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Title: Voyages from Montreal Through the Continent of North America to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans in 1789 and 1793
       Vol. II

Author: Alexander Mackenzie

Release Date: March 22, 2011 [EBook #35659]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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MACKENZIE'S VOYAGES





A Map of America

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VOYAGES from MONTREAL
THROUGH THE CONTINENT of NORTH AMERICA

TO THE
FROZEN and PACIFIC OCEANS
IN 1789 and 1793

WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE RISE
AND STATE OF THE FUR TRADE

By

ALEXANDER MACKENZIE



WITH MAP

IN TWO VOLUMES

VOL. II.

NEW YORK
A. S. BARNES AND COMPANY
1903





Registered at the
Library of Congress, August, 1902
A. S. BARNES & COMPANY




{iii}

Table of Contents.

CHAPTER I.

Removed from the tent to the house. Build habitations for the people. The hardships they suffer. Violent hurricane. Singular circumstances attending it. The commencement of the new year. An Indian cured of a dangerous wound. State of the weather. Curious customs among the Indians, on the death of a relation. Account of a quarrel. An Indian's reasoning on it. Murder of one of the Indians. The cause of it. Some account of the Rocky Mountain Indians. Curious circumstance respecting a woman in labour, etc. A dispute between two Indians, which arose from gaming. An account of one of their games. Indian superstition. Mildness of the season. The Indians prepare snow shoes. Singular customs. Further account of their manners. The slavish state of the women. Appearance of spring. Dispatch canoes with the trade to Fort Chepewyan. Make preparations for the voyage of discovery. ... 9

CHAPTER II.

Proceed on the voyage of discovery. Beautiful scenery. The canoe too heavily laden. The country in a state of combustion. Meet with a hunting party. State of the river, etc. Meet with Indians. See the tracks of bears, and one of their dens. Sentiment of an Indian. Junction of the Bear River. Appearance of the country. {iv}State of the river. Observe a fall of timber. Abundance of animals. See some bears. Come in sight of the rocky mountains. The canoe receives an injury and is repaired. Navigation dangerous. Rapids and falls. Succession of difficulties and dangers. ... 31

CHAPTER III.

Continuation of difficulties and dangers. Discontents among the people. State of the river and its banks. Volcanic chasms in the earth. Dispatch various persons to discover ways across the mountain. Obstacles present themselves on all sides. Preparations made to attempt the mountain. Account of the ascent with the canoe and baggage. The trees that are found there. Arrive at the river. Extraordinary circumstances of it. Curious hollows in the rocks. Prepare the canoe. Renew our progress up the river. The state of it. Leave some tokens of amity for the natives. The weather very cold. Lost a book of my observations for several days. Continue to proceed up the river. Send a letter down the current in a rum-keg. Came to the forks, and proceed up the Eastern branch. Circumstances of it. ... 58

CHAPTER IV.

Continue our voyage. Heavy fog. The water rises. Succession of courses. Progressive account of this branch. Leave the canoe to proceed, and ascend a hill to reconnoitre. Climb a tree to extend my view of the country. Return to the River. The canoe not arrived. Go in search of it. Extreme heat, musquitoes, etc. Increasing anxiety, respecting the canoe. It at length {v}appears. Violent storm. Circumstances of our progress. Forced to haul the canoe up the stream by the branches of trees. Succession of courses. Wild parsnips along the river. Expect to meet with natives. Courses continued. Fall in with some natives. Our intercourse with them. Account of their dress, arms, utensils, and manners, etc. New discouragements and difficulties present themselves. ... 78

CHAPTER V.

Continue the voyage. State of the river. Succession of courses. Sentiment of the guide. Conical mountain. Continuation of courses. Leave the main branch. Enter another. Description of it. Saw beaver. Enter a lake. Arrive at the upper source of the Unjigah, or Peace River. Land, and cross to a second lake. Local circumstances. Proceed to a third lake. Enter a river. Encounter various difficulties. In danger of being lost. The circumstances of that situation described. Alarm and dissatisfaction among the people. They are at length composed. The canoe repaired. Roads cut through woods. Pass morasses. The guide deserts. After a succession of difficulties, dangers, and toilsome marches, we arrive at the great river. ... 102

CHAPTER VI.

Rainy night. Proceed on the great river. Circumstances of it. Account of courses. Come to rapids. Observe several smokes. See a flight of white ducks. Pass over a carrying-place with the canoe, etc. The difficulties of that passage. Abundance of wild onions. Re-embark on the river. See some of the natives. They desert {vi}their camp and fly into the woods. Courses continued. Kill a red deer, etc. Circumstances of the river. Arrive at an Indian habitation. Description of it. Account of a curious machine to catch fish. Land to procure bark for the purpose of constructing a new canoe. Conceal a quantity of pemmican for provision on our return. Succession of courses. Meet with some of the natives. Our intercourse with them. Their information respecting the river, and the country. Description of those people. ... 127

CHAPTER VII.

Renew our voyage, accompanied by two of the natives. Account of courses. State of the river. Arrive at a subterranean house. See several natives. Brief description of them. Account of our conference with them. Saw other natives. Description of them. Their conduct, etc. The account which they gave of the country. The narrative of a female prisoner. The perplexities of my situation. Specimen of the language of two tribes. Change the plan of my journey. Return up the river. Succession of dangers and difficulties. Land on an island to build another canoe. ... 154

CHAPTER VIII.

Make preparations to build a canoe. Engage in that important work. It proceeds with great expedition. The guide who had deserted arrives with another Indian. He communicates agreeable intelligence. They take an opportunity to quit the island. Complete the canoe. Leave the island, which was now named the Canoe Island. Obliged to put the people on short allowance. Account of the navigation. Difficult ascent of a {vii}rapid. Fresh perplexities. Continue our voyage up the river. Meet the guide and some of his friends. Conceal some pemmican and other articles. Make preparations for proceeding over land. Endeavour to secure the canoe till our return. Proceed on our journey. Various circumstances of it. ... 187

CHAPTER IX.

Continue our journey. Embark on a river. Come to a weir. Dexterity of the natives in passing it. Arrive at a village. Alarm occasioned among the natives. The subsequent favourable reception, accompanied with a banquet of ceremony. Circumstances of it. Description of a village, its houses, and places of devotion. Account of the customs, mode of living, and superstition of the inhabitants. Description of the chief's canoe. Leave the place, and proceed on our voyage. ... 251

CHAPTER X.

Renew our voyage. Circumstances of the river. Land at the house of a chief. Entertained by him. Carried down the river with great rapidity to another house. Received with kindness. Occupations of the inhabitants on its banks. Leave the canoe at a fall. Pass over land to another village. Some account of it. Obtain a view of an arm of the sea. Lose our dog. Procure another canoe. Arrive at the arm of the sea. Circumstances of it. One of our guides returns home. Coast along a bay. Some description of it. Meet with Indians. Our communication with them. Their suspicious conduct towards us. Pass onwards. Determine the latitude and longitude. Return to the river. Dangerous encounter with the Indians. Proceed on our journey. ... 267

{viii}

CHAPTER XI.

Return up the river. Slow progress of the canoe, from the strength of the current. The hostile party of the natives precedes us. Impetuous conduct of my people. Continue our very tedious voyage. Come to some houses; received with great kindness. Arrive at the principal, or Salmon Village. Our present reception very different from that we experienced on our former visit. Continue our journey. Circumstances of it. Find our dog. Arrive at the Upper, or Friendly Village. Meet with a very kind reception. Some further account of the manners and customs of its inhabitants. Brief vocabulary of their language. ... 290

CHAPTER XII.

Leave the Friendly Village. Attentions of the natives at our departure. Stop to divide our provisions. Begin to ascend the mountains. Circumstances of the ascent. Journey continued. Arrive at the place from whence we set out by land. Meet with Indians there. Find the canoe, and all the other articles in a state of perfect security and preservation. Means employed to compel the restoration of articles which were afterwards stolen. Proceed on our homeward bound voyage. Some account of the natives on the river. The canoe is run on a rock, etc. Circumstances of the voyage. Enter the Peace River. Statement of courses. Continue our route. Circumstances of it. Proceed onwards in a small canoe, with an Indian, to the lower fort, leaving the rest of the people to follow me. Arrive at Fort Chepewyan. The voyage concluded. ... 316





{9}

JOURNAL OF A VOYAGE &c.


CHAPTER I.

DECEMBER 23, 1792.

I this day removed from the tent into the house which had been erected for me, and set all the men to begin the buildings intended for their own habitation. Materials sufficient to erect a range of five houses for them, of about seventeen by twelve feet, were already collected. It would be considered by the inhabitants of a milder climate, as a great evil, to be exposed to the weather at this rigorous season of the year, but these people are inured to it, and it is necessary to describe in some measure the hardships which they undergo without a murmur, in order to convey a general notion of them.

The men who were new with me, left this place in the beginning of last May, and went to the Rainy Lake in canoes, laden with packs of fur, which, from the immense length of the voyage, and other concurring circumstances, is a most severe trial of patience and perseverance: there they do not remain a sufficient time for ordinary repose, when they {10}take a load of goods in exchange, and proceed on their return, in a great measure, day and night. They had been arrived near two months, and, all that time, had been continually engaged in very toilsome labour, with nothing more than a common shed to protect them from the frost and snow. Such is the life which these people lead; and is continued with unremitting exertion, till their strength is lost in premature old age.

The Canadians remarked, that the weather we had on the 25th, 26th, and 27th of this month, denoted such as we might expect in the three succeeding months. On the 29th, the wind being at North-East, and the weather calm and cloudy, a rumbling noise was heard in the air like distant thunder, when the sky cleared away in the South-West; from whence there blew a perfect hurricane, which lasted till eight. Soon after it commenced, the atmosphere became so warm that it dissolved all the snow on the ground; even the ice was covered with water, and had the same appearance as when it is breaking up in the spring. From eight to nine the weather became calm, but immediately after a wind arose from the North-East with equal violence, with clouds, rain, and hail, which continued throughout the night till the evening of the next day, when it turned to snow. One of the people who wintered at Fort Dauphin in {11}the year 1780, when the small pox first appeared there, informed me, that the weather there was of a similar description.


  January 1, 1793.—On the first day of January, my people, in conformity to the usual custom, awoke me at the break of day with the discharge of fire-arms, with which they congratulated the appearance of the new year. In return, they were treated with plenty of spirits, and when there is any flour, cakes are always added to their regales, which was the case, on the present occasion.

On my arrival here last fall, I found that one of the young Indians had lost the use of his right hand by the bursting of a gun, and that his thumb had been maimed in such a manner as to hang only by a small strip of flesh. Indeed, when he was brought to me, his wound was in such an offensive state, and emitted such a putrid smell, that it required all the resolution I possessed to examine it. His friends had done every thing in their power to relieve him; but as it consisted only in singing about him, and blowing upon his hand, the wound, as may be well imagined, had got into the deplorable state in which I found it. I was rather alarmed at the difficulty of the case, but as the young man's life was in a state of hazard, I was determined to risk my surgical reputation, and accordingly took him under my care. I immediately {12}formed a poultice of bark, stripped from the roots of the spruce-fir, which I applied to the wound, having first washed it with the juice of the bark: this proved a very painful dressing: in a few days, however, the wound was clean, and the proud flesh around it destroyed. I wished very much in this state of the business to have separated the thumb from the hand, which I well knew must be effected before the cure could be performed; but he would not consent to that operation, till, by the application of vitriol, the flesh by which the thumb was suspended, was shrivelled almost to a thread. When I had succeeded in this object, I perceived that the wound was closing rather faster than I desired. The salve I applied on the occasion was made of the Canadian balsam, wax and tallow dropped from a burning candle into water. In short, I was so successful, that about Christmas my patient engaged in a hunting party, and brought me the tongue of an elk: nor was he finally ungrateful. When he left me I received the warmest acknowledgments, both from himself and his relations with whom he departed, for my care of him. I certainly did not spare my time or attention on the occasion, as I regularly dressed his wound three times a day, during the course of a month.

On the 5th in the morning the weather was calm, clear, and very cold; the wind blew {13}from the South-West, and in the course of the afternoon it began to thaw. I had already observed at Athabasca, that this wind never failed to bring us clear mild weather, whereas, when it blew from the opposite quarter, it produced snow. Here it is much more perceptible, for if it blows hard South-West for four hours, a thaw is the consequence, and if the wind is at North-East it brings sleet and snow. To this cause it may be attributed, that there is now so little snow in this part of the world. These warm winds come off the Pacific Ocean, which cannot, in a direct line, be very far from us; the distance being so short, that though they pass over mountains covered with snow, there is not time for them to cool.

There being several of the natives at the house at this time, one of them, who had received an account of the death of his father, proceeded in silence to his lodge, and began to fire off his gun. As it was night, and such a noise being so uncommon at such an hour, especially when it was so often repeated, I sent my interpreter to inquire into the cause of it, when he was informed by the man himself, that this was a common custom with them on the death of a near relation, and was a warning to their friends not to approach, or intrude upon them, as they were, in consequence of their loss, become careless of life. {14}The chief, to whom the deceased person was also related, appeared with his war-cap on his head, which is only worn on these solemn occasions, or when preparing for battle, and confirmed to me this singular custom of firing guns, in order to express their grief for the death of relations and friends.[1] The women alone indulge in tears on such occasions; the men considering it as a mark of pusillanimity and a want of fortitude to betray any personal tokens of sensibility or sorrow.

The Indians informed me, that they had been to hunt at a large lake, called by the Knisteneaux, the Slave Lake, which derived its name from that of its original inhabitants, who were called Slaves. They represented it as a large body of water, and that it lies about one hundred and twenty miles due East from this place. It is well known to the Knisteneaux, who are among the inhabitants of the plains on the banks of the Saskatchiwine river; for formerly, when they used to come to make war in this country, they came in their canoes to that lake, and left them {15}there; from thence, there is a beaten path all the way to the Fork, or East branch of this river, which was their war-road.


  January 10.—Among the people who were now here, there were two Rocky Mountain Indians, who declared, that the people to whom we had given that denomination, are by no means entitled to it, and that their country has ever been in the vicinity of our present situation. They said, in support of their assertion, that these people were entirely ignorant of those parts which are adjacent to the mountain, as well as the navigation of the river; that the Beaver Indians had greatly encroached upon them, and would soon force them to retire to the foot of these mountains. They represented themselves as the only real natives of that country then with me; and added, that the country, and that part of the river that intervenes between this place and the mountains, bear much the same appearance as that around us; that the former abounds with animals, but that the course of the latter is interrupted, near, and in the mountains, by successive rapids and considerable falls. These men also informed me, that there is another great river towards the midday sun, whose current runs in that direction, and that the distance from it is not great across the mountains.

The natives brought me plenty of furs. {16}The small quantity of snow, at this time, was particularly favourable for hunting the beaver, as from this circumstance, those animals could, with greater facility, be traced from their lodges to their lurking-places.

On the 12th our hunter arrived, having left his mother-in-law, who was lately become a widow with three small children, and in actual labour of a fourth. Her daughter related this circumstance to the women here without the least appearance of concern, though she represented her as in a state of great danger, which probably might proceed from her being abandoned in this unnatural manner. At the same time without any apparent consciousness of her own barbarous negligence, if the poor abandoned woman should die, she would most probably lament her with great outcries, and, perhaps cut off one or two joints of her fingers as tokens of her grief. The Indians, indeed, consider the state of a woman in labour as among the most trifling occurrences of corporal pain to which human nature is subject, and they may be, in some measure justified in this apparent insensibility from the circumstances of that situation among themselves. It is by no means uncommon in the hasty removal of their camps from one position to another, for a woman to be taken in labour, to deliver herself in her way, without any assistance or {17}notice from her associates in her journey, and to overtake them before they complete the arrangements of their evening station, with her new-born babe on her back.

I was this morning threatened with a very unpleasant event, which, however, I was fortunately able to control. Two young Indians being engaged in one of their games, a dispute ensued, which rose to such a height, that they drew their knives, and if I had not happened to have appeared, they would I doubt not, have employed them to very bloody purposes. So violent was their rage, that after I had turned them both out of the house, and severely reprimanded them, they stood in the fort for at least half an hour, looking at each other with a most vindictive aspect, and in sullen silence.

The game which produced this state of bitter enmity, is called that of the Platter, from a principal article of it. The Indians play at it in the following manner.

The instruments of it consist of a platter, or dish, made of wood or bark, and six round or square but flat pieces of metal, wood, or stone, whose sides or surfaces are of different colours. These are put into the dish, and after being for some time shaken together, are thrown into the air, and received again into the dish with considerable dexterity; when, by the number that are turned up of the same {18}mark or colour, the game is regulated. If there should be equal numbers, the throw is not reckoned; if two or four, the platter changes hands.

On the 13th, one of these people came to me, and presented in himself a curious example of Indian superstition. He requested me to furnish him with a remedy that might be applied to the joints of his legs and thighs, of which he had, in a great measure lost the use for five winters. This affliction he attributed to his cruelty about that time, when having found a wolf with two whelps in an old beaver lodge, he set fire to it and consumed them.

The winter had been so mild, that the swans had but lately left us, and at this advanced period there was very little snow on the ground: it was, however, at this time a foot and a half in depth, in the environs of the establishment below this, which is at the distance of about seventy leagues.

On the 28th the Indians were now employed in making their snow-shoes, as the snow had not hitherto fallen in sufficient quantity to render them necessary.


  February 2.—The weather now became very cold, and it froze so hard in the night that my watch stopped; a circumstance that had never happened to this watch since my residence in the country.

{19}There was a lodge of Indians here, who were absolutely starving with cold and hunger. They had lately lost a near relation, and had according to custom, thrown away every thing belonging to them, and even exchanged the few articles of raiment which they possessed, in order, as I presume, to get rid of every thing that may bring the deceased to their remembrance. They also destroy every thing belonging to any deceased person, except what they consign to the grave with the late owner of them. We had some difficulty to make them comprehend that the debts of a man who dies should be discharged, if he left any furs behind him: but those who understand this principle of justice, and profess to adhere it, never fail to prevent the appearance of any skins beyond such as may be necessary to satisfy the debts of their dead relation.

On the 8th I had an observation for the longitude. In the course of this day one of my men, who had been some time with the Indians, came to inform me that one of them had threatened to stab him; and on his preferring a complaint to the man with whom he now lived, and to whom I had given him in charge, he replied, that he had been very imprudent to play and quarrel with the young Indians out of his lodge, where no one would dare to come and quarrel with him; but that {20}if he had lost his life where he had been, it would have been the consequence of his own folly. Thus, even among these children of nature, it appears that a man's house is his castle, where the protection of hospitality is rigidly maintained.

The hard frost which had prevailed from the beginning of February continued to the 16th of March, when the wind blowing from the South-West, the weather became mild.

On the 22d a wolf was so bold as to venture among the Indian lodges, and was very near carrying off a child.

I had another observation of Jupiter and his satellites for the longitude. On the 13th some geese were seen, and these birds are always considered as the harbingers of spring. On the first of April my hunters shot five of them. This was a much earlier period than I ever remember to have observed the visits of wild fowl in this part of the world. The weather had been mild for the last fortnight, and there was a promise of its continuance. On the 5th the snow had entirely disappeared.

At half past four this morning I was awakened to be informed that an Indian had been killed. I accordingly hastened to the camp, where I found two women employed in rolling up the dead body of a man, called the White Partridge, in a beaver robe, which I had lent him. He had received four mortal {21}wounds from a dagger, two within the collar bone, one in the left breast, and another in the small of the back, with two cuts across his head. The murderer, who had been my hunter throughout the winter, had fled; and it was pretended that several relations of the deceased were gone in pursuit of him. The history of this unfortunate event is as follows:—

These two men had been comrades for four years; the murderer had three wives; and the young man who was killed, becoming enamoured of one of them, the husband consented to yield her to him, with the reserved power of claiming her as his property, when it should be his pleasure.

This connection was uninterrupted for near three years, when, whimsical as it may appear, the husband became jealous, and the public amour was suspended. The parties, how ever, made their private assignations, which caused the woman to be so ill treated by her husband, that the paramour was determined to take her away by force; and this project ended in his death. This is a very common practice among the Indians, and generally terminates in very serious and fatal quarrels.

In consequence of this event all the Indians went away in great apparent hurry and confusion, and in the evening not one of them was to be seen about the fort.

{22}The Beaver and Rocky Mountain Indians, who traded with us in this river, did not exceed an hundred and fifty men, capable of bearing arms; two thirds of whom call themselves Beaver Indians. The latter differ only from the former, as they have, more or less, imbibed the customs and manners of the Knisteneaux. As I have already observed, they are passionately fond of liquor, and in the moments of their festivity will barter any thing they have in their possession for it.

Though the Beaver Indians made their peace with the Knisteneaux, at Peace Point, as already mentioned, yet they did not secure a state of amity from others of the same nation, who had driven away the natives of the Saskatchiwine and Missinipy Rivers, and joined at the head water of the latter, called the Beaver River: from thence they proceeded West by the Slave Lake just described, on their war excursions, which they often repeated, even till the Beaver Indians had procured arms, which was in the year 1782. If it so happened that they missed them, they proceeded Westward till they were certain of wreaking their vengeance on those of the Rocky Mountain, who being without arms, became an easy prey to their blind and savage fury. All the European articles they possessed, previous to the year 1780, were obtained from the Knisteneaux and Chepewyans, {23}who brought them from Fort Churchill, and for which they were made to pay an extravagant price.

As late as the year 1786, when the first traders from Canada arrived on the banks of this river, the natives employed bows and snares, but at present very little use is made of the former, and the latter are no longer known. They still entertain a great dread of their natural enemies, but they are since become so well armed, that the others now call them their allies. The men are in general of a comely appearance, and fond of personal decoration. The women are of a contrary disposition, and the slaves of the men: in common with all the Indian tribes polygamy is allowed among them. They are very subject to jealousy, and fatal consequences frequently result from the indulgence of that passion. But notwithstanding the vigilance and severity which is exercised by the husband, it seldom happens that a woman is without her favourite, who, in the absence of the husband, exacts the same submission, and practises the same tyranny. And so premature is the tender passion, that it is sometimes known to invigorate so early a period of life as the age of eleven or twelve years. The women are not very prolific: a circumstance which may be attributed in a great measure, to the hardships that they suffer for except a few small {24}dogs, they alone perform that labour which is allotted to beasts of burthen in other countries. It is not uncommon, while the men carry nothing but a gun, that their wives and daughters follow with such weighty burdens, that if they lay them down they cannot replace them, and that is a kindness which the men will not deign to perform; so that during their journeys they are frequently obliged to lean against a tree for a small portion of temporary relief. When they arrive at the place which their tyrants have chosen for their encampment, they arrange the whole in a few minutes, by forming a curve of poles, meeting at the top, and expanding into circles of twelve or fifteen feet diameter at the bottom, covered with dressed skins of the moose sewed together. During these preparations, the men sit down quietly to the enjoyment of their pipes, if they happen to have any tobacco. But notwithstanding this abject state of slavery and submission, the women have a considerable influence on the opinion of the men in every thing except their own domestic situation.

