get out of the river without that delay which our hunters would otherwise have required. In a short time we perceived a smoke on the shore to the South-West, at the distance of three leagues, which did not appear to proceed from any running fire. The Indians, who were a little way ahead of us, did not discover it, being engaged in the pursuit of a flock of geese, at which they fired several shots, when the smoke immediately disappeared; and in a short time we saw several of the natives run along the shore, some of whom entered their canoes. Though we were almost opposite to them, we could not cross the river without going further up it, frog the strength of the current; I therefore ordered our Indians to make every possible exertion, in order to speak with them, and wait our arrival. But as soon as our small canoe struck off, we could perceive the poor affrighted people hasten to the shore, and after drawing their canoes on the beach, hurry into the woods. It was past ten before we landed at the place where they had deserted their canoes, which were four in number. They were so terrified that they had left several articles on the beach. I was very much displeased with my Indians, who instead of seeking the natives, were dividing their property. I rebuked the English chief with some severity for his conduct, and immediately ordered him, his young men, and my own people, to go in search of the fugitives, but their fears had made them too nimble for us, and we could not overtake them. We saw several dogs in the woods, and some of them followed us to our canoe.

The English chief was very much displeased at my reproaches, and expressed himself to me in person to that effect. This was the very opportunity which I wanted, to make him acquainted with my dissatisfaction for some time past. I stated to him that I had come a great way, and at a very considerable expense, without having completed the object of my wishes, and that I suspected he had concealed from me a principal part of what the natives had told him respecting the country, lest he should be obliged to follow me that his reason for not killing game, &c., was his jealousy, which likewise prevented him from looking after the natives as he ought; and that we had never given him any cause for any suspicions of us. These suggestions irritated him in a very high degree, and he accused me of speaking ill words to him; he denied the charge of jealousy, and declared that he did not conceal any thing from us; an that as to the ill success of their hunting, it arose from the nature of the country, and the scarcity, which had hitherto appeared, of animals in it. He concluded by informing me that he would not accompany me any further: that though he was without ammunition, he could live in the same manner as the slaves (the name given to the inhabitants of that part of the country), and that he would remain among them. His harangue was succeeded by a loud and bitter lamentation; and his relations assisted the vociferations of his grief; though they said that their tears flowed for their dead friends. I did not interrupt their grief for two hours, but as I could not well do without them, I was at length obliged to soothe it, and induce the chief to change his resolution, which he did, but with great apparent reluctance; when we embarked as we had hitherto done.

The articles which the fugitives had left behind them, on the present occasion, were bows, arrows, snares for moose and rein-deer, and for hares; to these may be added a few dishes, made of bark, some skins of the marten and the beaver, and old beaver robes, with a small robe made of the skin of the lynx. Their canoes were coarsely made of the bark of the spruce-fir, and will carry two or three people. I ordered my men to remove them to the shade, and gave most of the other articles to the young Indians. The English chief would not accept of any of them. In the place, and as the purchase of them, I left some cloth, some small knives, a file, two fire-steels, a comb, rings, with beads and awls. I also ordered a marten skin to be placed on a proper mould, and a beaver skin to be stretched on a frame, to which I tied a scraper. The Indians were of opinion that all these articles would be lost, as the natives were so much frightened that they would never return. Here we lost six hours; and on our quitting the place, three of the dogs which I have already mentioned followed us along the beach.

We pitched our tents at half past eight, at the entrance of the river of the mountain; and while the people were unloading the canoe, I took a walk along the beach, and on the shoals, which being uncovered since we passed down, by the sinking of the waters, were now white with a saline substance. I sent for the English chief to sup with me, and a dram or two dispelled all his heart-burning and discontent. He informed me that it was a custom with the Chepewyan chiefs to go to war after they had shed tears, in order to wipe away the disgrace attached to such a feminine weakness, and that in the ensuing spring he should not fail to execute his design; at the same time he declared his intention to continue with us as long as I should want him. I took care that he should carry some liquid consolation to his lodge, to prevent the return of his chagrin. The weather was fine, and the Indians killed three geese.