These Indians are excellent hunters, and their exercise in that capacity is so violent as to reduce them in general to a very meagre appearance. Their religion is of a very contracted nature, and I never witnessed any ceremony of devotion which they had not {25}borrowed from the Knisteneaux, their feasts and fasts being in imitation of that people. They are more vicious and warlike than the Chepewyans, from whence they sprang, though they do not possess their selfishness, for while they have the means of purchasing their necessaries, they are liberal and generous, but when those are exhausted they become errant beggars: they are, however, remarkable for their honesty, for in the whole tribe there were only two women and a man who had been known to have swerved from that virtue, and they were considered as objects of disregard and reprobation. They are afflicted with but few diseases, and their only remedies consist in binding the temples, procuring perspiration, singing, and blowing on the sick person, or affected part. When death overtakes any of them, their property, as I have before observed, is sacrificed and destroyed; nor is there any failure of lamentation or mourning on such occasion: they who are more nearly related to the departed person, black their faces, and sometimes cut off their hair; they also pierce their arms with knives and arrows. The grief of the females is carried to a still greater excess; they not only cut their hair, and cry and howl, but they will sometimes, with the utmost deliberation, employ some sharp instrument to separate the nail from the finger, and {26}then force back the flesh beyond the first joint, which they immediately amputate. But this extraordinary mark of affliction is only displayed on the death of a favourite son, a husband, or a father. Many of the old women have so often repeated this ceremony, that they have not a complete finger remaining on either hand. The women renew their lamentations at the graves of their departed relatives, for a long succession of years. They appear, in common with all the Indian tribes, to be very fond of their children, but they are as careless in their mode of swadling them in their infant state, as they are of their own dress: the child is laid down on aboard, of about two feet long, covered with a bed of moss, to which it is fastened by bandages, the moss being changed as often as the occasion requires. The chief of the nation had no less than nine wives, and children in proportion.

When traders first appeared among these people, the Canadians were treated with the utmost hospitality and attention; but they have, by their subsequent conduct, taught the natives to withdraw that respect from them, and sometimes to treat them with indignity. They differ very much from the Chepewyans and Knisteneaux, in the abhorrence they profess of any carnal communication between their women and the white people. They {27}carry their love of gaming to excess; they will pursue it for a succession of days and nights, and no apprehension of ruin, nor influence of domestic affection, will restrain them from the indulgence of it. They are a quick, lively, active people, with a keen, penetrating, dark eye; and though they are very susceptible of anger, are as easily appeased. The males eradicate their beards, and the females their hair in every part, except their heads, where it is strong and black, and without a curl. There are many old men among them, but they are in general ignorant of the space in which they have been inhabitants of the earth, though one of them told me that he recollected sixty winters.

An Indian in some measure explained his age to me, by relating that he remembered the opposite hills and plains, now interspersed with groves of poplars, when they were covered with moss, and without any animal inhabitant but the rein-deer. By degrees, he said, the face of the country changed to its present appearance, when the elk came from the East, and was followed by the buffalo; the rein-deer then retired to the long range of high lands that, at a considerable distance, run parallel, with this river.

On the 20th of April I had an observation of Jupiter and his satellites, for the {28}longitude, and we were now visited by our summer companions the gnats and musquitoes. On the other side of the river, which was yet covered with ice, the plains were delightful; the trees were budding, and many plants in blossom. Mr. Mackay brought me a bunch of flowers of a pink colour, and a yellow button, encircled with six leaves of a light purple. The change in the appearance of nature was as sudden as it was pleasing, for a few days only were passed away since the ground was covered with snow. On the 25th the river was cleared of the ice.

I new found that the death of the man called the White Partridge, had deranged all the plans which I had settled with the Indians for the spring hunting. They had assembled at some distance from the fort, and sent an embassy to me, to demand rum to drink, that they might have an opportunity of crying for their deceased brother. It would be considered as an extreme degradation in an Indian to weep when sober, but a state of intoxication sanctions all irregularities. On my refusal, they threatened to go to war, which, from motives of interest as well as humanity, we did our utmost to discourage; and as a second message was brought by persons of some weight among these people, and on whom I could depend, I thought it prudent to comply with the demand, on an {29}express condition, that they would continue peaceably at home.

The month of April being now past, in the early part of which I was most busily employed in trading with the Indians, I ordered our old canoes to be repaired with bark, and added four new ones to them, when, with the furs and provisions I had purchased, six canoes were loaded and dispatched on the 8th of May, for Fort Chepewyan. I had, however, retained six of the men, who agreed to accompany me on my projected voyage of discovery. I also engaged my hunters, and closed the business of the year for the company by writing my public and private dispatches.

Having ascertained, by various observations, the latitude of this place to be 56. 9. North, and longitude 117. 35. 15. West: on the 9th day of May, I found, that my achrometer was one hour forty-six minutes slow to apparent time; the mean going of it I had found to be twenty-two seconds slow in twenty-four hours. Having settled this point, the canoe was put into the water; her dimensions were twenty-five feet long within, exclusive of the curves of stem and stern, twenty-six inches hold, and four feet nine inches beam. At the same time she was so light, that two men could carry her on a good road three or four miles without resting. In {30}this slender vessel, we shipped provisions, goods for presents, arms, ammunition, and baggage, to the weight of three thousand pounds, and an equipage of ten people; viz. Alexander Mackay, Joseph Landry, Charles Ducette,[2] Francois Beaulieux, Baptist Bisson, Francois Courtois, and Jaques Beauchamp, with two Indians, as hunters and interpreters. One of them, when a boy, used to be so idle, that he obtained the reputable name of Cancre, which he still possesses. With these persons I embarked at seven in the evening. My winter interpreter, with another person, whom I left here to take care of the fort, and supply the natives with ammunition during the summer, shed tears on the reflection of those dangers which we might encounter in our expedition, while my own people offered up their prayers that we might return in safety from it.

[1] When they are drinking together, they frequently present their guns to each other, when any of the parties have not other means of procuring rum. On such an occasion they always discharge their pieces, as a proof, I imagine, of their being in good order, and to determine the quantity of liquor they may propose to get in exchange for them.

[2]Joseph Landry and Charles Ducette were with me in my former voyage.




{31}

CHAPTER II.

MAY, 1793.

  Thursday, 9.—We began our voyage with a course South by West against a strong current one mile and three quarters, South-West by South one mile, and landed before eight on an island for the night.


  Friday, 10.—The weather was clear and pleasant, though there was a keenness in the air; and at a quarter past three in the morning we continued our voyage, steering South-West three quarters of a mile, South-West by South one mile and a quarter, South three quarters of a mile, South-West by South one quarter of a mile, South-West by West one mile, South-West by South three miles, South by West three quarters of a mile, and South-West one mile. The canoe being strained from its having been very heavily laden, became so leaky, that we were obliged to land, unload, and gum it. As this circumstance took place about twelve, I had an opportunity of taking an altitude, which made our latitude 55. 58. 48.

When the canoe was repaired we continued our course, steering South-West by West one mile and an half, when I had the misfortune {32}to drop my pocket-compass into the water; West half a mile, West-South-West four miles and an half. Here, the banks are steep and hilly, and in some parts undermined by the river. Where the earth has given way, the face of the cliffs discovers numerous strata, consisting of reddish earth and small stones, bitumen, and a greyish earth, below which, near the water-edge, is a red stone. Water issues from most of the banks, and the ground on which it spreads is covered with a thin white scurf, or particles of a saline substance: there are several of these salt springs. At half past six in the afternoon the young men landed, when they killed an elk and wounded a buffalo. In this spot we formed our encampment for the night.

From the place which we quitted this morning, the West side of the river displayed a succession of the most beautiful scenery I had ever beheld. The ground rises at intervals to a considerable height, and stretching inwards to a considerable distance: at every interval or pause in the rise, there is a very gently-ascending space or lawn, which is alternate with abrupt precipices to the summit of the whole, or, at least as far as the eye could distinguish. This magnificent theatre of nature has all the decorations which the trees and animals of the country can afford it: groves of poplars in every shape vary the {33}scene; and their intervals are enlivened with vast herds of elks and buffaloes: the former choosing the steeps and uplands, and the latter preferring the plains. At this time the buffaloes were attended with their young ones who were frisking about them: and it appeared that the elks would soon exhibit the same enlivening circumstance. The whole country displayed an exuberant verdure; the trees that bear a blossom were advancing fast to that delightful appearance, and the velvet rind of their branches reflecting the oblique rays of a rising or setting sun, added a splendid gaiety to the scene, which no expressions of mine are qualified to describe. The East side of the river consists of a range of high land covered with the white spruce and the soft birch, while the banks abound with the alder and the willow. The water continued to rise, and the current being proportionately strong, we made a greater use of setting poles than paddles.


  Saturday, 11.—The weather was overcast. With a strong wind a-head, we embarked at four in the morning, and left all the fresh meat behind us, but the portion which had been assigned to the kettle; the canoe being already too heavily laden. Our course was West-South-West one mile, where a small river flowed in from the East, named Quiscatina Sepy, or River with the High Banks; {34}West half a mile, South half a mile, South-West by West three quarters of a mile, West one mile and a quarter, South-West a quarter of a mile, South-South-West half a mile, and West by South a mile and a half. Here I took a meridian altitude, which gave 55. 56. 3. North latitude. We then proceeded West three miles and a half, West-South-West, where the whole plain was on fire, one mile, West one mile, and the wind so strong a-head, that it occasioned the canoe to take in water, and otherwise impeded our progress. Here we landed to take time, with the mean of three altitudes, which made the watch slow 1. 42. 10.

We now proceeded West-South-West one mile and a quarter, where we found a chief of the Beaver Indians on a hunting party. I remained, however, in my canoe, and though it was getting late, I did not choose to encamp with these people, lest the friends of my hunters might discourage them from proceeding on the voyage. We, therefore, continued our course, but several Indians kept company with us, running along the bank, and conversing with my people, who were so attentive to them, that they drove the canoe on a stony flat, so that we were under the necessity of landing to repair the damages, and put up for the night, though very contrary to my wishes. My hunters obtained permission {35}to proceed with some of these people to their lodges, on the promise of being back by the break of day; though I was not without some apprehension respecting them. The chief, however, and another man, as well as several people from the lodges, joined us, before we had completed the repair of the canoe; and they made out a melancholy story, that they had neither ammunition or tobacco sufficient for their necessary supply during the summer. I accordingly referred him to the Fort, where plenty of those articles were left in the care of my interpreter, by whom they would be abundantly furnished, if they were active and industrious in pursuing their occupations. I did not fail, on this occasion, to magnify the advantages of the present expedition; observing, at the same time, that its success would depend on the fidelity and conduct of the young men who were retained by me to hunt. The chief also proposed to borrow my canoe, in order to transport himself and family across the river; several plausible reasons, it is true, suggested themselves for resisting his proposition; but when I stated to him, that, as the canoe was intended for a voyage of such consequence, no woman could be permitted to be embarked in it, he acquiesced in the refusal. It was near twelve at night when he took his leave, after I had gratified him with a present of tobacco.


{36}  Sunday, 12.—Some of the Indians passed the night with us, and I was informed by them, that according to our mode of proceeding, we should, in ten days, get as far as the rocky mountains. The young men now returned, to my great satisfaction, and with the appearance of contentment; though I was not pleased when they dressed themselves in the clothes which I had given them before we left the Fort, as it betrayed some latent design.

At four in the morning we proceeded on our voyage, steering West three miles, including one of our course yesterday, North-West by North four miles, West two miles and a half, North-West by West a mile and a half, North by East two miles, North-West by West one mile, and North-North-West three miles. After a continuation of our course to the North for a mile and a half, we landed for the night on an island where several of the Indians visited us, but unattended by their women, who remained in their camp, which was at some distance from us.

The land on both sides of the river, during the two last days, is very much elevated, but particularly in the latter part of it, and, on the Western side, presents in different places, white, steep, and lofty cliffs. Our view being confined by these circumstances, we did not see so many animals as on the 10th. Between these lofty boundaries, the river becomes {37}narrow and in a great measure free from islands; for we had passed only four: the stream, indeed, was not more than from two hundred to three hundred yards broad; whereas before these cliffs pressed upon it, its breadth was twice that extent and besprinkled with islands. We killed an elk, and fired several shots at animals from the canoe.

The greater part of this band being Rocky Mountain Indians, I endeavoured to obtain some intelligence of our intended route, but they all pleaded ignorance, and uniformly declared, that they knew nothing of the country beyond the first mountain: at the same time they were of opinion, that, from the strength of the current and the rapids we should not get there by water; though they did not hesitate to express their surprise at the expedition we had already made.

I inquired, with some anxiety, after an old man who had already given me an account of the country beyond the limits of his tribe, and was very much disappointed at being informed, that he had not been seen for upwards of a moon. This man had been at war on another large river beyond the Rocky Mountain, and described to me a fork of it between the mountains; the Southern branch of which he directed me to take; from thence, he said, there was a carrying-place of about a day's march for a young man to get to the {38}river. To prove the truth of his relation, he consented, that his son, who had been with him in those parts, should accompany me; and he accordingly sent him to the fort some days before my departure; but the preceding night he deserted with another young man, whose application to attend me as a hunter, being refused, he persuaded the other to leave me. I now thought it right to repeat to them what I had said to the chief of the first band, respecting the advantages which would be derived from the voyage, that the young men might be encouraged to remain with me; as without them I should not have attempted to proceed.


  Monday, 13.—The first object that presented itself to me this morning was the young man whom I have already mentioned, as having seduced away my intended guide. At any other time or place, I should have chastised him for his past conduct, but in my situation it was necessary to pass over his offence, lest he should endeavour to exercise the same influence over those who were so essential to my service. Of the deserted he gave no satisfactory account, but continued to express his wish to attend me in his place, for which he did not possess any necessary qualifications.

The weather was cloudy, with an appearance of rain; and the Indians pressed me {39}with great earnestness to pass the day with them, and hoped to prolong my stay among them by assuring me that the winter yet lingered in the rocky mountains; but my object was to lose no time, and having given the chief some tobacco for a small quantity of meat, we embarked at four, when my young men could not conceal their chagrin at parting with their friends, for so long a period as the voyage threatened to occupy. When I had assured them that in three moons we should return to them, we proceeded on our course West-North-West half a mile, West-South-West one mile and a half, West by North three miles, North-West by West two miles and a half, South-West by West half a mile, South-South-West a mile and a half, and South-West a mile and a half. Here I had a meridian altitude, which gave 56. 17. 44. North latitude.

The last course continued a mile and a half, South by West, three quarters of a mile, South-West by South three miles and a half, and West-South-West two miles and a half. Here the land lowered on both sides, with an increase of wood, and displayed great numbers of animals. The river also widened from three to five hundred yards, and was full of islands and flats. Having continued our course three miles, we made for the shore at seven, to pass the night.

{40}At the place from whence we proceeded this morning, a river falls in from the North; there are also several islands, and many rivulets on either side, which are too small to deserve particular notice. We perceived along the river, tracks of large bears, some of which were nine inches wide, and of a proportionate length. We saw one of their dens, or winter-quarters, called watee, in an island, which was ten feet deep, five feet high, and six feet wide; but we had not yet seen one of those animals. The Indians entertain great apprehension of this kind of bear, which is called the grisly bear, and they never venture to attack it but in a party of at least three or four. Our hunters, though they had been much higher than this part of our voyage, by land, knew nothing of the river. One of them mentioned, that having been engaged in a war expedition, his party on their return made their canoes at some distance below us. The wind was North throughout the day, and at times blew with considerable violence.

The apprehensions which I had felt respecting the young men were not altogether groundless, for the eldest of them told me that his uncle had last night addressed him in the following manner:—"My nephew, your departure makes my heart painful. The white people may be said to rob us of you. They are about to conduct you into the midst of our {41}enemies, and you may nevermore return to us. Were you not with the Chief,[1] I know not what I should do, but he requires your attendance, and you must follow him."


  Tuesday, 14.—The weather was clear, and the air sharp, when we embarked at half past four. Our course was South by West one mile and a half, South-West by South half a mile, South-West.

We here found it necessary to unload, and gum the canoe, in which operation we lost an hour; when we proceeded on the last course one mile and a half. I now took a meridian altitude, which gave 56. 1. 19. North latitude, and continued to proceed West-South-West two miles and a half. Here the Bear River which is of a large appearance, falls in from the East; West three miles and an half, South-South-West one mile and an half, and South-West four miles and an half, when we encamped upon an island about seven in the evening.

During the early part of the day, the current was not so strong as we had generally found it, but towards the evening it became very rapid, and was broken by numerous islands. We were gratified as usual, with the sight of animals. The land on the West {42}side is very irregular, but has the appearance of being a good beaver country; indeed we saw some of those animals in the river. Wood is in great plenty, and several rivulets added their streams to the main river. A goose was the only article of provision which we procured to-day. Smoke was seen, but at a great distance before us.


  Wednesday, 15.—The rain prevented us from continuing our route till past six in the morning, when our course was South-West by West three quarters of a mile; at which time we passed a river on the left, West by South two miles and a half. The bank was steep, and the current strong. The last course continued one mile and a half, West-South-West two miles, where a river flowed in from the right, West by South one mile and a half, West-North-West one mile, and West by North two miles. Here the land takes the form of an high ridge, and cut our course, which was West for three miles, at right angles. We now completed the voyage of this day.

In the preceding night the water rose upwards of two inches, and had risen in this proportion since our departure. The wind, which was West-South-West, blew very hard throughout the day, and with the strength of the current, greatly impeded our progress. The river, in this part of it, is full of islands; {43}and the land, on the South or left side, is thick with wood. Several rivulets also fall in from that quarter. At the entrance of the last river which we passed, there was a quantity of wood, which had been cut down by axes, and some by the beaver. This fall, however, was not made, in the opinion of my people, by any of the Indians with whom we were acquainted.

The land to the right is of a very irregular elevation and appearance, composed in some places of clay, and rocky cliffs, and others exhibiting stratas of red, green, and yellow colours. Some parts, indeed, offer a beautiful scenery, in some degree similar to that which we passed on the second day of our voyage, and equally enlivened with the elk and the buffalo, who were feeding in great numbers, and unmolested by the hunter. In an island which we passed, there was a large quantity of white birch, whose bark might be employed in the construction of canoes.


  Thursday, 16.—The weather being clear, we re-embarked at four in the morning, and proceeded West by North three miles. Here the land again appeared as if it run across our course, and a considerable river discharged itself by various streams. According to the Rocky Mountain Indian, it is called the Sinew River. This spot would be an excellent situation for a fort or factory, as there is plenty {44}of wood, and every reason to believe that the country abounds in beaver. As for the other animals, they are in evident abundance, as in every direction the elk and the buffalo are seen in possession of the hills and the plains. Our course continued West-North-West three miles and a half, North-West one mile and a half, South-West by West two miles; (the latitude was by observation 56. 16. 54.) North, West by North half a mile, West-North-West three quarters of a mile; a small river appearing on the right, North-West one mile and a half, West by North half a mile, West by South one mile and a half, West one mile; and at seven we formed our encampment.

Mr. Mackay, and one of the young men, killed two elks, and mortally wounded a buffalo, but we only took a part of the flesh of the former. The land above the spot where we encamped, spreads into an extensive plain, and stretches on to a very high ridge, which, in some parts, presents a face of rock, but is principally covered with verdure, and varied with the poplar and white birch tree. The country is so crowded with animals as to have the appearance, in some places, of a stall-yard, from the state of the ground, and the quantity of dung which is scattered over it. The soil is black and light. We this day saw two grisly and hideous bears.


{45}  Friday, 17.—It froze during the night, and the air was sharp in the morning, when we continued our course West-North-West three miles and a half, South-West by South two miles and a half, South-West by West one mile and a half, West three quarters of a mile, West-South-West one mile and a quarter, and South-West by South one mile and a half. At two in the afternoon the rocky mountains appeared in sight, with their summits covered with snow, bearing South-West by South: they formed a very agreeable object to every person in the canoe, as we attained the view of them much sooner than we expected. A small river was seen on our right, and we continued our progress South-West by South six miles, when we landed at seven, which was our usual hour of encampment.

Mr. Mackay, who was walking along the side of the river, discharged his piece at a buffalo, when it burst near the muzzle, but without any mischievous consequences. On the high grounds, which were on the opposite side of the river, we saw a buffalo tearing up and down with great fury, but could not discern the cause of his impetuous motions; my hunters conjectured that he had been wounded with on arrow by some of the natives. We ascended several rapids in the course of the day, and saw one bear.


{46}  Saturday, 18.—It again froze very hard during the night, and at four in the morning we continued our voyage, but we had not proceeded two hundred yards, before an accident happened to the canoe, which did not, however, employ more than three quarters of an hour to complete the repair. We then steered South by West one mile and three quarters, South-West by South three miles, South-West by West one mile and a quarter, West by South three quarters of a mile, South-West half a mile, West by South one mile, South by West one mile and a half, South-South-West, where there is a small run of water from the right, three miles and a half, when the canoe struck on the stump of a tree, and unfortunately where the banks were so steep that there was no place to unload, except a small spot, on which we contrived to dispose the lading in the bow, which lightened the canoe so as to raise the broken part of it above the surface of the water; by which contrivance we reached a convenient situation. It required, however, two hours to complete the repair, when the weather became dark and cloudy, with thunder, lightning, and rain; we, however, continued the last course half a mile, and at six in the evening we were compelled by the rain to land for the night.

About noon we had landed on an island where there were eight lodges of last year. {47}The natives had prepared bark here for five canoes, and there is a road along the hills where they had passed. Branches were out and broken along it; and they had also stripped off the bark of the trees, to get the interior rind, which forms part of their food.

The current was very strong through the whole of the day, and the coming up along some of the banks was rendered very dangerous, from the continual falling of large stones, from the upper parts of them. This place appears to be a particular pass for animals across the river, as there are paths leading to it on both sides, every ten yards.

In the course of the day we saw a ground hog, and two cormorants. The earth also appeared in several places to have been turned up by the bears, in search of roots.


  Sunday, 19.—It rained very hard in the early part of the night, but the weather became clear towards the morning, when we embarked at our usual hour. As the current threatened to be very strong, Mr. Mackay, the two hunters, and myself, went on shore, in order to lighten the canoe, and ascended the hills, which are covered with cypress, and but little encumbered with underwood. We found a beaten path, and before we had walked a mile, fell in with a herd of buffaloes, with their young ones: but I would {48}not suffer the Indians to fire on them, from an apprehension that the report of their fowling pieces would alarm the natives that might be in the neighbourhood; for we were at this time so near the mountains, as to justify our expectation of seeing some of them. We, however, sent our dog after the herd, and a calf was soon secured by him. While the young men were skinning the animal, we heard two reports of fire arms from the canoe, which we answered, as it was a signal for my return; we then heard another, and immediately hastened down the hill, with our veal, through a very close wood. There we met one of the men, who informed us that the canoe was at a small distance below, at the foot of a very strong rapid, and that as several waterfalls appeared up the river, we should be obliged to unload and carry. I accordingly hastened to the canoe, and was greatly displeased that so much time had been lost, as I had given previous directions that the river should be followed as long as it was practicable. The last Indians whom we saw had informed us that at the first mountain there was a considerable succession of rapids, cascades, and falls, which they never attempted to ascend; and where they always passed over land the length of a day's march. My men imagined that the carrying place was at a small distance below us, as a path {49}appeared to ascend a hill, where there were several lodges, of the last year's construction. The account which had been given me of the rapids, was perfectly correct: though by crossing to the other side, I must acknowledge with some risk, in such a heavy laden canoe, the river appeared to me to be practicable, as far as we could see: the traverse, therefore, was attempted, and proved successful. We now towed the canoe along an island, and proceeded without any considerable difficulty, till we reached the extremity of it, when the line could be no longer employed; and in endeavouring to clear the point of the island, the canoe was driven with such violence on a stony shore, as to receive considerable injury. We now employed every exertion in our power to repair the breach that had been made, as well as to dry such articles of our loading as more immediately required it: we then transported the whole across the point, when we reloaded, and continued our course about three quarters of a mile. We could now proceed no further on this side of the water, and the traverse was rendered extremely dangerous, not only from the strength of the current, but by the cascades just below us, which, if we had got among them, would have involved us and the canoe in one common destruction. We had no other alternative than to return by the same course we came, or to {50}hazard the traverse, the river on this side being bounded by a range of steep, over-hanging rocks, beneath which the current was driven on with resistless impetuosity from the cascades. Here are several islands of solid rock, covered with a small portion of verdure, which have been worn away by the constant force of the current, and occasionally, as I presume, of ice, at the water's edge, so as to be reduced in that part to one fourth the extent of the upper surface; presenting, as it were, so many large tables, each of which was supported by a pedestal of a more circumscribed projection. They are very elevated for such a situation, and afford an asylum for geese, which were at this time breeding on them. By crossing from one to the other of these islands, we came at length to the main traverse, on which we ventured, and were successful in our passage. Mr. Mackay, and the Indians, who observed our manoeuvres from the top of a rock, were in continual alarm for our safety, with which their own, indeed, may be said to have been nearly connected: however, the dangers that we encountered were very much augmented by the heavy loading of the canoe.

When we had effected our passage, the current on the West side was almost equally violent with that from whence we had just escaped, but the craggy bank being somewhat {51}lower, we were enabled, with a line of sixty fathoms, to tow the canoe, till we came to the foot of the most rapid cascade we had hitherto seen. Here we unloaded, and carried every thing over a rocky point of an hundred and twenty paces. When the canoe was reloaded, I, with those of my people who were not immediately employed, ascended the bank, which was there, and indeed, as far as we could see, composed of clay, stone, and a yellow gravel. My present situation was so elevated, that the men, who were coming up a strong point, could not hear me, though I called to them with the utmost strength of my voice, to lighten the canoe of part of its lading. And here I could not but reflect, with infinite anxiety, on the hazard of my enterprize; one false step of those who were attached to the line, or the breaking of the line itself, would have at once consigned the canoe, and every thing it contained, to instant destruction: it, however, ascended the rapid in perfect security, but new dangers immediately presented themselves, for stones, both small and great, were continually rolling from the bank, so as to render the situation of those who were dragging the canoe beneath it extremely perilous; besides, they were at every step in danger, from the steepness of the ground, of falling into the water: nor was my solicitude diminished by my being {52}necessarily removed at times from the sight of them.

In our passage through the woods, we came to an inclosure, which had been formed by the natives for the purpose of setting snares for the elk, and of which we could not discover the extent. After we had travelled for some hours through the forest, which consisted of the spruce, birch, and the largest poplars I had ever seen, we sunk down upon the river where the bank is low, and near the foot of a mountain; between which, and a high ridge, the river flows in a channel of about one hundred yards broad; though, at a small distance below, it rushes on between perpendicular rocks, where it is not much more than half that breadth. Here I remained, in great anxiety, expecting the arrival of the canoe, and after some time I sent Mr. Mackay with one of the Indians down the river in search of it, and with the other I went up to it to examine what we might expect in that quarter. In about a mile and a half I came to a part where the river washes the feet of lofty precipices, and presented, in the form of rapids and cascades, a succession of difficulties to our navigation. As the canoe did not come in sight, we returned, and from the place where I had separated with Mr. Mackay, we saw the men carrying it over a small rocky point. We met them at the entrance of the {53}narrow channel already mentioned; their difficulties had been great indeed, and the canoe had been broken, but they had persevered with success, and having passed the carrying-place, we proceeded with the line as far as I had already been, when we crossed over and encamped on the opposite beach; but there was no wood on this side of the water, as the adjacent country had been entirely over-run by fire. We saw several elks feeding on the edge of the opposite precipice, which was upwards of three hundred feet high.

Our course to-day was about South-South-West two miles and a half, South-West half a mile, South-West by South one mile and a half, South by West half a mile, South-West half a mile, and West one mile and a half. There was a shower of hail, and some rain from flying clouds. I now dispatched a man with an Indian to visit the rapids above, when the latter soon left him to pursue a beaver, which was seen in the shallow water on the inside of a stony island; and though Mr. Mackay, and the other Indian joined him, the animal at length escaped from their pursuit. Several others were seen in the course of the day, which I by no means expected, as the banks are almost every where so much elevated above the channel of the river. Just as the obscurity of the night drew on, the {54}man returned with an account that it would be impracticable to pass several points, as well as the super-impending promontories.


  Monday, 20.—The weather was clear with a sharp air, and we renewed our voyage at quarter past four, on a course South-West by West three quarters of a mile. We now, with infinite difficulty passed along the foot of a rock, which, fortunately, was not an hard stone, so that we were enabled to cut steps in it for the distance of twenty feet; from which, at the hazard of my life, I leaped on a small rock below, where I received those who followed me on my shoulders. In this manner four of us passed and dragged up the canoe, in which attempt we broke her. Very luckily, a dry tree had fallen from the rock above us, without which we could not have made a fire, as no wood was to be procured within a mile of the place. When the canoe was repaired, we continued towing it along the rocks to the next point, when we embarked, as we could not at present make any further use of the line, but got along the rocks of a round high island of stone, till we came to a small sandy bay. As we had already damaged the canoe, and had every reason to think that she soon would risk much greater injury, it became necessary for us to supply ourselves with bark, as our provision of that material article was almost exhausted two men were {55}accordingly sent to procure it, who soon returned with the necessary store.

Mr. Mackay, and the Indians who had been on shore, since we broke the canoe, were prevented from coming to us by the rugged and impassable state of the ground. We, therefore, again resumed our course with the assistance of poles, with which we pushed onwards till we came beneath a precipice, where we could not find any bottom; so that we were again obliged to have recourse to the line, the management of which was rendered not only difficult but dangerous, as the men employed in towing were under the necessity of passing on the outside of trees that grew on the edge of the precipice. We, however, surmounted this difficulty, as we had done many others, and the people who had been walking over land now joined us. They also had met with their obstacles in passing the mountain.

It now became necessary for us to make a traverse, where the water was so rapid, that some of the people stripped themselves to their shirts that they might be the better prepared for swimming, in case any accident happened to the canoe, which they seriously apprehended; but we succeeded in our attempt without any other inconvenience, except that of taking in water. We now came to a cascade, when it was thought necessary {56}to take out part of the lading. At noon we stopped to take an altitude, opposite to a small river that flowed in from the left: while I was thus engaged, the men went on shore to fasten the canoe, but as the current was not very strong, they had been negligent in performing this office; it proved, however, sufficiently powerful to sheer her off, and if it had not happened that one of the men, from absolute fatigue had remained and held the end of the line, we should have been deprived of every means of prosecuting our voyage, as well as of present subsistence. But notwithstanding the state of my mind on such an alarming circumstance, and an intervening cloud that interrupted me, the altitude which I took has been since proved to be tolerably correct, and gave 56. North latitude. Our last course was South-South-West two miles and a quarter.

We now continued our toilsome and perilous progress with the line West by North, and as we proceeded the rapidity of the current increased, so that in the distance of two miles we were obliged to unload four times, and carry every thing but the canoe: indeed, in many places, it was with the utmost difficulty that we could prevent her from being dashed to pieces against the rocks by the violence of the eddies. At five we had proceeded to where the river was one continued rapid.

{57}Here we again took every thing out of the canoe, in order to tow her up with the line, though the rocks were so shelving as greatly to increase the toil and hazard of that operation. At length, however, the agitation of the water was so great, that a wave striking on the bow of the canoe broke the line, and filled us with inexpressible dismay, as it appeared impossible that the vessel could escape from being dashed to pieces, and those who were in her from perishing. Another wave, however, more propitious than the former, drove her out of the tumbling water, so that the men were enabled to bring her ashore, and though she had been carried over rocks by these swells which left them naked a moment after, the canoe had received no material injury. The men were, however, in such a state from their late alarm, that it would not only have been unavailing but imprudent to have proposed any further progress at present, particularly as the river above us, as far as we could see, was one white sheet of foaming water.

[1] These people, as well as all the natives on this side of Lake Winipic, give the mercantile agent that distinguished appellation.




{58}

CHAPTER III.

MAY, 1793.

That the discouragements, difficulties, and dangers, which had hitherto attended the progress of our enterprise, should have excited a wish in several of those who were engaged in it to discontinue the pursuit, might be naturally expected; and indeed it began to be muttered on all sides that there was no alternative but to return.

Instead of paying any attention to these murmurs, I desired those who had uttered them to exert themselves in gaining an ascent of the hill, and encamp there for the night. In the mean time I set off with one of the Indians, and though I continued my examination of the river almost as long as there was any light to assist me, I could see no end of the rapids and cascades: I was, therefore, perfectly satisfied, that it would be impracticable to proceed any further by water. We returned from this reconnoitring excursion very much fatigued, with our shoes worn out and wounded feet; when I found that, by felling trees on the declivity of the first hill, my people had contrived to ascend it.

From the place where I had taken the {59}altitude at noon, to the place where we made our landing, the river is not more than fifty yards wide, and flows between stupendous rocks, from whence huge fragments sometimes tumble down, and falling from such an height, dash into small stones, with sharp points, and form the beach between the rocky projections. Along the face of some of these precipices, there appears a stratum of a bitumenous substance which resembles coal; though while some of the pieces of it appeared to be excellent fuel, others resisted, for a considerable time, the action of fire, and did not emit the least flame. The whole of this day's course would have been altogether impracticable, if the water had been higher, which must be the case at certain seasons. We saw also several encampments of the Knisteneaux along the river, which must have been formed by them on their war excursions: a decided proof of the savage, blood-thirsty disposition of that people; as nothing less than such a spirit could impel them to encounter the difficulties of this almost inaccessible country, whose natives are equally unoffending and defenceless.

Mr. Mackay informed me, that in passing over the mountains, he observed several chasms in the earth that emitted heat and smoke, which diffused a strong sulphureous stench. I should certainly have visited this {60}phenomenon, if I had been sufficiently qualified as a naturalist, to have offered scientific conjectures or observations thereon.


  Tuesday, 21.—It rained in the morning, and did not cease till about eight, and as the men had been very fatigued and disheartened, I suffered them to continue their rest till that hour. Such was the state of the river, as I have already observed, that no alternative was left us; nor did any means of proceeding present themselves to us, but the passage of the mountain over which we were to carry the canoe as well as the baggage. As this was a very alarming enterprize, I dispatched Mr. Mackay with three men and the two Indians to proceed in a strait course from the top of the mountain, and to keep the line of the river till they should find it navigable. If it should be their opinion, that there was no practicable passage in that direction, two of them were instructed to return in order to make their report; while the others were to go in search of the Indian carrying-place. While they were engaged in this excursion, the people who remained with me were employed in gumming the canoe, and making handles for the axes. At noon I got an altitude, which made our latitude 56. 0. 8. At three o'clock had time, when my watch was slow 1. 31. 32. apparent time.

At sun-set, Mr. Mackay returned with one {61}of the men, and in about two hours was followed by the others. They had penetrated thick woods, ascended hills and sunk into vallies, till they got beyond the rapid, which, according to their calculation, was a distance of three leagues. The two parties returned by different routes, but they both agreed, that with all its difficulties, and they were of a very alarming nature, the outward course was that which must be preferred. Unpromising, however, as the account of their expedition appeared, it did not sink them into a state of discouragement; and a kettle of wild rice, sweetened with sugar, which had been prepared for their return, with their usual regale of rum, soon renewed that courage which disdained all obstacles that threatened our progress: and they went to rest, with a full determination to surmount them on the morrow. I sat up, in the hope of getting an observation of Jupiter and his first satellite, but the cloudy weather prevented my obtaining it.


  Wednesday, 22.—At break of day we entered on the extraordinary journey which was to occupy the remaining part of it. The men began, without delay, to cut a road up the mountain, and as the trees were but of small growth, I ordered them to fell those which they found convenient, in such a manner, that they might fall parallel with the road, but, at the same time not separate them {62}entirely from the stumps, so that they might form a kind of railing on either side. The baggage was now brought from the water side to our encampment. This was, likewise, from the steep shelving of the rocks, a very perilous undertaking, as one false step of any of the people employed in it, would have been instantly followed by falling headlong into the water. When this important object was attained, the whole of the party proceeded with no small degree of apprehension, to fetch the canoe, which, in a short time, was also brought to the encampment; and, as soon as we had recovered from our fatigue, we advanced with it up the mountain, having the line doubled and fastened successively as we went on to the stumps; while a man at the end of it, hauled it around a tree, holding it on and shifting it as we proceeded; so that we may be said, with strict truth, to have warped the canoe up the mountain; indeed by a general and most laborious exertion, we got every thing to the summit by two in the afternoon. At noon, the latitude was 56. 0. 47. North. At five, I sent the men to cut the road onwards, which they effected for about a mile, when they returned:

The weather was cloudy at intervals, with showers and thunder. At about ten, I observed an emersion of Jupiter's second satellite; time by the achrometer 8. 32. 20. by {63}which I found the longitude to be 120. 29. 80 West from Greenwich.


  Thursday 23.—The weather was clear at four this morning, when the men began to carry. I joined Mr. Mackay and the two Indians in the labour of cutting a road. The ground continued rising gently till noon, when it began to decline; but though on such an elevated situation, we could see but little, as mountains of a still higher elevation, and covered with snow, were seen far above us in every direction. In the afternoon the ground became very uneven; hills and deep defiles alternately presented themselves to us. Our progress, however, exceeded my expectation, and it was not till four in the afternoon that the carriers overtook us. At five, in a state of fatigue that may be more readily conceived than expressed, we encamped near a rivulet or spring that issued from beneath a large mass of ice and snow.

Our toilsome journey of this day I compute at about three miles; along the first of which the land is covered with plenty of wood, consisting of large trees, encumbered with little underwood, through which it was by no means difficult to open a road, by following a well-beaten elk path: for the two succeeding miles we found the country overspread with the trunks of trees, laid low by fire some years {64}ago; among which large copses had sprung up of a close growth, and intermixed with briars, so as to render the passage through them painful and tedious. The soil in the woods is light and of a dusky colour; that in the burned country is a mixture of sand and clay with small stones. The trees are spruce, red-pine, cypress, poplar, white birch, willow, alder, arrow-wood, red-wood, liard, service-tree, bois-picant, &c. I never saw any of the last kind before. It rises to about nine feet in height, grows in joints without branches, and is tufted at the extremity. The stem is of an equal size from the bottom to the top, and does not exceed an inch in diameter; it is covered with small prickles, which caught our trowsers, and working through them, sometimes found their way to the flesh. The shrubs are, the gooseberry, the currant, and several kinds of briars.


  Friday, 24.—We continued our very laborious journey, which led us down some steep hills, and through a wood of tall pines. After much toil and trouble in bearing the canoe through the difficult passages which we encountered, at four in the afternoon we arrived at the river, some hundred yards above the rapids or falls, with all our baggage. I compute the distance of this day's progress to be about four miles; indeed I should have measured the whole of the way, {65}if I had not been obliged to engage personally in the labour of making the road. But after all, the Indian carrying-way, whatever may be its length, and I think it cannot exceed ten miles, will always be found more safe and expeditious than the passage which our toil and perseverance formed and surmounted.

Those of my people who visited this place on the 21st, were of opinion that the water had risen very much since that time. About two hundred yards below us, the stream rushed with an astonishing but silent velocity, between perpendicular rocks, which are not more than thirty-five yards asunder: when the water is high, it runs over those rocks, in a channel three times that breadth, where it is bounded by far more elevated precipices. In the former are deep round holes, some of which are full of water, while others are empty, in whose bottom are small round stones, as smooth as marble. Some of these natural cylinders would contain two hundred gallons. At a small distance below the first of these rocks, the channel widens in a kind of zig-zag progression; and it was really awful to behold with what infinite force the water drives against the rocks on one side, and with what impetuous strength it is repelled to the other: it then falls back, as it were, into a more strait but rugged passage, over which it is tossed in high, foaming, {66}half-formed billows, as far as the eye could follow it.

The young men informed me that this was the place where their relations had told me that I should meet with a fall equal to that of Niagara: to exculpate them, however, from their apparent misinformation, they declared that their friends were not accustomed to utter falsehoods, and that the fall had probably been destroyed by the force of the water. It is, however, very evident that those people had not been here, or did not adhere to the truth. By the number of trees which appeared to have been felled with axes, we discovered that the Knisteneaux, or some tribes who are known to employ that instrument, had passed this way. We passed through a snare enclosure, but saw no animals, though the country was very much intersected by their tracks.


  Saturday, 25.—It rained throughout the night, and till twelve this day; while the business of preparing great and small poles, and putting the canoe in order, &c. caused us to remain here till five in the afternoon. I now attached a knife, with a steel, flint, beads, and other trifling articles to a pole, which I erected, and left as a token of amity to the natives. When I was making this arrangement, one of my attendants, whom I have already described under the title of the {67}Cancre, added to my assortment, a small round piece of green wood, chewed at one end in the form of a brush, which the Indians used to pick the marrow out of bones. This he informed me was an emblem of a country abounding in animals. The water had risen during our stay here one foot and a half perpendicular height.

We now embarked, and our course was North-West one mile and three quarters. There were mountains on all sides of us, which were covered with snow; one in particular, on the South side of the river, rose to a great height. We continued to proceed West three quarters of a mile, North-West one mile, and West-South-West a quarter of a mile, when we encamped for the night. The Cancre killed a small elk.


  Sunday, 26.—The weather was clear and sharp, and between three and four in the morning we renewed our voyage, our first course being West by South three miles and a half, when the men complained of the cold in their fingers, as they were obliged to push on the canoe with the poles. Here a small river flowed in from the North. We now continued to steer West-South-West a quarter of a mile; West-North-West a mile and a half, and West two miles, when we found ourselves on a parallel with a chain of mountains on both sides of the river, running South {68}and North. The river, both yesterday and the early part of to-day, was from four to eight hundred yards wide, and full of islands, but was at this time diminished to about two hundred yards broad, and free from islands, with a smooth but strong current. Our next course was South-West two miles, when we encountered a rapid, and saw an encampment of the Knisteneaux. We now proceeded North-West by West one mile, among islands, South-West by West three quarters of a mile, South-South-East one mile, veered to South-West through islands three miles and a half, and South by East half a mile. Here a river poured in on the left, which was the most considerable that we had seen since we had passed the mountain. At seven in the evening we landed and encamped.

Though the sun had shone upon us throughout the day, the air was so cold that the men, though actively employed, could not resist it without the aid of their blanket coats. This circumstance might, in some degree, be expected from the surrounding mountains, which were covered with ice and snow; but as they are not so high as to produce the extreme cold which we suffered, it must be more particularly attributed to the high situation of the country itself, rather than to the local elevation of the mountains, the greatest height of which does not exceed fifteen {69}hundred feet; though in general they do not rise to half that altitude.

But as I had not been able to take an exact measurement, I do not presume upon the accuracy of my conjecture. Towards the bottom of these heights, which were clear of snow, the trees were putting forth their leaves, while those in their middle region still retained all the characteristics of winter, and on the upper parts there was little or no wood.


  Monday, 27.[1]—The weather was clear, and we continued our voyage at the usual hour, when we successively found several rapids and points to impede our progress. At noon our latitude was 56. 5. 54. North. The Indians killed a stag; and one of the men who went to fetch it was very much endangered by the rolling down of a large stone from the heights above him.


  Tuesday, 28.—The day was very cloudy. The mountains on both sides of the river seemed to have sunk, in their elevation, during the voyage of yesterday. To-day they {70}resumed their former altitude, and run so close on either side of the channel, that all view was excluded of every thing but themselves. This part of the current was not broken by islands; but in the afternoon we approached some cascades, which obliged us to carry our canoe and its lading for several hundred yards. Here we observed an encampment of the natives, though some time had elapsed since it had been inhabited. The greater part of the day was divided between heavy showers and small rain; and we took our station on the shore about six in the evening, about three miles above the last rapid.


  Wednesday, 29.—The rain was so violent throughout the whole of this day, that we did not venture to proceed. As we had almost expended the contents of a rum-keg, and this being a day which allowed of no active employment, I amused myself with the experiment of enclosing a letter in it, and dispatching it down the stream to take its fate. I accordingly introduced a written account of all our hardships, &c. carefully enclosed in bark, into the small barrel by the bung-hole, which being carefully secured, I consigned this epistolatory cargo to the mercy of the current.


  Thursday, 30.—We were alarmed this morning at break of day, by the continual {71}barking of our dog, who never ceased from running backwards and forwards in the rear of our situation: when, however, the day advanced, we discovered the cause of our alarm to proceed from a wolf, who was parading a ridge a few yards behind us, and had been most probably allured by the scent of our small portion of fresh meat. The weather was cloudy, but it did not prevent us from renewing our progress at a very early hour. A considerable river appeared from the left, and we continued our course till seven in the evening, when we landed at night where there was an Indian encampment.


  Friday, 31.—The morning was clear and cold, and the current very powerful. On crossing the mouth of a river that flowed in from the right of us, we were very much endangered; indeed all the rivers which I have lately seen, appear to overflow their natural limits, as it may be supposed, from the melting of the mountain snow. The water is almost white, the bed of the river being of limestone. The mountains are one solid mass of the same material, but without the least shade of trees, or decoration of foliage. At nine the men were so cold that we landed, in order to kindle a fire, which was considered as a very uncommon circumstance at this season; a small quantity of rum, however, served as an adequate substitute; and the current being so {72}smooth as to admit of the use of paddles, I encouraged them to proceed without any further delay. In a short time an extensive view opened upon us, displaying a beautiful sheet of water, that was heightened by the calmness of the weather, and a splendid sun. Here the mountains which were covered with wood, opened on either side, so that we entertained the hope of soon leaving them behind us. When we had got to the termination of this prospect, the river was barred with rocks, forming cascades and small islands. To proceed onwards, we were under the necessity of clearing a narrow passage of the drift wood, on the left shore. Here the view convinced us that our late hopes were without foundation, as there appeared a ridge or chain of mountains, running South and North as far as the eye could reach.

On advancing two or three miles, we arrived at the fork, one branch running about West-North-West, and the other South-South-East. If I had been governed by my own judgment, I should have taken the former, as it appeared to me to be the most likely to bring us nearest to the part where I wished to fall on the Pacific Ocean, but the old man, whom I have already mentioned as having been frequently on war expeditions in this country, had warned me not, on any account, to follow it, as it was soon lost in various branches among the mountains, and that there was no great river that ran in any direction near it; but by following the latter, he said, we should arrive at a carrying-place to another large river, that did not exceed a day's march, where the inhabitants build houses, and live upon islands. There was so much apparent truth in the old man's narrative, that I determined to be governed by it; for I did not entertain the least doubt, if I could get into the other river, that I should reach the ocean.