Friday, 14. At a quarter before four this morning, we returned to our canoe, and went about two miles up the river of the mountains. Fire was in the ground on each side of it. In traversing, I took soundings, and found five, four and an half, and three and an half fathoms water. Its stream was very muddy, and formed a cloudy streak along the water of the great river, on the West side to the Eastern rapid, where the waters of the two rivers at length blend in one. It was impossible not to consider it as an extraordinary circumstance, that the current of the former river should not incorporate with that of the latter, but flow, as it were, in distinct streams at so great a distance, and till the contracted state of the channel unites them. We passed several encampments of the natives, and a river which flowed in from the North, that had the appearance of being navigable. We concluded our voyage of this day at half past five in the afternoon. There were plenty of berries, which my people called poires: they are of a purple hue, somewhat bigger than a pea, and of a luscious taste; there were also gooseberries, and a few strawberries.

Saturday, 15. We continued our course from three in the morning till half past five in the afternoon. We saw several encampments along the beach, till it became too narrow to admit them; when the banks rose into a considerable degree of elevation, and there were more eddy currents. The Indians killed twelve geese, and berries were collected in great abundance. The weather was sultry throughout the day.

Sunday, 16. We continued our voyage at a quarter before four, and in five hours passed the place where we had been stationed on the 13th of June. Here the river widened, and its shores became flat. The land on the North side is low, composed of a black soil, mixed with stones, but agreeably covered with the aspen, the poplar, the white birch, the spruce-fir, &c. The current was so moderate, that we proceeded upon it almost as fast as in dead water. At twelve we passed an encampment of three fires, which was the only one we saw in the course of the day. The weather was the same as yesterday.

Monday, 17. We proceeded at half past three; and saw three successive encampments. From the peculiar structure of the huts, we imagined that some of the Red-Knife Indians had been in this part of the country, though it is not usual for them to come this way. I had last night ordered the young Indians to precede us, for the purpose of hunting, and at ten we overtook them. They had killed five young swans; and the English chief presented us with an eagle, three cranes, a small beaver, and two geese. We encamped at seven this evening on the same spot which had been our resting-place on the 29th of June.

Tuesday, 18. At four this morning I equipped all the Indians for an hunting excursion, and sent them onward, as our stock of provision was nearly exhausted. We followed at half past six, and crossed over to the North shore, where the land is low and scarcely visible in the horizon. It was near twelve when we arrived. I now got an observation, when it was 61. 33. North latitude. We were near five miles to the North of the main channel of the river. The fresh tracks and beds of buffaloes were very perceptible.

Near this place a river flowed in from the Horn Mountains, which are at no great distance. We landed at five in the afternoon, and before the canoe was unloaded, the English chief arrived with the tongue of a cow, or female buffalo, when four men and the Indians were despatched for the flesh; but they did not return till it was dark. They informed me, that they had seen several human tracks in the sand on the opposite island. The fine weather continued without interruption.

Wednesday, 19. The Indians were again sent forward in pursuit of game; and some time being employed in gumming the canoe, we did not embark till half past five, and at nine we landed to wait the return of the hunters. I here found the variation of the compass to be about twenty degrees East.

The people made themselves paddles and repaired the canoe. It is an extraordinary circumstance for which I do not pretend to account, that there is some peculiar quality in the water of this river, which corrodes wood, from the destructive effect it had on the paddles. The hunters arrived at a late hour, without having seen any large animals. Their booty consisted only of three swans and as many geese. The women were employed in gathering cranberries and crowberries, which were found in great abundance.

Thursday, 20. We embarked at four o'clock, and took the North side of the channel, though the current was on that side much stronger, in order to take a view of the river, which had been mentioned to me in our passage downwards, as flowing from the country of the Beaver Indians, and which fell in hereabouts. We could not, however, discover it, and it is probable that the account was referable to the river which we had passed on Tuesday. The current was very strong, and we crossed over to an island opposite to us; here it was still more impetuous, and assumed the hurry of a rapid. We found an awl and a paddle on the side of the water; the former we knew to belong to the Knisteneaux: I supposed it to be the chief Merde-d'our's and his party, who went to war last spring, and had taken this route on their return to Athabasca. Nor is it improbable that they may have been the cause that we saw so few of the natives on the banks of this river. The weather was raw and cloudy, and formed a very unpleasant contrast to the warm, sunny days, which immediately preceded it. We took up our abode for the night at half past seven, on the Northern shore, where the adjacent country is both low and flat. The Indians killed five young swans, and a beaver. There was an appearance of rain.