I accordingly ordered my steersman to proceed at once to the East branch, which appeared to be more rapid than the other, though it did not possess an equal breadth. These circumstances disposed my men and Indians, the latter in particular being very tired of the voyage, to express their wishes that I should take the Western branch, especially when they perceived the difficulty of stemming the current, in the direction on which I had determined. Indeed the rush of water was so powerful, that we were the greatest part of the afternoon in getting two or three miles—a very tardy and mortifying progress, and which, with the voyage, was openly execrated by many of those who were engaged in it: and the inexpressible toil these people had endured, as well as the dangers they had {74}encountered, required some degree of consideration; I therefore employed those arguments which were the best calculated to calm their immediate discontents, as well as to encourage their future hopes, though, at the same time, I delivered my sentiments in such a manner as to convince them that I was determined to proceed.

On the 1st of June we embarked at sun-rise, and towards noon the current began to slacken; we then put to shore, in order to gum the canoe, when a meridian altitude gave me 55. 42. 16. North latitude. We then continued our course, and towards the evening the current began to recover its former strength. Mr. Mackay and the Indians had already disembarked, to walk and lighten the boat. At sun-set we encamped on a point, being the first dry land which had been found on this side the river, that was fit for our purpose, since our people went on shore. In the morning we passed a large rapid river, that flowed in from the right.

In no part of the North-West did I see so much beaver-work, within an equal distance, as in the course of this day. In some places they had cut down several acres of large poplars; and we saw also a great number of these active and sagacious animals. The time which these wonderful creatures allot for their labours, whether in erecting their curious {75}habitations or providing food, is the whole of the interval between the setting and the rising sun.

Towards the dusky part of the evening we heard several discharges from the fowling pieces of our people, which we answered, to inform them of our situation; and some time after it was dark, they arrived in an equal state of fatigue and alarm; they were also obliged to swim across a channel in order to get to us, as we were situated on an island, though we were ignorant of the circumstance, till they came to inform us. One of the Indians was positive that he heard the discharge of fire-arms above our encampment; and on comparing the number of our discharges with theirs, there appeared to be some foundation for his alarm, as we imagined that we had heard two reports more than they acknowledged; and in their turn, they declared that they had heard twice the number of those which we knew had proceeded from us. The Indians were therefore certain, that the Knisteneaux must be in our vicinity, on a war expedition, and consequently, if they were numerous, we should have had no reason to expect the least mercy from them in this distant country. Though I did not believe that circumstance, or that any of the natives could be in possession of fire-arms, I thought it right, at all events, we should {76}be prepared. Our fusees were, therefore, primed and loaded, and having extinguished our fire, each of us took his station at the foot of a tree, where we passed an uneasy and restless night.

The succeeding morning being clear and pleasant, we proceeded at an early hour against a rapid current, intersected by islands. About eight we passed two large trees, whose roots having been undermined by the current, had recently fallen into the river; and, in my opinion, the crash of their fall had occasioned the noise which caused our late alarm. In this manner the water ravages the islands in these rivers, and by driving down great quantities of wood, forms the foundations of others. The men were so oppressed with fatigue, that it was necessary they should encamp at six in the afternoon. We, therefore, landed on a sandy island, which is a very uncommon object, as the greater part of the islands consist of a bottom of round stones and gravel, covered from three to ten feet with mud and old drift-wood. Beaver-work was as frequently seen as on the preceding day.

On the 3d of June we renewed our voyage with the rising sun. At noon I obtained a meridian altitude, which gave 55. 22. 3. North latitude. I also took time, and the watch was slow 1. 30. 14. apparent time. {77}According to my calculation, this place is about twenty-five miles South-East of the fork.[2]

[1] From this day to the 4th of June the courses of my voyage are omitted, as I lost the book that contained them. I was in the habit of sometimes indulging myself with a short doze in the canoe, and I imagine that the branches of the trees brushed my book from me, when I was in such a situation, which renders the account of these few days less distinct than usual.

[2] I shall now proceed with my usual regularity, which, as I have already mentioned, has been, for some days, suspended, from the loss of my book of observation.




{78}

CHAPTER IV.

JUNE 4, 1793.

  We embarked this morning at four in a very heavy fog. The water had been continually rising, and, in many places, overflowed its banks. The current also was so strong that our progress was very tedious, and required the most laborious exertions. Our course was this day, South-South-East one mile, South-South-West half a mile, South-East three quarters of a mile, North-East by East three quarters of a mile, South-East half a mile, South-East by South one mile, South-South-East one mile and three quarters, South-East by South half a mile, East by South a quarter of a mile, South-East three quarters of a mile, North-East by East half a mile, East by North a quarter of a mile, South-East half a mile, South-East by South a quarter of a mile, South-East by East half a mile, North-East by East half a mile, North-North-East three quarters of a mile to South by East one mile and a half. We could not find a place fit for an encampment, till nine at night, when we landed on a bank of gravel, of which little more appeared above water than the spot we occupied.


{79}  Wednesday, 5.—This morning we found our canoe and baggage in the water, which had continued rising during the night. We then gummed the canoe, as we arrived at too late an hour to perform that operation on the preceding evening. This necessary business being completed, we traversed to the North shore, where I disembarked with Mr. Mackay, and the hunters, in order to ascend an adjacent mountain, with the hope of obtaining a view of the interior part of the country. I directed my people to proceed with all possible diligence, and that, if they met with any accident, or found my return necessary, they should fire two guns. They also understood, that when they should hear the same signal from me, they were to answer, and wait for me, if I were behind them.

When we had ascended to the summit of the hill, we found that it extended onwards in an even, level country; so that, encumbered as we were, with the thick wood, no distant view could be obtained; I therefore climbed a very lofty tree, from whose top I discerned on the right a ridge of mountains covered with snow, bearing about North-West; from thence another ridge of high land, whereon no snow was visible, stretched towards the South: between which and the snowy hills on the East side, there appeared to be an {80}opening, which we determined to be the course of the river.

Having obtained all the satisfaction that the nature of the place would admit, we proceeded forward to overtake the canoe, and after a warm walk came down upon the river, when we discharged our pieces twice, but received no answering signal. I was of opinion, that the canoe was before us, while the Indians entertained an opposite notion. I, however, crossed another point of land, and came again to the waterside about ten. Here we had a long view of the river, which circumstance excited in my mind, some doubts of my former sentiments. We repeated our signals, but without any return; and as every moment now increased my anxiety, I left Mr. Mackay and one of the Indians at this spot to make a large fire, and sent branches adrift down the current as notices of our situation, if the canoe was behind us; and proceeded with the other Indian across a very long point, where the river makes a considerable bend, in order that I might be satisfied if the canoe was a-head. Having been accustomed, for the last fortnight, to very cold weather, I found the heat of this day almost insupportable, as our way lay over a dry sand, which was relieved by no shade, but such as a few scattered cypresses could afford us. About twelve, we arrived once more at the river, {81}and the discharge of our pieces was as unsuccessful as it had hitherto been. The water rushed before us with uncommon velocity; and we also tried the experiment of sending fresh branches down it. To add to the disagreeableness of our situation, the gnats and mosquitoes appeared in swarms to torment us. When we returned to our companions, we found that they had not been contented with remaining in the position where I had left them, but had been three or four miles down the river, but were come back to their station, without having made any discovery of the people on the water.

Various very unpleasing conjectures at once perplexed and distressed us: the Indians, who are inclined to magnify evils of any and every kind, had at once consigned the canoe and every one on board it to the bottom; and were already settling a plan to return upon a raft, as well as calculating the number of nights that would be required to reach their home. As for myself, it will be easily believed, that my mind was in a state of extreme agitation, and the imprudence of my conduct in leaving the people, in such a situation of danger and toilsome exertion added a very painful mortification to the severe apprehensions I already suffered: it was an act of indiscretion which might have put an end to the voyage that I had so much at heart, {82}and compelled me at length to submit to the scheme which my hunters had already formed for our return.

At half past six in the evening, Mr. Mackay and the Cancre set off to proceed down the river, as far as they could before the night came on, and to continue their journey in the morning to the place where we had encamped the preceding evening. I also proposed to make my excursion upwards; and, if we both failed of success in meeting the canoe, it was agreed that we should return to the place where we now separated.

In this situation we had wherewithal to drink in plenty, but with solid food we were totally unprovided. We had not seen even a partridge throughout the day, and the tracks of rein-deer that we had discovered, were of an old date. We were, however, preparing to make a bed of the branches of trees, where we should have had no other canopy than that afforded us by the heavens, when we heard a shot, and soon after another, which was the notice agreed upon, if Mr. Mackay and the Indian should see the canoe: that fortunate circumstance was also confirmed by a return of the signal from the people. I was, however, so fatigued from the heat and exercise of the day, as well as incommoded from drinking so much cold water, that I did not wish to remove till the following {83}morning; but the Indian made such bitter complaints of the cold and hunger he suffered, that I complied with his solicitations to depart; and it was almost dark when we reached the canoe, barefooted, and drenched with rain. But these inconveniences affected me very little, when I saw myself once more surrounded with my people. They informed me, that the canoe had been broken; and that they had this day experienced much greater toil and hardships than on any former occasion. I thought it prudent to affect a belief of every representation that they made, and even to comfort each of them with a consolatory dram: for, however difficult the passage might have been, it was too short to have occupied the whole day, if they had not relaxed in their exertions. The rain was accompanied with thunder and lightning.

It appeared from the various encampments which we had seen, and from several paddles we had found, that the natives frequent this part of the country at the latter end of the summer and the fall. The course to-day was nearly East-South-East two miles and a half, South by West one mile, South-South-East one mile and a half, East two miles, and South-East by South one mile.


  Thursday, 6.—At half past four this morning we continued our voyage, our courses being South-East by South one mile, East by {84}South three quarters of a mile, South-East by East two miles. The whole of this distance we proceeded by hauling the canoe from branch to branch. The current was so strong, that it was impossible to stem it with the paddles; the depth was too great to receive any assistance from the poles, and the bank of the river was so closely lined with willows and other trees, that it was impossible to employ the line. As it was past twelve before we could find a place that would allow of our landing, I could not get a meridian altitude. We occupied the rest of the day in repairing the canoe, drying our cloaths, and making paddles and poles to replace those which had been broken or lost.


  Friday, 7.—The morning was clear and calm; and since we had been at this station the water had risen two inches; so that the current became still stronger; and its velocity had already been so great as to justify our despair in getting up it, if we had not been so long accustomed to surmount. I last night observed an emersion of Jupiter's first satellite, but inadvertently went to bed, without committing the exact time to writing: if my memory is correct, it was 8. 18. 10. by the timepiece. The canoe, which had been little better than a wreck, being now repaired, we proceeded East two miles and a quarter, South-South-East half a mile, South-East {85}a quarter of a mile, when we landed to take an altitude for time. We continued our route at South-East by East three quarters of a mile, and landed again to determine the latitude, which is 55. 2. 51. To this I add, 2. 45. Southing, which will make the place of taking altitude for time 55. 5. 36. with which I find that my time-piece was slow 1. 32. 23. apparent time; and made the longitude obtained 122. 35. 50. West of Greenwich.

From this place we proceeded East by South four miles and a half, East-South-East one mile and a half, in which space there falls in a small river from the East; East half a mile, South-East a mile and a half, East a quarter of a mile, and encamped at seven o'clock. Mr. Mackay and the hunters walked the greatest part of the day, and in the course of their excursion killed a porcupine.[1] Here we found the bed of a very large bear quite fresh. During the day several Indian encampments were seen, which were of a late erection. The current had also lost some of its impetuosity during the greater part of the day.


{86}  Saturday, 8.—It rained and thundered through the night, and at four in the morning we again encountered the current. Our course was East a quarter of a mile, round to South by East along a very high white sandy bank on the East shore, three quarters of a mile, South-South-East a quarter of a mile, South-South-West a quarter of a mile, South-South-East one mile and a quarter, South-East two miles, with a slack current; South-East by East two miles and a quarter, East a quarter of a mile, South-South-East a quarter of a mile, South-East by South four miles and a half, South-East one mile and a half, South-South-West half a mile, East-North-East half a mile, East-South-East a quarter of a mile, South-East by South one mile, South-East by East half a mile, East by South three quarters of a mile, when the mountains were in full view in this direction, and Eastward. For the three last days we could only see them at short intervals and long distances; but till then, they were continually in sight on either side, from our entrance into the fork. Those to the left were at no great distance from us.

For the last two days we had been anxiously looking out for the carrying-place, but could not discover it, and our only hope was in such information as we should be able to procure from the natives. All that remained for us {87}to do, was to push forwards till the river should be no longer navigable: it had now, indeed, overflowed its banks, so that it was eight at night before we could discover a place to encamp. Having found plenty of wild parsnips, we gathered the tops, and boiled them with pemmican for our supper.


  Sunday, 9.—The rain of this morning terminated in a heavy mist at half past five, when we embarked and steered South-East one mile and a half, when it veered North-North-East half a mile, South-East three quarters of a mile, East by South three quarters of a mile, East-South-East a quarter of a mile, South-South-East a quarter of a mile, South-East by East one mile, North-East by East half a mile, South-East by East half a mile, South-East by South three quarters of a mile, South-East three quarters of a mile, East by South half a mile, South-East by East half a mile, East-North-East three quarters of a mile, when it veered to South-South-East half a mile, then back to East (when a blue mountain, clear of snow, appeared a-head) one mile and a half; North-East by East half a mile, East by North one mile, when it veered to South-East half a mile, then on to North-West three quarters of a mile, and back to North-East by East half a mile, South by West a quarter of a mile, North-East by East to North-North-East half {88}a mile, South-South-East a quarter of a mile, and East by North half a mile; here we perceived a smell of fire; and in a short time heard people in the woods, as if in a state of great confusion, which was occasioned, as we afterwards understood, by their discovery of us. At the same time this unexpected circumstance produced some little discomposure among ourselves, as our arms were not in a state of preparation, and we were as yet unable to ascertain the number of the party. I considered, that if there were but few, it would be needless to pursue them, as it would not be probable that we should overtake them in these thick woods; and if they were numerous, it would be an act of great imprudence to make the attempt, at least during their present alarm. I therefore ordered my people to strike off to the opposite side, that we might see if any of them had sufficient courage to remain; but, before we were half over the river, which in this part is not more than a hundred yards wide, two men appeared on a rising ground over against us, brandishing their spears, displaying their bows and arrows, and accompanying their hostile gestures with loud vociferations. My interpreter did not hesitate to assure them, that they might dispel their apprehensions, as we were white people, who meditated no injury, but were, on the contrary, desirous of {89}demonstrating every mark of kindness and friendship. They did not, however, seem disposed to confide in our declarations, and actually threatened, if we came over before they were more fully satisfied of our peaceable intentions, that they would discharge their arrows at us. This was a decided kind of conduct which I did not expect; at the same time I readily complied with their proposition, and after some time had passed in hearing and answering their questions, they consented to our landing, though not without betraying very evident symptoms of fear and distrust. They, however, laid aside their weapons, and when I stepped forward and took each of them by the hand, one of them, but with a very tremulous action, drew his knife from his sleeve, and presented it to me as a mark of his submission to my will and pleasure. On our first hearing the noise of these people in the woods, we displayed our flag, which was now shewn to them as a token of friendship. They examined us, and every thing about us, with a minute and suspicious attention. They had heard, indeed, of white men, but this was the first time that they had ever seen a human being of a complexion different from their own. The party had been here but a few hours; nor had they yet erected their sheds; and, except the two men now with us, they had all fled, leaving their little {90}property behind them. To those which had given us such a proof of their confidence, we paid the most conciliating attentions in our power. One of them I sent to recall his people, and the other, for very obvious reasons, we kept with us. In the mean time the canoe was unloaded, the necessary baggage carried up the hill, and the tents pitched.

Here I determined to remain till the Indians became so familiarized to us, as to give all the intelligence which we imagined might be obtained from them. In fact, it had been my intention to land where I might most probably discover the carrying-place, which was our more immediate object, and undertake marches of two or three days, in different directions, in search of another river. If unsuccessful in this attempt, it was my purpose to continue my progress up the present river, as far as it was navigable, and if we did not meet with natives to instruct us in our further progress, I had determined to return to the fork, and take the other branch, with the hope of better fortune.

It was about three in the afternoon when we landed, and at five the whole party of Indians were assembled. It consisted only of three men, three women, and seven or eight boys and girls. With their scratched legs, bleeding feet, and dishevelled hair, as in the hurry of their flight they had left their shoes {91}and leggins behind them, they displayed a most wretched appearance: they were consoled, however, with beads, and other trifles, which seemed to please them; they had pemmican also given them to eat, which was not unwelcome, and in our opinion, at least, superior to their own provision, which consisted entirely of dried fish.

When I thought that they were sufficiently composed, I sent for the men to my tent, to gain such information respecting the country as I concluded it was in their power to afford me. But my expectations were by no means satisfied: they said that they were not acquainted with any river to the Westward, but that there was one from whence they were just arrived, over a carrying-place of eleven days march, which they represented as being a branch only of the river before us. Their iron-work they obtained from the people who inhabit the bank of that river, and an adjacent lake, in exchange for beaver skins, and dressed moose skins. They represented the latter as travelling, during a moon, to get to the country of other tribes, who live in houses, with whom they traffic for the same commodities; and that these also extend their journies in the same manner to the sea coast, or, to use their expression, the Stinking Lake, where they trade with people like us, that come there in vessels as big as islands. They {92}added, that the people to the Westward, as they have been told, are very numerous. Those who inhabit the other branch they stated as consisting of about forty families, while they themselves did not amount to more than a fourth of that number; and were almost continually compelled to remain in their strong holds, where they sometimes perished with cold and hunger, to secure themselves from their enemies, who never failed to attack them whenever an opportunity presented itself.

This account of the country, from a people who I had every reason to suppose were well acquainted with every part of it, threatened to disconcert the project on which my heart was set, and in which my whole mind was occupied. It occurred to me, however, that from fear, or other motives, they might be tardy in their communication; I therefore assured them that, if they would direct me to the river which I described to them, I would come in large vessels, like those that their neighbours had described, to the mouth of it, and bring them arms and ammunition in exchange for the produce of their country; so that they might be able to defend themselves against their enemies, and no longer remain in that abject, distressed, and fugitive state in which they then lived. I added also, that in the mean time, if they would, on my {93}return accompany me below the mountains, to a country which was very abundant in animals, I would furnish them, and their companions, with every thing they might want; and make peace between them and the Beaver Indians. But all these promises did not appear to advance the object of my inquiries, and they still persisted in their ignorance of any such river as I had mentioned, that discharged itself into the sea.

In this state of perplexity and disappointment, various projects presented themselves to my mind, which were no sooner formed than they were discovered to be impracticable, and were consequently abandoned. At one time I thought of leaving the canoe, and every thing it contained, to go over land, and pursue that chain of connexion by which these people obtain their iron-work; but a very brief course of reflection convinced me that it would be impossible for us to carry provisions for our support through any considerable part of such a journey, as well as presents, to secure us a kind reception among the natives, and ammunition for the service of the hunters, and to defend ourselves against any act of hostility. At another time my solicitude for the success of the expedition incited a wish to remain with the natives, and go to the sea by the way they had described; but the accomplishment of such a journey, even if no {94}accident should interpose, would have required a portion of time which it was not in my power to bestow. In my present state of information, to proceed further up the river was considered as a fruitless waste of toilsome exertion; and to return unsuccessful, after all our labour, sufferings, and dangers, was an idea too painful to indulge. Besides, I could not yet abandon the hope that the Indians might not yet be sufficiently composed and confident, to disclose their real knowledge of the country freely and fully to me. Nor was I altogether without my doubts respecting the fidelity of my interpreter, who being very much tired of the voyage, might be induced to withhold those communications which would induce me to continue it. I therefore continued my attentions to the natives, regaled them with such provisions as I had, indulged their children with a taste of sugar, and determined to suspend my conversation with them till the following morning. On my expressing a desire to partake of their fish, they brought me a few dried trout, well cured, that had been taken in the river which they lately left. One of the men also brought me five beaver skins, as a present.


  Monday, 10.—The solicitude that possessed my mind interrupted my repose; when the dawn appeared I had already quitted my bed, and was waiting with impatience for another {95}conference with the natives. The sun, however, had risen before they left their leafy bowers, whither they had retired with their children, having most hospitably resigned their beds, and the partners of them, to the solicitations of my young men.

I now repeated my inquiries, but my perplexity was not removed by any favourable variation in their answers. About nine, however, one of them, still remaining at my fire, in conversation with the interpreters, I understood enough of his language to know that he mentioned something about a great river, at the same time pointing significantly up that which was before us. On my inquiring of the interpreter respecting that expression, I was informed that he knew of a large river, that runs towards the mid-day sun, a branch of which flowed near the source of that which we were now navigating; and that there were only three small lakes, and as many carrying-places, leading to a small river, which discharges itself into the great river, but that the latter did not empty itself into the sea. The inhabitants, he said, built houses, lived on islands, and were a numerous and warlike people. I desired him to describe the road to the other river, by delineating it with a piece of coal, on a strip of bark, which he accomplished to my satisfaction. The opinion that the river did not discharge itself into the sea, {96}I very confidently imputed to his ignorance of the country.

My hopes were now renewed, and an object presented itself which awakened my utmost impatience. To facilitate its attainment, one of the Indians was induced, by presents, to accompany me as a guide to the first inhabitants, which we might expect to meet on the small lakes in our way. I accordingly resolved to depart with all expedition, and while my people were making every necessary preparation, I employed myself in writing the following description of the natives around me:

They are low in stature, not exceeding five feet six or seven inches; and they are of that meagre appearance which might be expected in a people whose life is one secession of difficulties, in procuring subsistence. Their faces are round, with high cheek bones; and their eyes, which are small, are of a dark brown colour; the cartilage of their nose is perforated, but without any ornaments suspended from it; their hair is of a dingy black, hanging loose and in disorder over their shoulders, but irregularly cut in the front, so as not to obstruct the sight; their beards are eradicated, with the exception of a few straggling hairs, and their complexion is a swarthy yellow.

Their dress consists of robes made of the {97}skins of the heaver, the ground-hog and the reindeer, dressed in the hair, and of the moose-skin without it. All of them are ornamented with a fringe, while some of them have tassels hanging down the seams; those of the ground-hog are decorated on the fur side with the tails of the animal, which they do not separate from them. Their garments they tie over the shoulders, and fasten them round the middle with a belt of green skin, which is as stiff as horn. Their leggins are long, and, if they were topped with a waistband, might be called trowsers: they, as well as their shoes, are made of dressed moose, elk, or rein-deer skin. The organs of generation they leave uncovered.

The women differ little in their dress, from the men, except in the addition of an apron, which is fastened round the waist, and hangs down to the knees. They are in general of a more lusty make than the other sex, and taller in proportion, but infinitely their inferiors in cleanliness. A black artificial stripe crosses the face beneath the eye, from ear to ear, which I first took for scabs, from the accumulation of dirt on it. Their hair, which is longer than that of the men, is divided from the forehead to the crown, and drawn back in long plaits behind the ears. They have also a few white beads, which they get where they procure their iron: they are {98}from a line to an inch in length, and are worn in their ears, but are not of European manufacture. These, with bracelets made of horn and bone, compose all the ornaments which decorate their persons. Necklaces of the grisly or white bear's claws, are worn exclusively by the men.

Their arms consist of bows made of cedar, six feet in length, with a short iron spike at one end, and serve occasionally as a spear. Their arrows are well made, barbed, and pointed with iron, flint, stone, or bone; they are feathered, and from two or two feet and a half in length. They have two kinds of spears, but both are double edged, and of well polished iron; one of them is about twelve inches long, and two wide; the other about half the width, and two thirds of the length; the shafts of the first are eight feet in length, and the latter six. They have also spears made of bone. Their knives consist of pieces of iron, shaped and handled by themselves. Their axes are something like our adze, and they use them in the same manner as we employ that instrument. They were, indeed, furnished with iron in a manner that I could not have supposed, and plainly proved to me that their communication with those, who communicate with the inhabitants of the sea coast, cannot be very difficult, and from their ample provision of iron weapons, the {99}means of procuring it must be of a more distant origin than I had at first conjectured.

They have snares made of green skin, which they cut to the size of sturgeon twine, and twist a certain number of them together; and though when completed they do not exceed the thickness of a cod-line, their strength is sufficient to hold a moose-deer; they are from one and a half to two fathoms in length. Their nets and fishing-lines are made of willow-bark and nettles; those made of the latter are finer and smoother than if made with hempen thread. Their hooks are small bones, fixed in pieces of wood split for that purpose, and tied round with fine watape, which has been particularly described in the former voyage. Their kettles are also made of watape, which is so closely woven that they never leak, and they heat water in them, by putting red-hot stones into it. There is one kind of them, made of spruce-bark, which they hang over the fire, but at such a distance as to receive the heat without being within reach of the blaze; a very tedious operation. They have various dishes of wood and bark; spoons of horn and wood, and buckets; bags of leather and net-work, and baskets of bark, some of which hold their fishing-tackle, while others are contrived to be carried on the back. They have a brown kind of earth in great abundance, with which they rub their clothes, not {100}only for ornament but utility, as it prevents the leather from becoming hard after it has been wetted. They have spruce bark in great plenty, with which they make their canoes, an operation that does not require any great portion of skill or ingenuity, and is managed in the following manner.—The bark is taken off the tree the whole length of the intended canoe, which is commonly about eighteen feet, and is sewed with watape at both ends; two laths are then laid, and fixed along the edge of the bark which forms the gunwale; in these are fixed the bars, and against them bear the ribs or timbers, that are out to the length to which the bark can be stretched; and, to give additional strength, strips of wood are laid between them: to make the whole water-tight, gum is abundantly employed. These vessels carry from two to five people. Canoes of a similar construction were used by the Beaver Indians within these few years, but they now very generally employ those made of the bark of the birch tree, which are by far more durable. Their paddles are about six feet long, and about one foot is occupied by the blade, which is in the shape of an heart.

Previous to our departure, the natives had caught a couple of trout, of about six pounds weight, which they brought me, and I paid them with beads. They likewise gave me a {101}net, made of nettles, the skin of a moose-deer, dressed, and a white horn in the shape of a spoon which resembles the horn of the buffalo of the Copper-Mine-River; but their description of the animal to which it belongs does not answer to that. My young men also got two quivers of excellent arrows, a collar of white bear's claws, of a great length, horn bracelets, and other articles, for which they received an ample remuneration.

[1] We had been obliged to indulge our hunters with sitting idle in the canoe, lest their being compelled to share in the labour of navigating it should disgust and drive them from us. We, therefore, employed them as much as possible on shore, as well to procure provisions, as to lighten the canoe.




{102}

CHAPTER V.

JUNE, 1793.

  Monday, 10.—At ten we were ready to embark. I then took leave of the Indians, but encouraged them to expect us in two moons, and expressed an hope that I should find them on the road with any of their relations whom they might meet. I also returned the beaver skins to the man who had presented them to me, desiring him to take care of them till I came back, when I would purchase them of him. Our guide expressed much less concern about the undertaking in which he had engaged, than his companions, who appeared to be affected with great solicitude for his safety.

We now pushed off the canoe from the bank, and proceeded East half a mile, when a river flowed in from the left, about half as large as that which we were navigating. We continued the same course three quarters of a mile, when we missed two of our fowling pieces, which had been forgotten, and I sent their owners back for them, who were absent on this errand upwards of an hour. We now proceeded North-East by East half a mile, North-East by North three quarters of a mile, when the current slackened; there was a {103}verdant spot on the left, where, from the remains of some Indian timber-work, it appeared, that the natives have frequently encamped. Our next course was East one mile, and we saw a ridge of mountains covered with snow to the South-East. The land on our right was low and marshy for three or four miles, when it rose into a range of heights that extended to the mountains. We proceeded East-South-East a mile and a half, South-East by East one mile, East by South three quarters of a mile, South-East by East one mile, East by South half a mile, North-East by East one mile, South-East half a mile, East-North-East a mile and a quarter, South-South-East half a mile, North-North-East a mile and a half: here a river flowed in from the left, which was about one-fourth part as large as that which received its tributary waters. We then continued East by South half a mile, to the foot of the mountain on the South of the above river. The course now veered short, South-West by West three quarters of a mile, East by South a quarter of a mile, South half a mile, South-East by South half a mile, South-West a quarter of a mile, East by South a quarter of a mile, veered to West-North-West a quarter of a mile, South-West one eighth of a mile, East-South-East one quarter of a mile, East one sixth of a mile, South-South-West one twelfth {104}of a mile, East-South-East one eighth of a mile, North-East by East one third of a mile, East by North one twelfth of a mile, North-East by East one third of a mile, East one sixteenth of a mile, South-East one twelfth of a mile, North-East by East one twelfth of a mile, East one eighth of a mile, and East-South-East half a mile, when we landed at seven o'clock and encamped. During the greatest part of the distance we came to-day, the river runs close under the mountains on the left.


  Tuesday, 11.—[Transcriber's Note 1] The morning was clear and cold. On my interpreter's encouraging the guide to dispel all apprehension, to maintain his fidelity to me, and not to desert in the night, "How is it possible for me," he replied, "to leave the lodge of the Great Spirit!—When he tells me that he has no further occasion for me, I will then return to my children." As we proceeded, however, he soon lost, and with good reason, his exalted notions of me.

At four we continued our voyage, steering East by South a mile and a half, East-South-East half a mile. A river appeared on the left, at the foot of a mountain which, from its conical form, my young Indian called the Beaver Lodge Mountain. Having proceeded South-South-East half a mile, another river appeared from the right. We now came in a {105}line with the beginning of the mountains we saw yesterday: others of the same kind ran parallel with them on the left side of the river, which was reduced to the breadth of fifteen yards, and with a moderate current.

We now steered East-North-East one eighth of a mile, South-East by South one eighth of a mile, East-South-East one sixth of a mile, South-West one eighth of a mile, East-South-East one eighth of a mile, South-South-East one sixth of a mile, North-East by East one twelfth of a mile, East-South-East half a mile, South-West by West one third of a mile, South-South-East one eighth of a mile, South-South-West one quarter of a mile, North-East one sixth of a mile, South by West one fourth of a mile, East three quarters of a mile, and North-East one quarter of a mile. Here the mountain on the left appeared to be composed of a succession of round hills, covered with wood almost to their summits, which were white with snow, and crowned with withered trees. We now steered East, in a line with the high lands on the right five miles; North one twelfth of a mile, North-East by North one eighth of a mile, South by East one sixteenth of a mile, North-East by North one fourth of a mile, where another river fell in from the right; North-East by East one sixth of a mile, East two miles and a half, South one twelfth of a {106}mile, North-East half a mile, South-East one third of a mile, East one mile and a quarter, South-South-West one sixteenth of a mile, North-East by East half a mile, East one mile and three quarters, South and South-West by West half a mile, North-East half a mile, South one third of a mile, North-East by North one sixth of a mile, East by South one fourth of a mile, South one eighth of a mile, South-East three quarters of a mile. The canoe had taken in so much water, that it was necessary for us to land here, in order to stop the leakage, which occasioned the delay of an hour and a quarter, North-East a quarter of a mile, East-North-East a quarter of a mile, South-East by South a sixteenth of a mile, East by South a twelfth of a mile, North-East one sixth of a mile, East-South-East one sixteenth of a mile, South-West half a mile, North-East a quarter of a mile, East by South half a mile, South-South-East one twelfth of a mile, East half a mile, North-East by North a quarter of a mile, South-South-East a quarter of a mile, North-East by North one twelfth of a mile, where a small river flowed in from the left, South-East by East one twelfth of a mile, South by East a quarter of a mile, South-East one eighth of a mile, East one twelfth of a mile, North-East by North a quarter of a mile, South half a mile, South-East by South one eighth of a {107}mile, North-East one fourth of a mile, South-East by East, and South-East by South one third of a mile, East-South-East, and North-North-East one third of a mile, and South by West, East and East-North-East one eighth of a mile.

Here we quitted the main branch, which, according to the information of our guide, terminates at a short distance, where it is supplied by the snow which covers the mountains. In the same direction is a valley which appears to be of very great depth, and is full of snow, that rises nearly to the height of the land, and forms a reservoir of itself sufficient to furnish a river, whenever there is a moderate degree of heat. The branch which we left was not, at this time, more than ten yards broad, while that which we entered was still less. Here the current was very trifling, and the channel so meandering, that we sometimes found it difficult to work the canoe forward. The straight course from this to the entrance of a small lake or pond, is about East one mile. This entrance by the river into the lake was almost choked up by a quantity of drift-wood, which appeared to me to be an extraordinary circumstance: but I afterwards found that it falls down from the mountains. The water, however, was so high, that the country was entirely overflowed, and we passed with the canoe among the branches {108}of trees. The principal wood along the banks is spruce, intermixed with a few white birch, growing on detached spots, the intervening spaces being covered with willow and elder. We advanced about a mile in the lake, and took up our station for the night at an old Indian encampment. Here we expected to meet with natives, but were disappointed; but our guide encouraged us with the hope of seeing some on the morrow. We saw beaver in the course of the afternoon, but did not discharge our pieces from the fear of alarming the inhabitants; there were also swans in great numbers, with geese and ducks, which we did not disturb for the same reason. We observed also the tracks of moose-deer that had crossed the river; and wild parsnips grew here in abundance, which have been already mentioned as a grateful vegetable. Of birds, we saw bluejays, yellow birds, and one beautiful humming-bird; of the first and last, I had not seen any since I had been in the North-West.


  Wednesday, 12.—[Transcriber's Note 2] The weather was the same as yesterday, and we proceeded between three and four in the morning. We took up the net which we had set the preceding evening, when it contained a trout, one white fish, one carp, and three jub. The lake is about two miles in length, East by South, and from three to five hundred yards wide. This I consider as the {109}highest and Southernmost source of the Unjigah, or Peace River, latitude, 54. 24. North, longitude 121. West from Greenwich, which, after a winding course through a vast extent of country, receiving many large rivers in its progress, and passing through the Slave Lake, empties itself into the Frozen Ocean, in 70. North latitude, and about 135. West longitude.

We landed and unloaded, where we found a beaten path leading over a low ridge of land eight hundred and seventeen paces in length, to another small lake. The distance between the two mountains at this place is about a quarter of a mile, rocky precipices presenting themselves on both sides. A few large spruce trees and liards were scattered over the carrying-place. There were also willows along the side of the water, with plenty of grass and weeds. The natives had left their old canoes here, with baskets hanging on the trees, which contained various articles. From the latter I took a net, some hooks, a goat's-horn, and a kind of wooden trap, in which, as our guide informed me, the ground-hog is taken. I left, however, in exchange, a knife, some fire-steels, beads, awls, &c. Here two streams tumble down the rocks from the right, and lose themselves in the lake which we had left; while two others fall from the opposite heights, and glide into the lake {110}which we were approaching; this being the highest point of land dividing these waters, and we are now going with the stream. This lake runs in the same course as the last, but is rather narrower, and not more than half the length. We were obliged to clear away some floating drift-wood to get to the carrying-place, over which is a beaten path of only an hundred and seventy-five paces long. The lake empties itself by a small river, which, if the channel were not interrupted by large trees that had fallen across it, would have admitted of our canoe with all its lading: the impediment, in deed, might have been removed by two axe-men in a few hours. On the edge of the water, we observed a large quantity of thick yellow, scum or froth, of an acrid taste and smell.

We embarked on this lake, which is in the same course, and about the same size as that which we had just left, and from whence we passed into a small river, that was so full of fallen wood, as to employ some time, and require some exertion, to force a passage. At the entrance, it afforded no more water than was just sufficient to bear the canoe; but it was soon increased by many small streams which came in broken rills down the rugged sides of the mountains, and were furnished, as I suppose, by the melting of the snow. These accessory streamlets had all the {111}coldness of ice. Our course continued to be obstructed by banks of gravel, as well as trees which had fallen across the river. We were obliged to force our way through the one, and to cut through the other, at a great expense of time and trouble. In many places the current was also very rapid and meandering. At four in the afternoon, we stopped to unload and carry, and at five we entered a small round lake of about one third of a mile in diameter. From the last lake to this is, I think, in a straight line, East by South six miles, though it is twice that distance by the winding of the river. We again entered the river, which soon ran with great rapidity, and rushed impetuously over a bed of flat stones. At half past six we were stopped by two large trees that lay across the river, and it was with great difficulty that the canoe was prevented from driving against them. Here we unloaded and formed our encampment.

The weather was cloudy and raw, and as the circumstances of this day's voyage had compelled us to be frequently in the water, which was cold as ice, we were almost in a benumbed state. Some of the people who had gone ashore to lighten the canoe, experienced great difficulty in reaching us, from the rugged state of the country; it was, indeed, almost dark when they arrived. We had no sooner landed than I sent two men down the {112}river to bring me some account of its circumstances, that I might form a judgment of the difficulties which might await us on the morrow; and they brought back a fearful detail of rapid currents, fallen trees, and large stones. At this place our guide manifested evident symptoms of discontent: he had been very much alarmed in going down some of the rapids with us, and expressed an anxiety to return. He shewed us a mountain, at no great distance, which he represented as being on the other side of a river, into which this empties itself.


  Thursday, 13.—At an early hour of this morning the men began to cut a road, in order to carry the canoe and lading beyond the rapid; and by seven they were ready. That business was soon effected, and the canoe reladen, to proceed with the current which ran with great rapidity. In order to lighten her, it was my intention to walk with some of the people; but those in the boat with great earnestness requested me to embark, declaring, at the same time, that, if they perished, I should perish with them. I did not then imagine in how short a period their apprehension would be justified. We accordingly pushed off, and had proceeded but a very short way when the canoe struck, and notwithstanding all our exertions, the violence of the current was so great as to drive {113}her sideways down the river, and break her by the first bar, when I instantly jumped into the water, and the men followed my example; but before we could set her straight, or stop her, we came to deeper water, so that we were obliged to re-embark with the utmost precipitation. One of the men who was not sufficiently active, was left to get on shore in the best manner in his power. We had hardly regained our situations when we drove against a rock which shattered the stern of the canoe in such a manner, that it held only by the gunwales, so that the steersman could no longer keep his place. The violence of this stroke drove us to the opposite side of the river, which is but narrow, when the bow met with the same fate as the stern. At this moment the foreman seized on some branches of a small tree in the hope of bringing up the canoe, but such was their elasticity that, in a manner not easily described, he was jerked on shore in an instant, and with a degree of violence that threatened his destruction. But we had no time to turn from our own situation to enquire what had befallen him; for, in a few moments, we came across a cascade which broke several large holes in the bottom of the canoe, and started all the bars, except one behind the scooping seat. If this accident, however, had not happened, the vessel must have been irretrievably overset. {114}The wreck becoming flat on the water, we all jumped out, while the steersman, who had been compelled to abandon his place, and had not recovered from his fright, called out to his companions to save themselves. My peremptory commands superseded the effects of his fear, and they all held fast to the wreck; to which fortunate resolution we owed our safety, as we should otherwise have been dashed against the rocks by the force of the water, or driven over the cascades. In this condition we were forced several hundred yards, and every yard on the verge of destruction; but, at length, we most fortunately arrived in shallow water and a small eddy, where we were enabled to make a stand, from the weight of the canoe resting on the stones, rather than from any exertions of our exhausted strength. For though our efforts were short, they were pushed to the utmost, as life or death depended on them.

This alarming scene, with all its terrors and dangers, occupied only a few minutes; and in the present suspension of it, we called to the people on shore to come to our assistance, and they immediately obeyed the summons. The foreman, however, was the first with us; he had escaped unhurt from the extraordinary jerk with which he was thrown out of the boat, and just as we were beginning to take our effects out of the water, he {115}appeared to give his assistance. The Indians, when they saw our deplorable situation, instead of making the least effort to help us, sat down and gave vent to their tears. I was on the outside of the canoe, where I remained till every thing was got on shore, in a state of great pain from the extreme cold of the water; so that at length, it was with difficulty I could stand, from the benumbed state of my limbs.

The loss was considerable and important, for it consisted of our whole stock of balls, and some of our furniture; but these considerations were forgotten in the impressions of our miraculous escape. Our first inquiry was after the absent man, whom in the first moment of danger, we had left to get on shore, and in a short time his appearance removed our anxiety. We had, however, sustained no personal injury of consequence, and my bruises seemed to be in the greater proportion.

All the different articles were now spread out to dry. The powder had fortunately received no damage, and all my instruments had escaped. Indeed, when my people began to recover from their alarm, and to enjoy a sense of safety, some of them, if not all, were by no means sorry for our late misfortune, from the hope that it must put a period to our voyage, particularly as we were without {116}a canoe, and all the bullets sunk in the river. It did not, indeed, seem possible to them that we could proceed under these circumstances. I listened, however, to the observations that were made on the occasion without replying to them, till their panic was dispelled, and they had got themselves warm and comfortable, with an hearty meal, and rum enough to raise their spirits.

I then addressed them, by recommending them all to be thankful for their late very narrow escape. I also stated, that the navigation was not impracticable in itself, but from our ignorance of its course; and that our late experience would enable us to pursue our voyage with greater security. I brought to their recollection, that I did not deceive them, and that they were made acquainted with the difficulties and dangers they must expect to encounter, before they engaged to accompany me. I also urged the honour of conquering disasters, and the disgrace that would attend them on their return home, without having attained the object of the expedition. Nor did I fail to mention the courage and resolution which was the peculiar boast of the North men; and that I depended on them, at that moment, for the maintenance of their character. I quieted their apprehension as to the loss of the bullets, by bringing to their recollection that we still had shot from which they {117}might be manufactured. I at the same time acknowledged the difficulty of restoring the wreck of the canoe, but confided in our skill and exertion to put it in such a state as would carry us on to where we might procure bark, and build a new one. In short, my harangue produced the desired effect, and a very general assent appeared to go wherever I should lead the way.

Various opinions were offered in the present posture of affairs, and it was rather a general wish that the wreck should be abandoned, and all the lading carried to the river, which our guide informed us was at no great distance, and in the vicinity of woods where he believed there was plenty of bark. This project seemed not to promise that certainty to which I looked in my present operations; besides, I had my doubts respecting the views of my guide, and consequently could not confide in the representation he made to me. I therefore dispatched two of the men at nine in the morning, with one of the young Indians, for I did not venture to trust the guide out of my sight, in search of bark, and to endeavor, if it were possible, in the course of the day, to penetrate to the great river, into which that before us discharges itself in the direction which the guide had communicated. I now joined my people in order to repair, as well as circumstances would admit, our wreck {118}of a canoe, and I began to set them the example.

At noon I had an altitude, which gave 54. 23. North latitude. At four in the afternoon I took time, with the hope that in the night I might obtain an observation of Jupiter, and his satellites, but I had not a sufficient horizon, from the propinquity of the mountains. The result of my calculation for the time was 1. 32. 28. slow apparent time.

It now grew late, and the people who had been sent on the excursion already mentioned, were, not yet returned; about ten o'clock, however, I heard a man halloo, and I very gladly returned the signal. In a short time our young Indian arrived with a small roll of indifferent bark: he was oppressed with fatigue and hunger, and his clothes torn to rags: he had parted with the other two men at sunset, who had walked the whole day, in a dreadful country, without procuring any good bark, or being able to get to the large river. His account of the river, on whose banks we were, could not be more unfavourable or discouraging; it had appeared to him to be little more than a succession of falls and rapids, with occasional interruptions of fallen trees.

Our guide became so dissatisfied and troubled in mind, that we could not obtain from him any regular account of the country before us. All we could collect from him was, that {119}the river into which this empties itself, is but a branch of a large river, the great fork being at no great distance from the confluence of this; and that he knew of no lake, or large body of still water, in the vicinity of these rivers. To this account of the country, he added some strange, fanciful, but terrifying descriptions of the natives, similar to those which were mentioned in the former voyage.

We had an escape this day, which I must add to the many instances of good fortune which I experienced in this perilous expedition. The powder had been spread out, to the amount of eighty pounds weight, to receive the air; and, in this situation, one of the men carelessly and composedly walked across it with a lighted pipe in his mouth, but without any ill consequence resulting from such an act of criminal negligence. I need not add that one spark might have put a period to all my anxiety and ambition.

I observed several trees and plants on the banks of this river, which I had not seen to the North of the latitude 52. such as the cedar, maple, hemlock, &c. At this time the water rose fast, and passed on with the rapidity of an arrow shot from a bow.


  Friday 14.—The weather was fine, clear, and warm, and at an early hour of the morning we resumed our repair of the canoe. At half past seven our two men returned hungry {120}and cold, not having tasted food, or enjoyed the least repose for twenty-four hours, with their clothes torn into tatters, and their skin lacerated, in passing through the woods. Their account was the same as that brought by the Indian, with this exception, that they had reason to think they saw the river, or branch which our guide had mentioned: but they were of opinion that from the frequent obstructions in this river, we should have to carry the whole way to it, through a dreadful country, where much time and labour would be required to open a passage through it.

Discouraging as these accounts were, they did not, however, interrupt for a moment the task in which we were engaged, of repairing the canoe; and this work we contrived to complete by the conclusion of the day. The bark which was brought by the Indian, with some pieces of oil-cloth, and plenty of gum, enabled us to put our shattered vessel in a condition to answer our present purposes. The guide, who has been mentioned as manifesting continual signs of dissatisfaction, now assumed an air of contentment, which I attributed to a smoke that was visible in the direction of the river; as he naturally expected, if we should fall in with any natives, which was now very probable, from such a circumstance, that he should be released from a service which he had found so irksome and {121}full of danger. I had an observation at noon, which made our latitude 54. 23. 48. North. I also took time, and found it slow apparent time 1. 38. 44.


  Saturday, 15.—The weather continued the same as the preceding day, and according to the directions which I had previously given, my people began at a very early hour to open a road, through which we might carry a part of our lading; as I was fearful of risking the whole of it in the canoe, in its present weak state, and in a part of the river which is full of shoals and rapids. Four men were employed to conduct her, lightened as she was of twelve packages. They passed several dangerous places, and met with various obstructions, the current of the river being frequently stopped by rafts of drift wood, and fallen trees, so that after fourteen hours hard labour we had not made more than three miles. Our course was South-East by East, and as we had not met with any accident, the men appeared to feel a renewed courage to continue their voyage. In the morning, however, one of the crew, whose name was Beauchamp, peremptorily refused to embark in the canoe. This being the first example of absolute disobedience which had yet appeared during the course of our expedition, I should not have passed it over without taking some very severe means to prevent a repetition of {122}it; but as he had the general character of a simple fellow, among his companions, and had been frightened out of what little sense he possessed, by our late dangers, I rather preferred to consider him as unworthy of accompanying us, and to represent him as an object of ridicule and contempt for his pusillanimous behaviour; though, in fact, he was a very useful, active, and laborious man.