Friday, 21. The weather was cold, with a strong Easterly wind and frequent showers, so that we were detained in our station. In the afternoon the Indians got on the track of a moose-deer, but were not so fortunate as to overtake it.

Saturday, 22. The wind veered round to the Westward, and continued to blow strong and cold. We, however, renewed our voyage, and in three hours reached the entrance of the Slave Lake, under half sail; with the paddle, it would have taken us at least eight hours. The Indians did not arrive till four hours after us; but the wind was so violent, that it was not expedient to venture into the lake; we therefore set a net, and encamped for the night. The women gathered large quantities of the fruit already mentioned, called Pathagomenan, and cranberries, crow-berries, mooseberries, &c. The Indians killed two swans and three geese.

Sunday, 23. The net produced but five small pike, and at five we embarked, and entered the lake by the same channel through which we had passed from it. The South-West side would have been the shortest, but we were not certain of there being plenty of fish along the coast, and we were sure of finding abundance of them in the course we preferred. Besides, I expected to find my people at the place where I left them, as they had received orders to remain there till the fall.

We paddled a long way into a deep bay to get the wind, and having left our mast behind us, we landed to cut another. We then hoisted sail, and were driven on at a great rate. At twelve the wind and swell were augmented to such a degree, that our under yard broke, but luckily the mast thwart resisted, till we had time to fasten down the yard with a pole, without lowering sail. We took in a large quantity of water, and had our mast given way, in all probability, we should have filled and sunk. Our course continued to be very dangerous, along a flat lee-shore, without being able to land till three in the afternoon. Two men were continually employed in bailing out the water which we took in on all sides. We fortunately doubled a point that screened us from the wind and swell, and encamped for the night, in order to wait for our Indians. We then set our nets, made a yard and mast, and gummed the canoe. On visiting the nets, we found six white fish, and two pike. The women gathered cranberries and crowberries in great plenty; and as the night came on, the weather became more moderate.

Monday, 24. Our nets this morning produced fourteen white fish, ten pikes, and a couple of trouts. At five we embarked with a light breeze from the South, when we hoisted sail, and proceeded slowly, as our Indians had not come up with us. At eleven we went on shore to prepare the kettle, and dry the nets; at one we were again on the water. At four in the afternoon, we perceived a large canoe with a sail, and two small ones ahead; we soon came up with them, when they proved to be M. Le Roux and an Indian, with his family, who were on a hunting party, and had been out twenty-five days. It was his intention to have gone as far as the river, to leave a letter for me, to inform me of his situation. He had seen no more Indians where I had left him; but had made a voyage to Lac la Marte, where he met eighteen small canoes of the Slave Indians, from whom he obtained five pack of skins, which were principally those of the marten. There were four Beaver Indians among them, who had bartered the greatest part of the above mentioned articles with them, before his arrival. They informed him that their relations had more skins, but that they were afraid to venture with them, though they had been informed that people were to come with goods to barter for them. He gave these people a pair of ice chisels each, and other articles, and sent them away to conduct their friends to the Slave Lake, where he was to remain during the succeeding winter.

We set three nets, and in a short time caught twenty fish of different kinds. In the dusk of the evening, the English chief arrived with a most pitiful account that he had like to have been drowned in trying to follow us; and that the other men had also a very narrow escape. Their canoe, he said, had broken on the swell, at some distance from the shore, but as it was flat, they had with his assistance been able to save themselves. He added, that he left them lamenting, lest they should not overtake me, if I did not wait for them; he also expressed his apprehensions that they would not be able to repair their canoe. This evening I gave my men some rum to cheer them after their fatigues.

Tuesday, 25. We rose this morning at a late hour, when we visited the nets, which produced but few fish: my people, indeed, partook of the stores of M. Le Roux. At eleven, the young Indians arrived, and reproached me for having left them so far behind. They had killed two swans, and brought me one of them. The wind was Southerly throughout the day, and too strong for us to depart, as we were at the foot of a grand traverse. At noon I had an observation, which gave 61. 29. North latitude. Such was the state of the weather, that we could not visit our nets. In the afternoon, the sky darkened, and there was lightning, accompanied with loud claps of thunder. The wind also veered round to the Westward, and blew a hurricane.