At the close of the day we assembled round a blazing fire; and the whole party, being enlivened with the usual beverage which I supplied on these occasions, forgot their fatigues and apprehensions; nor did they fail to anticipate the pleasure they should enjoy in getting clear of their present difficulties, and gliding onwards with a strong and steady stream, which our guide had described as the characteristic of the large river we soon expected to enter.


  Sunday, 16.—The fine weather continued, and we began our work, as we had done the preceding day; some were occupied in opening a road, others were carrying, and the rest employed in conducting the canoe. I was of the first party, and soon discovered that we had encamped about half a mile above several falls, over which we could not attempt to run the canoe, lightened even as she was. This circumstance rendered it necessary that the road should be made sufficiently wide to {123}admit the canoe to pass; a tedious and toilsome work. In running her down a rapid above the falls, a hole was broken in her bottom, which occasioned a considerable delay, as we were destitute of the materials necessary for her effectual reparation. On my being informed of this misfortune, I returned, and ordered Mr. Mackay, with two Indians, to quit their occupation in making the road, and endeavour to penetrate to the great river, according to the direction which the guide had communicated, without paying any attention to the course of the river before us.

When the people had repaired the canoe in the best manner they were able, we conducted her to the head of the falls; she was then unloaded and taken out of the water, when we carried her for a considerable distance through a low, swampy country. I appointed four men to this laborious office, which they executed at the peril of their lives, for the canoe was now become so heavy, from the additional quantity of bark and gum necessary to patch her up, that two men could not carry her more than an hundred yards, without being relieved; and as their way lay through deep mud, which was rendered more difficult by the roots and prostrate trunks of trees, they were every moment in danger of falling; and beneath such a weight, one false step might have been attended with fatal consequences. {124}The other two men and myself followed as fast as we could, with the lading. Thus did we toil till seven o'clock in the evening, to get to the termination of the road that had been made in the morning. Here Mr. Mackay and the Indian joined us, after having been at the river, which they represented as rather large. They had also observed, that the lower part of the river before us was so full of fallen wood, that the attempt to clear a passage through it, would be an unavailing labour. The country through which they had passed was morass, and almost impenetrable wood. In passing over one of the embarras, our dog, which was following them, fell in, and it was with very great difficulty that he was saved, as the current had carried him under the drift. They brought with them two geese, which had been shot in the course of their expedition. To add to our perplexities and embarrassments, we were persecuted by mosquitoes and sand-flies, through the whole of the day.

The extent of our journey was not more than two miles South-East; and so much fatigue and pain had been suffered in the course of it, that my people, as might be expected, looked forward to a continuance of it with discouragement and dismay. I was, indeed, informed that murmurs prevailed among them, of which, however, I took no notice. {125} When we were assembled together for the night, I gave each of them a dram, and in a short time they retired to the repose which they so much required. We could discover the termination of the mountains at a considerable distance on either side of us, which, according to my conjecture, marked the course of the great river. On the mountains to the East there were several fires, as their smokes were very visible to us. Excessive heat prevailed throughout the day.


  Monday, 17.—Having sat up till twelve last night, which had been my constant practice since we had taken our present guide, I awoke Mr. Mackay to watch him in turn. I then laid down to rest, and at three I was awakened to be informed that he had deserted. Mr. Mackay, with whom I was displeased on this occasion, and the Cancre, accompanied by the dog, went in search of him, but he had made his escape: a design which he had for some time meditated, though I had done every thing in my power to induce him to remain with me.

This misfortune did not produce any relaxation in our exertions. At an early hour of the morning we were all employed in cutting a passage of three quarters of a mile, through which we carried our canoe and cargo, when we put her into the water with her lading, but in a very short time were stopped by the {126}drift-wood, and were obliged to land and carry. In short, we pursued our alternate journeys, by land and water, till noon, when we could proceed no further, from the various small unnavigable channels into which the river branched in every direction; and no other mode of getting forward now remained for us, but by cutting a road across a neck of land. I accordingly dispatched two men to ascertain the exact distance, and we employed the interval of their absence in unloading and getting the canoe out of the water. It was eight in the evening when we arrived at the bank of the great river. This journey was three quarters of a mile East-North-East, through a continued swamp, where, in many places, we waded up to the middle of our thighs. Our course in the small river was about South-East by East three miles. At length we enjoyed, after all our toil and anxiety, the inexpressible satisfaction of finding ourselves on the bank of a navigable river, on the West side of the first great range of mountains.




{127}

CHAPTER VI.

JUNE, 1793.

  Tuesday, 18.—It rained throughout the night and till seven in the morning; nor was I sorry that the weather gave me an excuse for indulging my people with that additional rest, which their fatigues, during the last three days, rendered so comfortable to them. Before eight, however, we were on the water, and driven on by a strong current, when we steered East-South-East half a mile, South-West by South half a mile, South-South-East half a mile, South-West half a mile, went round to North-West half a mile, backed South-South-East three quarters of a mile, South-South-West half a mile, South by East a quarter of a mile, and South-West by South three quarters of a mile. Here the water had fallen considerably, so that several mud and sand-banks were visible. There was also a hill a-head, West-South-West.

The weather was so hazy that we could not see across the river, which is here about two hundred yards wide. We now proceeded South by West one third of a mile, when we saw a considerable quantity of beaver work along the banks, North-North-West half a {128}mile, South-West by West one mile and a half, South-South-West one third of a mile, West by South one third of a mile, South by East half a mile. Mountains rose on the left, immediately above the river, whose summits were covered with snow; South-West half a mile, South a quarter of a mile, South-East one third of a mile, South-South-West half a mile. Here are several islands; we then veered to West by South a third of a mile, South-South-East a sixth of a mile. On the right, the land is high, rocky, and covered with wood; West-South-West one mile; a small river running in from the South-East; South-West half a mile, South three quarters of a mile, South-West half a mile, South by West half a mile. Here a rocky point protrudes from the left, and narrows the river to a hundred yards; South-East half a mile, East by South one eighth of a mile. The current now was very strong, but perfectly safe; South-East by South an eighth of a mile, West by North one third of a mile, South by West a twelfth of a mile, South-West one fourth of a mile. Here the high land terminates on one side of the river, while rocks rise to a considerable height immediately above the other, and the channel widens to a hundred and fifty yards, West by South one mile. The river now narrows again between rocks of a moderate height, {129}North-North-East an eighth of a mile, veered to South-West an eighth of a mile, South and South-West half a mile. The country appeared to be low, as far as I could judge of it from the canoe, as the view is confined by woods at the distance of about a hundred yards from the banks. Our course continued West by North two miles, North half a mile, North-West a quarter of a mile, South-West two miles, North-West three quarters of a mile; when a ridge of high land appeared in this direction; West one mile. A small river flowed in from the North; South a quarter of a mile, North-West half a mile, South-South-West two miles and a half, South-East three quarters of a mile; a rivulet lost itself in the main stream, West-North-West half a mile. Here the current slackened, and we proceeded South-South-West three quarters of a mile, South-West three quarters of a mile, South by East three quarters of a mile, South-East by East one mile, when it veered gradually to West-North-West half a mile; the river being full of islands. We proceeded due North, with little current, the river presenting a beautiful sheet of water for a mile and a half, South-West by West one mile, West-North-West one mile, when it veered round to South-East one mile, West by North one mile, South-East one mile, West by North three quarters of a mile, South one eighth of {130}a mile, when we came to an Indian cabin of late erection. Here was the great fork, of which our guide had informed us, and it appeared to be the largest branch from the South-East. It is about half a mile in breadth, and assumes the form of a lake. The current was very slack, and we got into the middle of the channel, when we steered West, and sounded in sixteen feet water.

A ridge of high land now stretched on, as it were, across our present direction: this course was three miles. We then proceeded West-South-West two miles, and sounded in twenty-four feet water. Here the river narrowed and the current increased. We then continued our course North-North-West three quarters of a mile, a small river falling in from the North-East. It now veered to South by West one mile and a quarter, West-South-West four miles and a half, West by North one mile and a quarter, North-West by West one mile, West a mile and a quarter: the land was high on both sides, and the river narrowed to an hundred and fifty, or two hundred yards; North-West three quarters of a mile, South-West by South two miles and a half: here its breadth again increased; South by West one mile, West-South-West half a mile, South-West by South three miles, South-South-East one mile, with a small river running in from the left, South with a {131}strong current one mile, then East three quarters of a mile, South-West one mile, South-South-East a mile and a half; the four last distances being a continual rapid, South-West by West one mile, East-North-East a mile and a half, East-South-East one mile, where a small river flowed in on the right; South-West by South two miles and a half, when another small river appeared from the same quarter; South by East half a mile and South-West by West one mile and a quarter: here we landed for the night. When we had passed the last river we observed smoke rising from it, as if produced by fires that had been fresh lighted; I therefore concluded that there were natives on its banks: but I was unwilling to fatigue my people, by pulling back against the current in order to go in search of them.

This river appeared, from its high water-mark, to have fallen no more than one foot, while the smaller branch, from a similar measurement, had sunk two feet and a half. On our entering it, we saw a flock of ducks which were entirely white, except the bill and part of the wings. The weather was cold and raw throughout the day, and the wind South-West. We saw a smoke rising in columns from many parts of the woods, and I should have been more anxious to see the natives, if there had been any person with {132}me who could have introduced me to them; but as that object could not be then attained without considerable loss of time, I determined to pursue the navigation while it continued to be so favourable, and to wait till my return, if no very convenient opportunity offered in the mean time, to engage an intercourse with them.


  Wednesday, 19.—The morning was foggy, and at three we were on the water. At half past that hour, our course was East by South three quarters of a mile, a small river flowing in from the right. We then proceeded South by East half a mile, and South-South-West a mile and a half. During the last distance, clouds of thick smoke rose from the woods, that darkened the atmosphere, accompanied with a strong odour of the gum of cypress and the spruce-fir. Our courses continued to be South-West a mile and a quarter, North-West by West three quarters of a mile, South-South-East a mile and a quarter, East three quarters of a mile, South-West one mile, West by South three quarters of a mile, South-East by South three quarters of a mile, South by West half a mile, West by South three quarters of a mile, South by West two miles and a half. In the last course there was an island, and it appeared to me, that the main channel of the river had formerly been on the other side of it. The banks were here {133}composed of high white cliffs, crowned with pinnacles in very grotesque shapes. We continued to steer South-East by South a mile and a half, South by East half a mile, East one mile and a quarter, South-East by East one mile, South by East three quarters of a mile, South-East by East one mile, South-South-East half a mile, East one mile and a quarter, South by East half a mile, East a mile and half, South-South-East three miles, and South-West three quarters of a mile. In the last course the rocks contracted in such a manner on both sides of the river, as to afford the appearance of the upper part of a fall or cataract. Under this apprehension we landed on the left shore, where we found a kind of footpath, imperfectly traced, through which we conjectured that the natives occasionally passed with their canoes and baggage. On examining the course of the river, however, there did not appear to be any fall as we expected; but the rapids were of a considerable length and impassable for a light canoe. We had therefore no alternative but to widen the road so as to admit the passage of our canoe, which was now carried with great difficulty; as from her frequent repairs, and not always of the usual materials, her weight was such, that she cracked and broke on the shoulders of the men who bore her. The labour and fatigue of this undertaking, from eight till {134}twelve, beggars all description, when we at length conquered this afflicting passage, of about half a mile, over a rocky and most rugged hill. Our course was South-South-West. Here I took a meridian altitude which gave me 53. 42. 20. North latitude. We, however, lost some time to put our canoe in a condition to carry us onwards. Our course was South a quarter of a mile to the next carrying-place; which was nothing more than a rocky point about twice the length of the canoe. From the extremity of this point to the rocky and almost perpendicular bank that rose on the opposite shore, is not more than forty or fifty yards. The great body of water, at the same time tumbling in successive cascades along the first carrying-place, rolls through this narrow passage in a very turbid current, and full of whirlpools. On the banks of the river there was great plenty of wild onions, which when mixed up with our pemmican was a great improvement of it; though they produced a physical effect on our appetites, which was rather inconvenient to the state of our provisions.

Here we embarked, and steered South-East by East three quarters of a mile. We now saw a smoke on the shore; but before we could reach land the natives had deserted their camp, which appeared to be erected for no more than two families. My two Indians {135}were instantly dispatched in search of them, and, by following their tracks, they soon overtook them; but their language was mutually unintelligible; and all attempts to produce a friendly communication were fruitless. They no sooner perceived my young men than they prepared their bows and arrows, and made signs for them not to advance; and they thought it prudent to desist from proceeding, though not before the natives had discharged five arrows at them, which, however, they avoided, by means of the trees. When they returned with this account, I very much regretted that I had not accompanied them; and as these people could not be at any very great distance, I took Mr. Mackay, and one of the Indians with me in order to overtake them; but they had got so far it would have been imprudent in me to have followed them. My Indians, who, I believe, were terrified at the manner in which these natives received them, informed me, that, besides their bows, arrows, and spears, they were armed with long knives, and that they accompanied their strange antics with menacing actions and loud shoutings. On my return, I found my people indulging their curiosity in examining the bags and baskets which the natives had left behind them. Some of them contained their fishing tackle, such as nets, lines, &c., others of a smaller size were {136}filled with a red earth, with which they paint themselves. In several of the bags there were also sundry articles of which we did not know the use. I prevented my men from taking any of them; and for a few articles of mere curiosity, which I took myself, I left such things in exchange as would be much more useful to their owners.

At four we left this place, proceeding with the stream South-East three quarters of a mile, East-South-East one mile, South three quarters of a mile, South-South-West one mile, South by East three quarters of a mile, South-South-East one mile, South-South-West two miles, South-South-East three miles and a quarter, East by North one mile, South-South-East one mile and a quarter, with a rapid, South-South-West three quarters of a mile, South one mile and a half, South-East one mile and a quarter, South three quarters of a mile, and South-South-East one mile and a half. At half past seven we landed for the night, where a small river flowed in from the right. The weather was showery, accompanied with several loud claps of thunder. The banks were overshadowed by lofty firs, and wide-spreading cedars.


  Thursday, 20.—The morning was foggy, and at half past four we proceeded with a South wind, South-East by East two miles, South-South-East two miles and a half, and {137}South-South-West two miles. The fog was so thick, that we could not see the length of our canoe, which rendered our progress dangerous, as we might have come suddenly upon a cascade or violent rapid. Our next course was West-North-West two miles and a half, which comprehended a rapid. Being close in with the left bank of the river, we perceived two red deer at the very edge of the water: we killed one of them, and wounded the other, which was very small. We now landed, and the Indians followed the wounded animal, which they soon caught, and would have shot another in the woods, if our dog, who followed them, had not disturbed it. From the number of their tracks it appeared that they abounded in this country. They are not so large as the elk of the Peace River, but are the real red deer, which I never saw in the North, though I have been told that they are to be found in great numbers in the plains along the Red, or Assiniboin River. The bark had been stripped off many of the spruce trees, and carried away, as I presumed, by the natives, for the purpose of covering their cabins. We now got the venison on board, and continued our voyage South-West one mile, South a mile and a half, and West one mile. Here the country changed its appearance; the banks were but of a moderate height, from whence the ground continued {138}gradually rising to a considerable distance, covered with poplars and cypresses, but without any kind of underwood. There are also several low points which the river, that is here about three hundred yards in breadth, sometimes overflows, and are shaded with the liard, the soft birch, the spruce, and the willow. For some distance before we came to this part of the river, our view was confined within very rugged, irregular, and lofty banks, which were varied with the poplar, different kinds of spruce fir, small birch trees, cedars, alders, and several species of the willow. Our next course was South-West by West six miles, when we landed at a deserted house, which was the only Indian habitation of this kind that I had seen on this side of Mechilimakina. It was about thirty feet long and twenty wide, with three doors, three feet high by one foot and an half in breadth. From this and other circumstances, it appears to have been constructed for three families. There were also three fire-places, at equal distances from each other; and the beds were on either side of them. Behind the beds was a narrow space, in the form of a manger, and somewhat elevated, which was appropriated to the purpose of keeping fish. The wall of the house, which was five feet in height, was formed of very strait spruce timbers, brought close together, and laid into each other at the {139}corners. The roof was supported by a ridge pole, resting on two upright forks of about ten feet high; that and the wall support a certain number of spars, which are covered with spruce bark; and the whole attached and secured by the fibers of the cedar. One of the gable ends is closed with split boards; the other with poles. Large rods are also fixed across the upper part of the building, where fish may hang and dry. To give the walls additional strength, upright posts are fixed in the ground, at equal distances, both within and without, of the same height as the wall, and firmly attached with bark fibres. Openings appear also between the logs in the wall, for the purpose, as I conjectured, of discharging their arrows at a besieging enemy; they would be needless for the purpose of giving light, which is sufficiently afforded by fissures between the logs of the building, so that it appeared to be constructed merely for a summer habitation. There was nothing further to attract our attention in or about the house, except a large machine, which must have rendered the taking off the roof absolutely necessary, in order to have introduced it. It was of a cylindrical form, fifteen feet long, and four feet and an half in diameter; one end was square, like the head of a cask, and an conical machine was fixed inwards to the other end, of similar {140}dimensions; at the extremity of which was an opening of about seven inches in diameter. This machine was certainly contrived to set in the river, to catch large fish; and very well adapted to that purpose; as when they are once in, it must be impossible for them to get out, unless they should have strength sufficient to break through it. It was made of long pieces of split wood, rounded to the size of a small finger, and placed at the distance of an inch asunder, on six hoops; to this was added a kind of boot of the same materials, into which it may be supposed that the fish are driven, when they are to be taken out. The house was left in such apparent order as to mark the design of its owners to return thither. It answered in every particular the description given us by our late guide, except that it was not situated on an island.

We left this place, and steered South by East one mile and a quarter when we passed where there had been another house, of which the ridge-pole and supporters alone remained: the ice had probably carried away the body of it. The bank was at this time covered with water, and a small river flowed in on the left. On a point we observed an erection that had the appearance of a tomb; it was in an oblong form, covered, and very neatly walled with bark. A pole was fixed near it, to which, at the height of ten or twelve feet, a piece of {141}bark was attached, which was probably a memorial, or symbol of distinction. Our next course was South by West two miles and a half, when we saw a house on an island, South-East by East one mile and three quarters, in which we observed another island, with a house upon it. A river also flowed from the right, and the land was high and rocky, and wooded with the epinette.

Our canoe was now become so crazy that it was a matter of absolute necessity to construct another; and as from the appearance of the country there was reason to expect that bark was to be found, we landed at eight, with the hope of procuring it. I accordingly dispatched four men with that commission, and at twelve they returned with a sufficient quantity to make the bottom of a canoe of five fathom in length, and four feet and a half in height. At noon I had an observation, which gave me 53. 17. 28. North latitude.

We now continued our voyage South-East by South one mile and a half, East-South-East one mile, East-North-East half a mile, South-East two miles, South-East by South one mile, South-East six miles, and East-North-East. Here the river narrows between steep rocks, and a rapid succeeded, which was so violent that we did not venture to run it. I therefore ordered the loading to be {142}taken out of the canoe, but she was now become so heavy that the men preferred running the rapid to the carrying her overland. Though I did not altogether approve of their proposition, I was unwilling to oppose it. Four of them undertook this hazardous expedition, and I hastened to the foot of the rapid with great anxiety, to wait the event, which turned out as I expected. The water was so strong, that although they kept clear of the rocks, the canoe filled, and in this state they drove half way down the rapid, but fortunately she did not overset; and having got her into an eddy, they emptied her, and in an half-drowned condition arrived safe on shore. The carrying-place is about half a mile over, with an Indian path across it. Mr. Mackay, and the hunters, saw some deer on an island above the rapid; and had that discovery been made before the departure of the canoe, there is little doubt but we should have added a considerable quantity of venison to our stock of provisions. Our vessel was in such a wretched condition, as I have already observed, that it occasioned a delay of three hours to put her in a condition to proceed. At length we continued our former course, East-North-East a mile and a half, when we passed an extensive Indian encampment; East-South-East one mile, where a small river appeared on the left; South-East by {143}South one mile and three quarters, East by South half a mile, East by North one mile, and saw another house on an island; South half a mile, West three quarters of a mile, South-West half a mile, where the cliffs of white and red clay appeared like the ruins of ancient castles. Our canoe now veered gradually to East-North-East one mile and a half, when we landed in a storm of rain and thunder, where we perceived the remains of Indian houses. It was impossible to determine the wind in any part of the day, as it came a-head in all our directions.


  Friday, 21.—As I was very sensible of the difficulty of procuring provisions in this country, I thought it prudent to guard against any possibility of distress of that kind on our return; I therefore ordered ninety pounds weight of pemmican to be buried in a hole, sufficiently deep to admit of a fire over it without doing any injury to our hidden treasure, and which would, at the same time, secure it from the natives of the country, or the wild animals of the woods.

The morning was very cloudy, and at four o'clock we renewed our voyage, steering South by East one mile and a quarter, East-South-East half a mile, South by East one mile and a half, East half a mile, South-East two miles, where a large river flowed in from the left, and a smaller one from the right. {144}We then continued South by West three quarters of a mile, East by South a mile and a half, South three quarters of a mile, South-East by East one mile, South by East half a mile, South-East three quarters of a mile, South-East by South half a mile, South-East by East half a mile, the cliffs of blue and yellow clay, displaying the same grotesque shapes as those which we passed yesterday, South-South-East a mile and a half, South by East two miles. The latitude by observation was 52. 47. 51. North.

Here we perceived a small new canoe, that had been drawn up to the edge of the woods, and soon after another appeared, with one man in it, which came out of a small river. He no sooner saw us than he gave the whoop to alarm his friends, who immediately appeared on the bank, armed with bows and arrows, and spears. They were thinly habited, and displayed the most outrageous antics. Though they were certainly in a state of great apprehension, they manifested by their gestures that they were resolved to attack us, if we should venture to land. I therefore ordered the men to stop the way of the canoe, and even to check her drifting with the current, as it would have been extreme folly to have approached these savages before their fury had in some degree subsided. My interpreters, who understood their {145}language, informed me that they threatened us with instant death if we drew nigh the shore; and they followed the menace by discharging a volley of arrows, some of which fell short of the canoe, and others passed over it, so that they fortunately did us no injury.

As we had been carried by the current below the spot where the Indians were, I ordered my people to paddle to the opposite side of the river, without the least appearance of confusion, so that they brought me abreast of them. My interpreters, while we were within hearing, had done every thing in their power to pacify them, but in vain. We also observed that they had sent off a canoe with two men, down the river, as we concluded, to communicate their alarm, and procure assistance. This circumstance determined me to leave no means untried that might engage us in a friendly intercourse with them, before they acquired additional security and confidence, by the arrival of their relations and neighbours, to whom their situation would be shortly notified.

I therefore formed the following adventurous project, which was happily crowned with success. I left the canoe, and walked by myself along the beach, in order to induce some of the natives to come to me, which I imagined they might be disposed to do, when {146}they saw me alone, without any apparent possibility of receiving assistance from my people, and would consequently imagine that a communication with me was not a service of danger. At the same time, in order to possess the utmost security of which my situation was susceptible, I directed one of the Indians to slip into the woods, with my gun and his own, and to conceal himself from their discovery; he also had orders to keep as near me as possible, without being seen; and if any of the natives should venture across, and attempt to shoot me from the water, it was his instructions to lay him low: at the same time he was particularly enjoined not to fire till I had discharged one or both of the pistols that I carried in my belt. If, however, any of them were to land, and approach my person, he was immediately to join me. In the meantime my other interpreter assured them that we entertained the most friendly dispositions, which I confirmed by such signals as I conceived would be comprehended by them. I had not, indeed, been long at my station, and my Indian in ambush behind me, when two of the natives came off in a canoe, but stopped when they had got within a hundred yards of me. I made signs for them to land, and as an inducement, displayed looking-glasses, beads, and other alluring trinkets. At length, but with every mark of extreme {147}apprehension, they approached the shore, stern foremost, but would not venture to land. I now made them a present of some beads, with which they were going to push off, when I renewed my entreaties, and, after some time, prevailed on them to come ashore, and sit down by me. My hunter now thought it right to join me, and created some alarm in my new acquaintance. It was, however, soon removed, and I had the satisfaction to find, that he and these people perfectly understood each other. I instructed him to say every thing that might tend to soothe their fears and win their confidence. I expressed my wish to conduct them to our canoe, but they declined my offer; and when they observed some of my people coming towards us, they requested me to let them return; and I was so well satisfied with the progress I had made in my intercourse with them, that I did not hesitate a moment in complying with their desire. During their short stay, they observed us, and every thing about us, with a mixture of admiration and astonishment. We could plainly distinguish that their friends received them with great joy on their return, and that the articles which they carried back with them were examined with a general and eager curiosity; they also appeared to hold a consultation, which lasted about a quarter of an hour, and the result was, an invitation to {148}come over to them, which was cheerfully accepted. Nevertheless, on our landing they betrayed evident signs of confusion, which arose probably from the quickness of our movements, as the prospect of a friendly communication had so cheered the spirits of my people, that they paddled across the river with the utmost expedition. The two men, however, who had been with us, appeared, very naturally, to possess the greatest share of courage on the occasion, and were ready to receive us on our landing; but our demeanour soon dispelled all their apprehensions, and the most familiar communication took place between us. When I had secured their confidence, by the distribution of trinkets among them, and treated the children with sugar, I instructed my interpreters to collect every necessary information in their power to afford me.

According to their account, this river, whose course is very extensive, runs towards the mid-day sun; and that at its mouth, as they had been informed, white people were building houses. They represented its current to be uniformly strong, and that in three places it was altogether impassable, from the falls and rapids, which poured along between perpendicular rocks that were much higher, and more rugged, than any we had yet seen, and would not admit of any passage over {149}them. But besides the dangers and difficulties of the navigation, they added, that we should have to encounter the inhabitants of the country, who were very numerous. They also represented their immediate neighbours as a very malignant race, who lived in large subterraneous recesses; and when they were made to understand that it was our design to proceed to the sea, they dissuaded us from prosecuting our intention, as we should certainly become a sacrifice to the savage spirit of the natives. These people they described as possessing iron, arms, and utensils, which they procured from their neighbours to the Westward, and were obtained by a commercial progress from people like ourselves, who brought them in great canoes.

Such an account of our situation, exaggerated as it might be in some points, and erroneous in others, was sufficiently alarming, and awakened very painful reflections: nevertheless it did not operate on my mind so as to produce any change in my original determination. My first object, therefore, was to persuade two of these people to accompany me, that they might secure to us a favourable reception from their neighbours. To this proposition they assented, but expressed some degree of dissatisfaction at the immediate departure, for which we were making preparation; but when we were ready to enter the {150}canoe, a small one was seen doubling the point below, with three men in it. We thought it prudent to wait for their arrival, and they proved to be some of their relations, who had received the alarm from the messengers which I have already mentioned as having been sent down the river for that purpose, and who had passed on, as we were afterwards informed, to extend the notice of our arrival. Though these people saw us in the midst of their friends, they displayed the most menacing actions, and hostile postures. At length, however, this wild, savage spirit appeared to subside, and they were persuaded to land. One of them, who was a middle aged person, whose agitations had been less frequent than those of his companions, and who was treated with particular respect by them all, inquired who we were, whence we came, whither we were going, and what was the motive of our coming into that country. When his friends had satisfied him as far as they were able, respecting us, he instantly advised us to delay our departure for that night, as their relations below, having been by this time alarmed by the messengers, who had been sent for that purpose, would certainly oppose our passage, notwithstanding I had two of their own people with me. He added, that they would all of them be here by sunset, they would convinced, as he was, {151}that we were good people, and meditated no ill designs against them.

Such were the reasons which this Indian urged in favour of our remaining till the next morning; and they were too well founded for me to hesitate in complying with them; besides, by prolonging my stay till the next morning, it was probable that I might obtain some important intelligence respecting the country through which I was to pass, and the people who inhabited it. I accordingly ordered the canoe to be unloaded, taken out of the water, and gummed. My tent was also pitched, and the natives were now become so familiar, that I was obliged to let them know my wish to be alone and undisturbed.

My first application to the native whom I have already particularly mentioned, was to obtain from him such a plan of the river as he should be enabled to give me; and he complied with this request with a degree of readiness and intelligence that evidently proved it was by no means a new business to him. In order to acquire the best information he could communicate, I assured him, if I found his account correct, that I should either return myself, or send others to them, with such articles as they appeared to want: particularly arms and ammunition, with which they would be able to prevent their enemies from invading them. I obtained, however, {152}no addition to what I already knew, but that the country below us, as far as he was acquainted with it, abounded in animals, and that the river produced plenty of fish.

Our canoe was now become so weak, leaky, and unmanageable, that it became a matter of absolute necessity to construct a new one; and I had been informed, that if we delayed that important work till we got further down the river, we should not be able to procure bark. I therefore dispatched two of my people, with an Indian, in search of that necessary material. The weather was so cloudy that I could not get an observation.[1]

I passed the rest of the day in conversing with these people: they consisted of seven families, containing eighteen men, they were clad in leather, and handsome beaver and rabbit-skin blankets. They had not been long arrived in this part of the country, where they proposed to pass the summer, to catch fish for their winter provision: for this purpose they were preparing machines similar to that which we found in the first Indian house we saw and described. The fish which they take in them are large, and only visit this part of the river at certain seasons. These people differ very little, if at all, either in their appearance, language, or manners, from {153}the Rocky-Mountain Indians. The men whom I sent in search of bark, returned with a certain quantity of it, but of a very indifferent kind. We were not gratified with the arrival of any of the natives whom we expected from a lower part of the river.

[1]The observation, already mentioned, I got on my return.




{154}

CHAPTER VII.

JUNE, 1793.

  Saturday, 22.—At six in the morning we proceeded on our voyage, with two of the Indians, one of them in a small pointed canoe, made after the fashion of the Esquimaux, and the other in our own. This precaution was necessary in a two-fold point of view, as the small canoe could be sent ahead to speak to any of the natives that might be seen down the river, and, thus divided, would not be easy for them both to make their escape. Mr. Mackay also embarked with the Indian, which seemed to afford him great satisfaction, and he was thereby enabled to keep us company with diminution of labour.

Our courses were South-South-East a mile and a half, South-East half a mile, South by East four miles and a half, South-East by South half a mile, South by West half a mile, South-East by East one mile, South-South-West a mile and a half, South by East one mile and a quarter. The country, on the right, presented a very beautiful appearance: it rose at first rather abruptly to the height of twenty-five feet, when the precipice was succeeded by an inclined plain to the foot of {155}another steep; which was followed by another extent of gently-rising ground: these objects, which were shaded with groves of fir, presenting themselves alternately to a considerable distance.

We now landed near a house, the roof of which alone appeared above ground; but it was deserted by its inhabitants who had been alarmed at our approach. We observed several men in the second steep, who displayed the same postures and menacing actions as those which we have so lately described. Our conductors went to them immediately on an embassy of friendship, and, after a very vociferous discourse, one of them was persuaded to come to us, but presented a very ferocious aspect: the rest, who were seven in number, soon followed his example. They held their bows and arrows in their hands, and appeared in their garments, which were fastened round the neck, but left the right arm free for action. A cord fastened a blanket or leather covering under the right armpit, so that it hung upon the left shoulder, and might be occasionally employed as a target, that would turn an arrow which was nearly spent. As soon as they had recovered from their apprehensions, ten women made their appearance, but without any children, whom, I imagine, they had sent to a greater distance, to be out of reach of all possible {156}danger. I distributed a few presents among them, and left my guides to explain to them the object of my journey, and the friendliness of my designs, with which they had themselves been made acquainted; their fears being at length removed, I gave them a specimen of the use to which we applied our firearms: at the same time, I calmed their astonishment, by the assurance, that, though we could at once destroy those who did us injury, we could equally protect those who shewed us kindness. Our stay here did not exceed half an hour, and we left these people with favourable impressions of us.

From this place we steered East by North half a mile, South by East three quarters of a mile, and South by West a mile and a half, when we landed again on seeing some of the natives on the high ground, whose appearance was more wild and ferocious than any whom we had yet seen. Indeed I was under some apprehension that our guides, who went to conciliate them to us, would have fallen a prey to their savage fury. At length, however, they were persuaded to entertain a more favourable opinion of us, and they approached us one after another, to the number of sixteen men, and several women, I shook hands with them all, and desired my interpreters to explain that salutation as a token of friend-ship. As this was not a place where we could {157}remain with the necessary convenience, I proposed to proceed further, in search of a more commodious spot. They immediately invited us to pass the night at their lodges, which were at no great distance, and promised, at the same time, that they would, in the morning, send two young men to introduce us to the next nation, who were very numerous, and ill-disposed towards strangers. As we were pushing from the shore, we were very much surprised at hearing a woman pronounce several words in the Knisteneaux language. She proved to be a Rocky Mountain native, so that my interpreters perfectly understood her. She informed us that her country is at the forks of this river, and that she had been taken prisoner by the Knisteneaux, who had carried her across the mountains. After having passed the greatest part of the summer with them, she had contrived to escape, before they had reached their own country, and had re-crossed the mountains, when she expected to meet her own friends: but after suffering all the hardships incident to such a journey, she had been taken by a war-party of the people with whom she then was, who had driven her relations from the river into the mountains. She had since been detained by her present husband, of whom she had no cause to complain; nevertheless she expressed a strong desire to return to her own people. {158}I presented her with several useful articles, and desired her to come to me at the lodges, which she readily engaged to do. We arrived thither before the Indians, and landed, as we had promised. It was now near twelve at noon, but on attempting to take an altitude, I found the angle too great for my sextant.

The natives whom we had already seen, and several others, soon joined us, with a greater number of women than I had yet seen; but I did not observe the female prisoner among them. There were thirty-five of them, and my remaining store of presents was not sufficient to enable me to be very liberal to so many claimants. Among the men I found four of the adjoining nation, and a Rocky-Mountain Indian, who had been with them for some time. As he was understood by my interpreters, and was himself well acquainted with the language of the strangers, I possessed the means of obtaining every information respecting the country, which it might be in their power to afford me. For this purpose I selected an elderly man, from the four strangers, whose countenance had prepossessed me in his favour. I stated to these people, as I had already done to those from whom I had hitherto derived information, the objects of my voyage, and the very great advantages which they would receive from my successful termination of it. They {159}expressed themselves very much satisfied at my communication, and assured me that they would not deceive me respecting the subject of my inquiry. An old man also, who appeared to possess the character of a chief, declared his wish to see me return to his land, and that his two young daughters should then be at my disposal. I now proceeded to request the native, whom I had particularly selected, to commence his information, by drawing a sketch of the country upon a large piece of bark, and he immediately entered on the work, frequently appealing to, and sometimes asking the advice of, those around him. He described the river as running to the East of South, receiving many rivers, and every six or eight leagues encumbered with falls and rapids, some of which were very dangerous, and six of them impracticable. The carrying-places he represented as of great length, and passing over hills and mountains. He depicted the lands of three other tribes, in succession, who spoke different languages. Beyond them he knew nothing either of the river or country, only that it was still a long way to the sea; and that, as he had heard, there was a lake, before they reached the water, which the natives did not drink. As far as his knowledge of the river extended, the country on either side was level, in many places without wood and abounding in red {160}deer, and some of a small fallow kind. Few of the natives, he said, would come to the banks for some time; but, that at a certain season they would arrive there in great numbers, to fish. They now procured iron, brass, copper, and trinkets, from the Westward; but formerly these articles were obtained from the lower parts of the river, though in small quantities. A knife was produced which had been brought from that quarter. The blade was ten inches long, and an inch and a half broad, but with a very blunted edge. The handle was of horn. We understood that this instrument had been obtained from white men, long before they had heard that any came to the Westward. One very old man observed, that as long as he could remember, he was told of white people to the Southward; and that he had heard, though he did not vouch for the truth of the report, that one of them had made an attempt to come up the river, and was destroyed.

These people describe the distance across the country as very short to the Western ocean; and, according to my own idea, it cannot be above five or six degrees. If the assertion of Mr. Mears be correct, it cannot be so far, as the inland sea which he mentions within Nootka, must come as far East as 126. West longitude. They assured us that the road was not difficult as they avoided the {161}mountains, keeping along the low lands between them, many parts of which are entirely free from wood. According to their account, this way is so often travelled by them, that their path is visible throughout the whole journey, which lies along small lakes and rivers. It occupied them, they said, no more than six nights, to go to where they meet the people who barter iron, brass, copper, beads, &c., with them, for dressed leather, and beaver, bear, lynx, fox, and marten skins. The iron is about eighteen inches of two-inch bar. To this they give an edge at one end, and fix it to a handle at right angles, which they employ as an axe. When the iron is worn down, they fabricate it into points for their arrows and pikes. Before they procured iron they employed bone and horn for those purposes. The copper and brass they convert into collars, arm-buds, bracelets, and other ornaments. They sometimes also point their arrows with those metals. They had been informed by those whom they meet to trade with, that the white people, from whom these articles are obtained, were building houses at the distance of three days, or two nights journey from the place where they met last fall. With this route they all appeared to be well acquainted.

I now requested that they would send for {162}the female prisoner whom I saw yesterday; but I received only vague and evasive answers. They probably apprehended, that it was our design to take her from them. I was, however, very much disappointed at being prevented from having an interview with her, as she might have given me a correct account of the country beyond the forks of the river, as well as of the pass, through the mountains, from them.

My people had listened with great attention to the relation which had been given me, and it seemed to be their opinion, that it would be absolute madness to attempt a passage through so many savage and barbarous nations. My situation may indeed, be more easily conceived than expressed: I had no more than thirty days provision remaining, exclusive of such supplies as I might obtain from the natives, and the toil of our hunters, which, however, was so precarious as to be matter of little dependence: besides, our ammunition would soon be exhausted, particularly our ball, of which we had not more than a hundred and fifty, and about thirty pound weight of shot, which, indeed, might be converted into bullets, though with great waste.

The more I heard of the river, the more I was convinced it could not empty itself into the ocean to the North of what is called the river of the West, so that with its windings, {163}the distance must be very great. Such being the discouraging circumstances of my situation, which were now heightened by the discontents of my people, I could not but be alarmed at the idea of attempting to get to the discharge of such a rapid river, especially when I reflected on the tardy progress of my return up it, even if I should meet with no obstruction from the natives; a circumstance not very probable, from the numbers of them which would then be on the river, and whom I could have no opportunity of conciliating in my passage down, for the reasons which have been already mentioned. At all events, I must give up every expectation of returning this season to Athabasca. Such were my reflections at this period; but instead of continuing to indulge them, I determined to proceed with resolution, and set future events at defiance. At the same time I suffered myself to nourish the hope that I might be able to penetrate with more safety, and in a shorter period, to the ocean by the inland western communication.

To carry this project into execution I must have returned a considerable distance up the river, which would necessarily be attended with very, serious inconvenience, if I passed over every other; as in a voyage of this kind, a retrograde motion could not fail to cool the ardour, slacken the zeal and weaken the {164}confidence of those, who have no greater inducement to the undertaking, than to follow the conductor of it. Such was the state of my mind at this period, and such the circumstances with which it was distressed and distracted.

To the people who had given me the foregoing information I presented some beads, which they preferred to any other articles in my possession, and I recompensed in the same manner two of them who communicated to me the following vocabulary in the language of the Nagailer and Atnah tribes.

The Nagailer or
Carrier-Indians.
The Atnah, or
Chin-Indians.
Eye, Nah, Thlouatin.
Hair, Thigah, Cahowdin.
Teeth, Gough, Chliough.
Nose, Nenzeh, Pisax.
Head, Thie, Scapacay.
Wood, Dekin, Shedzay.
Hand, Lah, Calietha.
Leg, Kin, Squacht.
Tongue, Thoula, Dewhasjiak.
Ear, Zach, Ithlinah.
Man, Dinay, Scuyloch.
Woman, Chiquoi, Smosledgenak.
Beaver, Zah, Schugh.
Elk, Yezey, Ookoy-Beh.
Dog, Sleing, Scacah.
Ground-hog, Thidnu, Squaisquais.
Iron, Thilisitch, Soucoumang.
Fire, Coun, Teuck.
Water, Tou, Shaweliquolih.
{165} Stone, Zeh, Ishehoinah.
Bow, Nettuny, Isquoinah.
Arrow, Igah, Squailai.
Yes, Nesi, Amaig.
Plains, Thoughoud, Spilela.
Come here, Andezei, Thla-elyeh.

The Atnah language has no affinity to any with which I am acquainted; but the Nagailer differs very little from that spoken by the Beaver Indians, and is almost the same as that of the Chepewyans.

We had a thunder-storm with heavy rain; and in the evening when it had subsided, the Indians amused us with singing and dancing, in which they were joined by the young women. Four men now arrived whom we had not yet seen; they had left their families at some distance in the country, and expressed a desire that we should visit them there.


  Sunday, 23.—After a restless night, I called the Indians together, from whom I yesterday received the intelligence which has been already mentioned, in the hope that I might obtain some additional information. From their former account they did not make the least deviation; but they informed me further, that where they left this river, a small one from the Westward falls into it, which was navigable for their canoes during {166}four days, and from thence they slept but two nights, to get to the people with whom they trade, and who have wooden canoes much larger than ours, in which they go down a river to the sea. They continued to inform me, that if I went that way we must leave our own canoe behind us; but they thought it probable that those people would furnish us with another. From thence they stated the distance to be only one day's voyage with the current to the lake whose water is nauseous, and where they had heard that great canoes came two winters ago, and that the people belonging to them, brought great quantities of goods and built houses.

At the commencement of this conversation, I was very much surprised by the following question from one of the Indians: "What," demanded he, "can be the reason that you are so particular and anxious in your inquiries of us respecting a knowledge of this country: do not you white men know every thing in the world?" This interrogatory was so very unexpected, that it occasioned some hesitation before I could answer it. At length, however, I replied, that we certainly were acquainted with the principal circumstances of every part of the world; that I knew where the sea is, and where I myself then was, but that I did not exactly understand what obstacles might interrupt me in getting {167}to it; with which, he and his relations must be well acquainted, as they had so frequently surmounted them. Thus I fortunately preserved the impression in their minds, of the superiority of white people over themselves.

It was now, however, absolutely necessary that I should come to a final determination which route to take; and no long interval of reflection was employed, before I preferred to go over land: the comparative shortness and security of such a journey, were alone sufficient to determine me. I accordingly proposed to two of the Indians to accompany me, and one of them readily assented to my proposition.

I now called those of my people about me, who had not been present at my consultation with the natives; and after passing a warm eulogium on their fortitude, patience, and perseverance, I stated the difficulties that threatened our continuing to navigate the river, the length of time it would require, and the scanty provision we had for such a voyage: I then proceeded for the foregoing reasons to propose a shorter route, by trying the overland road to the sea. At the same time, as I knew from experience, the difficulty of retaining guides, and as many circumstances might occur to prevent our progress in that direction, I declared my resolution not to attempt it, unless they would {168}engage if we could not after all proceed over land, to return with me, and continue our voyage to the discharge of the waters, whatever the distance might be. At all events, I declared, in the most solemn manner, that I would not abandon my design of reaching the sea, if I made the attempt alone, and that I did not despair of returning in safety to my friends.

This proposition met with the most zealous return, and they unanimously assured me, that they were as willing now as they had ever been, to abide by my resolutions, whatever they might be, and to follow me wherever I should go. I therefore requested them to prepare for an immediate departure, and at the same time gave notice to the man who had engaged to be our guide, to be in readiness to accompany us. When our determination to return up the river was made known, several of the natives took a very abrupt departure; but to those who remained, I gave a few useful articles, explaining to them at the same time, the advantages that would result to them, if their relations conducted me to the sea, along such a road as they had described. I had already given a moose skin to some of the women for the purpose of making shoes, which were now brought us; they were well sewed but ill-shaped, and a few beads were considered as a sufficient {169}remuneration for the skill employed on them, Mr. Mackay, by my desire, engraved my name, and the date of the year on a tree.

When we were ready to depart, our guide proposed, for the sake of expedition, to go over land to his lodge, that he might get there before us, to make some necessary preparation for his journey. I did not altogether relish his design, but was obliged to consent: I thought it prudent, however, to send Mr. Mackay, and the two Indians along with him. Our place of rendezvous, was the subterraneous house which we passed yesterday.

At ten in the morning we embarked, and went up the current much faster than I expected with such a crazy vessel as that which carried us. We met our people at the house as had been appointed; but the Indian still continued to prefer going on by land, and it would have been needless for me to oppose him. He proceeded, therefore, with his former companions, whom I desired to keep him in good humour by every reasonable gratification. They were also furnished with a few articles that might be of use if they should meet strangers.

In a short time after we had left the house, I saw a wooden canoe coming down the river, with three natives in it, who, as soon as they perceived us, made for the shore, and hurried {170}into the woods. On passing their vessel, we discovered it to be one of those which we had seen at the lodges. A severe gust of wind, with rain, came from the South-South-East. This we found to be a very prevalent wind in these parts. We soon passed another wooden canoe drawn stern foremost on the shore; a circumstance which we had not hitherto observed. The men worked very hard, and though I imagined we went a-head very fast, we could not reach the lodges, but landed for the night at nine, close to the encampment of two families of the natives whom we had formerly seen at the lodges. I immediately went and sat down with them, when they gave some roasted fish; two of my men who followed me were gratified also with some of their provisions. The youngest of the two natives now quitted the shed, and did not return during the time I remained there. I endeavoured to explain to the other by signs, the cause of my sudden return, which he appeared to understand. In the mean time my tent was pitched, and on my going to it, I was rather surprised that he did not follow me, as he had been constantly with me during the day and night I had passed with his party on going down. We, however, went to rest in a state of perfect security; nor had we the least apprehension for the safety of our people who were gone by land.