Wednesday, 26. It rained throughout the night, and till eight in the morning, without any alteration in the wind. The Indians went on a hunting excursion, but returned altogether without success in the evening. One of them was so unfortunate as to miss a moose-deer. In the afternoon there were heavy showers, with thunder, &c.

Thursday, 27. We embarked before four, and hoisted sail. At nine we landed to dress victuals, and wait for M. Le Roux and the Indians. At eleven, we proceeded with fine and calm weather. At four in the afternoon, a light breeze sprang up to the Southward, to which we spread our sail, and at half past five in the afternoon, went on shore for the night. We then set our nets. The English chief and his people being quite exhausted with fatigue, he this morning expressed his desire to remain behind, in order to proceed to the country of the Beaver Indians, engaging at the same time, that he would return to Athabasca in the course of the winter.

Friday, 28. It blew very hard throughout the night, and this morning, so that we found it a business of some difficulty to get to our nets; our trouble, however, was repaid by a considerable quantity of white fish, trout, &c. Towards the afternoon the wind increased.

Two of the men who had been gathering berries saw two moose-deer, with the tracks of buffaloes and rein-deer. About sunset we heard two shots, and saw a fire on the opposite side of the bay; we accordingly made a large fire also, that our position might be determined. When we were all gone to bed, we heard the report of a gun very near us, and in a very short time the English chief presented himself drenched with wet, and in much apparent confusion informed me that the canoe with his companions was broken to pieces; and that they had lost their fowling pieces, and the flesh of a rein-deer, which they had killed this morning. They were, he said, at a very short distance from us; and at the same time requested that fire might be sent to them, as they were starving with cold. They and his women, however, soon joined us, and were immediately accommodated with dry clothes.

Saturday, 29. I sent the Indians on an hunting party, but they returned without success; and they expressed their determination not to follow me any further, from their apprehension of being drowned.

Sunday, 30. We embarked at one this morning, and took from the nets a large trout, and twenty white fish. At sunrise a smart aft breeze sprang up, which wafted us to M. Le Roux's house by two in the afternoon. It was late before he and our Indians arrived; when, according to a promise which I had made the latter, I gave them a plentiful equipment of iron ware, ammunition, tobacco, &c., as a recompense for the toil and inconvenience they had sustained with me.

I proposed to the English chief to proceed to the country of the Beaver Indians, and bring them to dispose of their peltries to M. Le Roux, whom I intended to leave there the ensuing winter. He had already engaged to be at Athabasca, in the month of March next, with plenty of furs.

Monday, 31. I sat up all night to make the necessary arrangements for the embarkation of this morning, and to prepare instructions for M. Le Roux. We obtained some provisions here, aud parted from him at five, with fine calm weather. It soon, however, became necessary to land on a small island, to stop the leakage of the canoe, which had been occasioned by the shot of an arrow under the water mark, by some Indian children. While this business was proceeding, we took the opportunity of dressing some fish. At twelve, the wind sprang up from the South-East, which was in the teeth of our direction, so that our progress was greatly impeded. I had an observation, which gave 62. 15. North latitude. We landed at seven in the evening, and pitched our tents.

Tuesday, 1. We continued our voyage at five in the morning, the weather calm and fine, and passed the Isle a la Cache about twelve, but could not perceive the land, which was seen in our forger passage. On passing the Carreboeuf Islands, at five in the afternoon, we saw land to the South by West, which we thought was the opposite side of the lake, stretching away to a great distance. We landed at half past six in the evening, when there was thunder, and an appearance of change in the weather.

Wednesday, 2. It rained and blew hard the latter part of the night. At half past five the rain subsided, when we made a traverse of twelve miles, and took in a good deal of water. At twelve it became calm, when I had an observation, which gave 61. 36. North latitude. At three in the afternoon, there was a slight breeze from the Westward which soon increased, when we hoisted sail, and took a traverse of twenty-four miles, for the point of the old Fort, where we arrived at seven, and stopped for the night. This traverse shortened our way three leagues; indeed we did not expect to have cleared the lake in such a short time.

Thursday, 3. It blew with great violence throughout the night, and at four in the morning we embarked, when we did not make more than five miles in three hours, without stopping; notwithstanding we were sheltered from the swell by a long bank. We now entered the small river, where the wind could have no effect upon us. There were frequent showers in the course of the day, and we encamped at six in the evening.

Friday, 4. The morning was dark and cloudy, nevertheless we embarked at five; but at ten it cleared up. We saw a few fowl, and at seven in the evening, went on shore for the night.

Saturday, 5. The weather continued to be cloudy. At five we proceeded, and at eight it began to rain very hard. In about half an hour we put to shore, and were detained for the regaining part of the day.

Sunday, 6. It rained throughout the night, with a strong North wind. Numerous flocks of wild fowl passed to the Southward; at six in the afternoon, the rain, in some measure, subsided, and we embarked, but it soon returned with renewed violence; we, nevertheless took the advantage of an aft wind, though it cost us a complete drenching. The hunters killed seven geese, and we pitched our tents at half past six in the evening.

Monday, 7. We were on the water at five this morning, with a head wind, accompanied by successive showers. At three in the afternoon, we ran the canoe on a stump, and it filled with water before she could be got to land. Two hours were employed in repairing her, and at seven in the evening, we took our station for the night.

Tuesday, 8. We renewed our voyage at half past four in a thick mist which lasted till nine, when it cleared away, sad fine weather succeeded. At three in the afternoon we came to the first carrying-place, Portage des Noyes, and encamped at the upper end of it to dry our clothes, some of which were almost rotten.

Wednesday, 9. We embarked at five in the morning, and our canoe was managed on the men's shoulders, who were bearing it over the carrying-place, called Portage du Chetique. The guide repaired her, however, while the other men were employed in carrying the baggage. The canoe was gummed at the carrying-place named the Portage de la Montagne. After having passed the carrying-places, we encamped at the Dog River, at half past four in the afternoon, in a state of great fatigue. The canoe was again gummed, and paddles were made to replace those that had been broken in ascending the rapids. A swan was the only animal we killed throughout the day.

Thursday, 10. There was rain and violent wind during the night: in the morning the former subsided and the latter increased. At half past five we continued our course with a North-Westerly wind. At seven we hoisted sail: in the forenoon there were frequent showers of rain and hail, and in the afternoon two showers of snow: the wind was at this time very strong, and at six in the evening we lauded at a lodge of Knisteneaux, consisting of three men and five women and children. They were on their return from war, and one of them was very sick: they separated from the rest of their party in the enemy's country, from absolute hunger.

After this separation, they get with a family of the hostile tribe, whom they destroyed. They were entirely ignorant of the fate of their friends, but imagined that they had returned to the Peace River, or had perished for want of food. I gave medicine to the sick,1 and a small portion of ammunition to the healthy; which, indeed, they very much wanted, as they had entirely lived for the last six months on the produce of their bows and arrows. They appeared to have been great sufferers by their expedition.

Friday, 11. It froze hard during the night, and was very cold throughout the day, with an appearance of snow. We embarked at half past four in the morning, and continued our course till six in the evening, when we landed for the night at our encampment of the third of June.

Saturday, 12. The weather was cloudy, and also very cold. At eight, we embarked with a North-East wind, and entered the Lake of the Hills. About ten, the wind veered to the West-ward, and was as strong as we could bear it with the high sail, so that we arrived at Chepewyan fort by three o'clock in the afternoon, where we found Mr. Macleod, with five men busily employed in building a new house. Here, then, we concluded this voyage, which had occupied the considerable space of one hundred and two days.

________________

1 This man had conceived an idea, that the people with whom he had been at war, had thrown medicine at him, which had caused his present complaint, and that he despaired of recovery. The natives are so superstitious, that this idea alone was sufficient to kill him. Of this weakness I took advantage; and assured him, that if he would never more go to war with such poor defenceless people, I would cure him. To this proposition he readily consented, and on my giving him medicine, which consisted of Turlington's balsam, mixed in water, I declared that it would lose its effect, if he was not sincere in the promise that he made me. In short, he actually recovered, was true to his engagements, and on all occasions manifested his gratitude to me.


Book Chapter Logo Click the book image to turn to the next Chapter.