{171}We were in our canoe by four this morning, and passed by the Indian hut, which appeared in a state of perfect tranquillity. We soon came in sight of the point where we first saw the natives, and at eight were much surprised and disappointed at seeing Mr. Mackay, and our two Indians coming alone from the ruins of a house that had been partly carried away by the ice and water, at a short distance below the place where we had appointed to meet. Nor was our surprise and apprehension diminished by the alarm which was painted in their countenances. When we had landed, they informed me that they had taken refuge in that place, with the determination to sell their lives, which they considered in the most imminent danger, as dear as possible. In a very short time after they had left us, they met a party of the Indians, whom we had known at this place, and were probably those whom we had seen to land from their canoe. They appeared to be in a state of extreme rage, and had their bows bent, with their arrows across them. The guide stopped to ask them some questions, which my people did not understand, and then set off with his utmost speed. Mr. Mackay, however, did not leave him till they were both exhausted with running. When the young man came up, he then said, that some treacherous design was meditated against them, as he was induced to {172}believe from the declaration of the natives, who told him that they were going to do mischief, but refused to name the enemy. The guide then conducted them through very bad ways, as fast as they could run; and when he was desired to slacken his pace, he answered that they might follow him in any manner they pleased, but that he was impatient to get to his family, in order to prepare shoes, and other necessaries, for his journey. They did not, however, think it prudent to quit him, and he would not stop till ten at night. On passing a track that was but lately made, they began to be seriously alarmed, and on inquiring of the guide where they were, he pretended not to understand them. They then all laid down, exhausted with fatigue, and without any kind of covering: they were cold, wet, and hungry, but dared not light a fire, from the apprehension of an enemy. This comfortless spot they left at the dawn of the day, and, on their arrival at the lodges, found them deserted; the property of the Indians being scattered about, as if abandoned for ever. The guide then made two or three trips into the woods, calling aloud, and bellowing like a madman. At length he set off in the same direction as they came, and had not since appeared. To heighten their misery, as they did not find us at the place appointed, they concluded that we were {173}all destroyed, and had already formed their plan to take to the woods, and cross in as direct a line as they could proceed, to the waters of the Peace River, a scheme which could only be suggested by despair. They intended to have waited for us till noon, and if we did not appear by that time, to have entered without further delay on their desperate expedition.

This alarm among the natives was a very unexpected as well as perilous event, and my powers of conjecture were exhausted in searching for the cause of it. A general panic seized all around me, and any further prosecution of the voyage was now considered by them as altogether hopeless and impracticable. But without paying the least attention to their opinions or surmises, I ordered them to take every thing out of the canoe, except six packages: when that was done, I left four men to take care of the lading, and returned with the others to our camp of last night, where I hoped to find the two men, with their families, whom we had seen there, and to be able to bring them to lodge with us, when I should wait the issue of this mysterious business. This project, however, was disappointed, for these people had quitted their sheds in the silence of the night, and had not taken a single article of their little property with them.

{174}These perplexing circumstances made a deep impression on my mind, not as to our immediate safety, for I entertained not the least apprehension of the Indians I had hitherto seen, even if their whole force should have been combined to attack us, but these untoward events seemed to threaten the prosecution of my journey; and I could not reflect on the possibility of such a disappointment but with sensations little short of agony. Whatever might have been the wavering disposition of the people on former occasions, they were now decided in their opinions as to the necessity of returning without delay; and when we came back to them, their cry was—"Let us re-embark, and be gone." This, however, was not my design, and in a more peremptory tone than I usually employed, they were ordered to unload the canoe, and take her out of the water. On examining our property, several articles appeared to be missing, which the Indians must have purloined; and among them were an axe, two knives, and the young men's bag of medicines. We now took a position that was the best calculated for defence, got our arms in complete order, filled each man's flask of powder, and distributed an hundred bullets, which were all that remained, while some were employed in melting down shot to make more. The weather was so cloudy,

{175}that I had not an opportunity of taking an observation.

While we were employed in making these preparations, we saw an Indian in a canoe come down the river, and land at the huts, which he began to examine. On perceiving us he stood still, as if in a state of suspense, when I instantly dispatched one of my Indians towards him, but no persuasions could induce him to have confidence in us; he even threatened that he would hasten to join his friends, who would come and kill us. At the conclusion of this menace he disappeared. On the return of my young man, with this account of the interview, I pretended to discredit the whole, and attributed it to his own apprehensions and alarms. This, however, he denied, and asked with a look and tone of resentment, whether he had ever told me a lie? Though he was but a young man, he said, he had been on war excursions before he came with me, and that he should no longer consider me as a wise man, which he had hitherto done.

To add to our distresses we had not an ounce of gum for the reparation of the canoe, and not one of the men had sufficient courage to venture into the woods to collect it. In this perplexing situation I entertained the hope that in the course of the night some of the natives would return, to take away a part

{176}at least of the things which they had left behind them, as they had gone away without the covering necessary to defend them from the weather and the flies. I therefore ordered the canoe to be loaded, and dropped to an old house, one side of which, with its roof, had been carried away by the water; but the three remaining angles were sufficient to shelter us from the woods. I then ordered two strong piquets to be driven into the ground, to which the canoe was fastened, so that if we were hard pressed we had only to step on board and push off. We were under the necessity of making a smoke to keep off the swarms of flies, which would have otherwise tormented us; but we did not venture to excite a blaze, as it would have been a mark for the arrows of the enemy. Mr. Mackay and myself, with three men kept alternate watch, and allowed the Indians to do as they fancied. I took the first watch, and the others laid down in their clothes by us. I also placed a centinel at a small distance, who was relieved every hour. The weather was cloudy, with showers of rain.


  Tuesday, 25.—At one I called up the other watch, and laid down to a small portion of broken rest. At five I arose, and as the situation which we left yesterday was preferable to that which we then occupied, I determined to return to it. On our arrival Mr. Mackay

{177}informed me that the men had expressed their dissatisfaction to him in a very unreserved manner, and had in very strong terms declared their resolution to follow me no further in my proposed enterprise. I did not appear, however, to have received such communications from him, and continued to employ my whole thoughts in contriving means to bring about a reconciliation with the natives, which alone would enable me to procure guides, without whose assistance it would be impossible for me to proceed, when my darling project would end in disappointment.

At twelve we saw a man coming with the stream upon a raft, and he must have discovered us before we perceived him, as he was working very hard to get to the opposite shore, where he soon landed, and instantly fled into the woods. I now had a meridional altitude, which gave 60. 23. natural horizon (the angle being more than the sextant could measure with the artificial horizon) one mile and a half distant; and the eye five feet above the level of the water, gave 62. 47. 51. North latitude.

While I was thus employed, the men loaded the canoe, without having received any orders from me, and as this was the first time they had ventured to act in such a decided manner, I naturally concluded that they had

{178}preconcerted a plan for their return. I thought it prudent, however, to take no notice of this transaction, and to wait the issue of future circumstances. At this moment our Indians perceived a person in the edge of the woods above us, and they were immediately dispatched to discover who it was. After a short absence they returned with a young woman whom we had seen before: her language was not clearly comprehended by us, so that we could not learn from her, at least with any degree of certainty, the cause of this unfortunate alarm that had taken place among the natives. She told us that her errand was to fetch some things which she had left behind her; and one of the dogs whom we found here, appeared to acknowledge her as his mistress. We treated her with great kindness, gave her something to eat, and added a present of such articles as we thought might please her. On her expressing a wish to leave us, we readily consented to her departure, and indulged the hope that her reception would induce the natives to return in peace, and give us an opportunity to convince them, that we had no hostile designs whatever against them. On leaving us, she went up the river, without taking a single article of her own, and the dog followed. The wind was changeable throughout the day, and

{179}there were several showers in the course of it.

Though a very apparent anxiety prevailed among the people for their departure, I appeared to be wholly inattentive to it, and at eight in the evening I ordered four men to step into the canoe, which had been loaded for several hours, and drop down to our guard-house, and my command was immediately obeyed: the rest of us proceeded there by land. When I was yet at a considerable distance from the house, and thought it impossible for an arrow to reach it, having a bow and quiver in my hand, I very imprudently let fly an arrow, when, to my astonishment and infinite alarm, I heard it strike a log of the house. The men who had just landed, imagined that they were attacked by an enemy from the woods. Their confusion was in proportion to their imaginary danger, and on my arrival I found that the arrow had passed within a foot of one of the men; though it had no point, the weapon, incredible as it may appear, had entered an hard, dry log of wood upwards of an inch. But this was not all: for the men readily availed themselves of this circumstance, to remark upon the danger of remaining in the power of a people possessed of such means of destruction. Mr. Mackay having the first watch, I laid myself down in my cloak.


{180}  Wednesday, 26.—At midnight a rustling noise was heard in the woods which created a general alarm, and I was awakened to be informed of the circumstance, but heard nothing. At one I took my turn of the watch, and our dog continued unceasingly to run backwards and forwards along the skirts of the wood in a state of restless vigilance. At two in the morning the centinel informed me, that he saw something like an human figure creeping along on all-fours about fifty paces above us. After some time had passed in our search, I at length discovered that his information was true, and it appeared to me that a bear had occasioned the alarm; but when day appeared, it proved to be an old, grey-haired, blind man, who had been compelled to leave his hiding-place by extreme hunger, being too infirm to join in the flight of the natives to whom he belonged. When I put my hand on this object of decaying nature, his alarm was so great, that I expected it would have thrown him into convulsions. I immediately led him to our fire which had been just lighted, and gave him something to eat, which he much wanted, as he had not tasted food for two days. When his hunger was satisfied, and he had got warm and composed, I requested him to acquaint me with the cause of that alarm which had taken place respecting us among his relations and friends, {181}whose regard we appeared to have conciliated but a few days past. He replied, that very soon after we had left them, some natives arrived from above, who informed them that we were enemies; and our unexpected return, in direct contradiction to our own declarations, confirmed them in that opinion. They were now, he said, so scattered, that a considerable time would elapse, before they could meet again. We gave him the real history of our return, as well as of the desertion of our guide, and, at the same time, stated the impossibility of our proceeding, unless we procured a native to conduct us. He replied, that if he had not lost his sight, he would with the greatest readiness have accompanied us on our journey. He also confirmed the accounts which we had received of the country, and the route to the Westward. I did not neglect to employ every argument in my power, that he might be persuaded of our friendly dispositions to the inhabitants wheresoever we might meet them.

At sun-rise we perceived a canoe with one man in it on the opposite side of the river, and at our request, the blind man called to him to come to us, but he returned no answer, and continued his course as fast as he could paddle down the current. He was considered as a spy by my men, and I was confirmed in that opinion, when I saw a wooden canoe {182}drifting with the stream close in to the other shore, where it was more than probable that some of the natives might be concealed. It might, therefore, have been an useless enterprise, or perhaps fatal to the future success of our undertaking, if we had pursued these people, as they might, through fear have employed their arms against us, and provoked us to retaliate.

The old man informed me, that some of the natives whom I had seen here were gone up the river, and those whom I saw below had left their late station to gather a root in the plains, which, when dried, forms a considerable article in their winter stock of provisions. He had a woman, he said, with him, who used to see us walking along the small adjoining river, but when he called her he received no answer, so that she had probably fled to join her people. He informed me, also, that he expected a considerable number of his tribe to come on the upper part of the river to catch fish for their present support, and to cure them for their winter store; among whom he had a son and two brothers.

In consequence of these communications, I deemed it altogether unnecessary to lose any more time at this place, and I informed the old man that he must accompany me for the purpose of introducing us to his friends and {183}relations, and that if we met with his son or brothers, I depended upon him to persuade them, or some of their party, to attend us as guides in our meditated expedition. He expressed his wishes to be excused from this service, and in other circumstances we should not have insisted on it, but, situated as we were, we could not yield to his request.

At seven in the morning we left this place, which I named Deserter's River or Creek. Our blind guide was, however, so averse to continuing with us, that I was under the very disagreeable necessity of ordering the men to carry him into the canoe; and this was the first act during my voyage, that had the semblance of violent dealing. He continued to speak in a very loud tone, while he remained, according to his conjecture, near enough to the camp to be heard, but in a language that our interpreters did not understand. On asking him what he said, and why he did not speak in a language known to us, he replied, that the woman understood him better in that which he spoke, and he requested her, if she heard him, to come for him to the carrying-place, where he expected we should leave him.

At length our canoe was become so leaky, that it was absolutely unfit for service; and it was the unremitting employment of one person to keep her clear of water: we, therefore, inquired of the old man where we could {184}conveniently obtain the articles necessary to build a new one; and we understood from him that, at some distance up the river, we should find plenty of bark and cedar.

At ten, being at the foot of a rapid, we saw a small canoe coming down with two men in it. We thought it would be impossible for them to escape, and therefore struck off from the shore with a design to intercept them, directing the old man at the same time to address them; but they no sooner perceived us, than they steered into the strength of the current, where I thought that they must inevitably perish; but their attention appeared to be engrossed by the situation of their canoe, and they escaped without making us the least reply.

About three in the afternoon we perceived a lodge at the entrance of a considerable river on the right, as well as the tracks of people in the mud at the mouth of a small river on the left. As they appeared to be fresh, we landed, and endeavoured to trace them, but without success. We then crossed over to the lodge, which was deserted, but all the usual furniture of such buildings remained untouched.

Throughout the whole of this day the men had been in a state of extreme ill-humour, and as they did not choose openly to vent it upon me, they disputed and quarrelled among {185}themselves. About sun-set the canoe struck upon the stump of a tree, which broke a large hole in her bottom; a circumstance that gave them an opportunity to let loose their discontents without reserve. I left them as soon as we had landed, and ascended an elevated bank, in a state of mind which I scarce wish to recollect, and shall not attempt to describe. At this place there was a subterraneous house, where I determined to pass the night. The water had risen since we had passed down, and it was with the utmost exertion that we came up several points in the course of the day.

We embarked at half past four, with very favourable weather, and at eight we landed, where there was an appearance of our being able to procure bark; we, however, obtained but a small quantity. At twelve we went on shore again, and collected as much as was necessary for our purpose. It now remained for us to fix on a proper place for building another canoe, as it was impossible to proceed with our old one, which was become an absolute wreck. At five in the afternoon we came to a spot well adapted to the business in which we were about to engage. It was on a small island not much encumbered with wood, though there was plenty of the spruce kind on the opposite land, which was only divided from us by a small channel. We now {186}landed, but before the canoe was unloaded, and the tent pitched, a violent thunder-storm came on, accompanied with rain, which did not subside till the night had closed in upon us. Two of our men who had been in the woods for axe-handles, saw a deer, and one of them shot at it, but unluckily missed his aim. A net was also prepared and set in the eddy at the end of the island.




{187}

CHAPTER VIII.

JUNE, 1793.

  Friday, 28.—At a very early hour of the morning every man was employed in making preparations for building another canoe, and different parties went in search of wood, watape, and gum. At two in the afternoon they all returned successful, except the collectors of gum, and of that article it was feared we should not obtain here a sufficient supply for our immediate wants. After a necessary portion of time allotted for refreshment, each began his respective work. I had an altitude at noon, which made us in 53. 2. 32. North latitude.


  Saturday, 29.—The weather continued to be fine. At five o'clock we renewed our labour, and the canoe was got in a state of considerable forwardness. The conductor of the work, though a good man, was remarkable for the tardiness of his operations, whatever they might be, and more disposed to eat than to be active; I therefore took this opportunity of unfolding my sentiments to him, and thereby discovering to all around me the real state of my mind, and the resolutions I had formed for my future conduct. After reproaching {188}him for his general inactivity, but particularly on the present occasion, when our time was so precious, I mentioned the apparent want of economy, both of himself and his companions, in the article of provisions. I informed him that I was not altogether a stranger to their late conversations, from whence I drew the conclusion that they wished to put an end to the voyage. If that were so, I expressed my wish that they would be explicit, and tell me at once of their determination to follow me no longer. I concluded, however, by assuring him, that whatever plan they had meditated to pursue, it was my fixed and unalterable determination to proceed, in spite of every difficulty that might oppose, or danger that should threaten me. The man was very much mortified at my addressing this remonstrance particularly to him; and replied that he did not deserve my displeasure more than the rest of them. My object being answered, the conversation dropped, and the work went on.

About two in the afternoon one of the men perceived a canoe with two natives in it, coming along the inside of the island, but the water being shallow, it turned back, and we imagined that on perceiving us they had taken the alarm; but we were agreeably surprised on seeing them come up the outside of the island, when we recognised our guide, and {189}one of the natives whom we had already seen; The former began immediately to apologize for his conduct, and assured me that since he had left me, his whole time had been employed in searching after his family, who had been seized with the general panic, that had been occasioned by the false reports of the people who had first fled from us. He said it was generally apprehended by the natives, that we had been unfriendly to their relations above, who were expected upon the river in great numbers at this time: and that many of the Atnah or Chin nation, had come up the river to where we had been, in the hope of seeing us, and were very much displeased with him and his friends for having neglected to give them an early notice of our arrival there. He added, that the two men whom we had seen yesterday, or the day before, were just returned from their rendezvous, with the natives of the sea coast, and had brought a message from his brother-in-law, that he had a new axe for him, and not to forget to bring a moose-skin dressed in exchange, which he actually had in his canoe. He expected to meet him, he said, at the other end of the carrying-place.

This was as pleasing intelligence as we had reason to expect, and it is almost superfluous to observe that we stood in great need of it. I had a meridian altitude, which gave 53. 3. 7. {190}North latitude. I also took time in the fore and afternoon, that gave a mean of 1. 37. 42. Achrometer slow apparent time, which, with an observed immersion of Jupiter's first satellite, made our longitude 122. 48. West of Greenwich.

The blind old man gave a very favourable account of us to his friends, and they all three were very merry together during the whole of the afternoon. That our guide, however, might not escape from us during the night, I determined to set a watch upon him.


  Sunday, 30.—Our strangers conducted themselves with great good humour throughout the day. According to their information, we should find their friends above and below the carrying-place. They mentioned, also, that some of them were not of their tribe, but are allied to the people of the sea coast, who trade with the white men. I had a meridian altitude, that gave 53. 3. 17. North latitude.


JULY. Monday, 1.—Last night I had the first watch, when one of my Indians proposed to sit up with me, as he understood, from the old man's conversation, that he intended, in the course of the night, to make his escape. Accordingly, at eleven I extinguished my light, and sat quietly in my tent, from whence I could observe the motions of the {191}natives. About twelve, though the night was rather dark, I observed the old man creeping on his hands and knees towards the water-side. We accordingly followed him very quietly to the canoe, and he would have gone away with it, if he had not been interrupted in his design. On upbraiding him for his treacherous conduct, when he had been treated with so much kindness by us, he denied the intention of which we accused him, and declared that his sole object was to assuage his thirst. At length, however, he acknowledged the truth, and when we brought him to the fire, his friends, who now awoke, on being informed of what had passed, reprobated his conduct, and asked him how he could expect that the white people would return to this country, if they experienced such ungrateful treatment. The guide said, for his part, he was not a woman, and would never run away through fear. But notwithstanding this courageous declaration, at once I awakened Mr. Mackay, related to him what had passed, and requested him not to indulge himself in sleep, till I should rise. It was seven before I awoke, and on quitting my tent I was surprised at not seeing the guide and his companion, and my apprehensions were increased when I observed that the canoe was removed from its late situation. To my inquiries after them, some of the men very composedly {192}answered that they were gone up the river, and had left the old man behind them. Mr. Mackay also told me, that while he was busily employed on the canoe, they had got to the point before he had observed their departure. The interpreter now informed me that at the dawn of day the guide had expressed his design, as soon as the sun was up, to go and wait for us, where he might find his friends. I hoped this might be true; but that my people should suffer them to depart without giving me notice, was a circumstance that awakened very painful reflections in my breast. The weather was clear in the forenoon. My observation this day gave 53. 8. 82. North latitude.

At five in the afternoon our vessel was completed, and ready for service. She proved a stronger and better boat than the old one, though had it not been for the gum obtained from the latter, it would have been a matter of great difficulty to have procured a sufficiency of that article to have prevented her from leaking. The remainder of the day was employed by the people in cleaning and refreshing themselves, as they had enjoyed no relaxation from their labour since we landed on this spot.

The old man having manifested for various and probably very fallacious reasons, a very great aversion to accompany us any further, {193}it did not appear that there was any necessity to force his inclination. We now put our arms in order, which was soon accomplished, as they were at all times a general object of attention.


  Tuesday, 2.—It rained throughout the night, but at half past three we were ready to embark, when I offered to conduct the old man where he had supposed we should meet his friends, but he declined the proposition. I therefore directed a few pounds of pemmican to be left with him, for his immediate support, and took leave of him and the place, which I named Canoe Island. During our stay there we had been most cruelly tormented by flies, particularly the sand-fly, which I am disposed to consider as the most tormenting insect of its size in nature. I was also compelled to put the people upon short allowance, and confine them to two meals a day, a regulation peculiarly offensive to a Canadian voyager. One of these meals was composed of the dried rows of fish, pounded, and boiled in water, thickened with a small quantity of flour, and fattened with a bit of grian. These articles, being brought to the consistency of an hasty pudding, produced a substantial and not unpleasant dish. The natives are very careful of the rows of fish, which they dry, and preserve in baskets made of bark. Those we used were found in the {194}huts of the first people who fled from us. During our abode in Canoe Island, the water sunk three perpendicular feet. I now gave the men a dram each, which could not but be considered, at this time, as a very comfortable treat. They were, indeed, in high spirits, when they perceived the superior excellence of the new vessel, and reflected that it was the work of their own hands.

[Transcriber's Note: The word 'grian' above is printed thus in this, and other, editions.]

At eleven we arrived at the rapids, and the foreman, who had not forgotten the fright he suffered on coming down it, proposed that the canoe and lading should be carried over the mountain. I threatened him with taking the office of foreman on myself, and suggested the evident change there was in the appearance of the water since we passed it, which upon examination had sunk four feet and an half. As the water did not seem so strong on the West side, I determined to cross over, having first put Mr. Mackay, and our two hunters, on shore, to try the woods for game. We accordingly traversed, and got up close along the rocks, to a considerable distance, with the paddles, when we could proceed no further without assistance from the line; and to draw it across a perpendicular rock, for the distance of fifty fathoms, appeared to be an insurmountable obstacle. The general opinion was to return, and carry on the other side; I desired, however, two of the men to {195}take the line, which was seventy fathoms in length, with a small roll of bark, and endeavour to climb up the rocks, from whence they were to descend on the other side of that which opposed our progress; they were then to fasten the end of the line to the roll of bark, which the current would bring to us; this being effected, they would be able to draw us up. This was an enterprise of difficulty and danger, but it was crowned with success; though to get to the water's edge above, the men were obliged to let themselves down with the line, run round a tree, from the summit of the rock. By a repetition of the same operation, we at length cleared the rapid, with the additional trouble of carrying the canoe, and unloading at two cascades. We were not more than two hours getting up this difficult part of the river, including the time employed in repairing an hole which had been broken in the canoe, by the negligence of the steersman.

Here we expected to meet with the natives, but there was not the least appearance of them, except that the guide, his companion, and two others, had apparently passed the carrying-place. We saw several fish leap out of the water, which appeared to be of the salmon kind. The old man, indeed, had informed us that this was the season when the large fish begin to come up the river. Our {196}hunters returned, but had not seen the track of any animal. We now continued our journey; the current was not strong, but we met with frequent impediments from the fallen trees, which lay along the banks. We landed at eight in the evening; and suffered indescribable inconveniences from the flies.


  Wednesday, 3.—It had rained hard in the night, and there was some small rain in the morning. At four we entered our canoe, and at ten we came to a small river, which answered to the description of that whose course the natives said, they follow in their journies towards the sea coast; we therefore put into it, and endeavoured to discover if our guide had landed here; but there were no traces of him or of any others. My former perplexities were now renewed. If I passed this river, it was probable that I might miss the natives; and I had reason to suspect that my men would not consent to return thither. As for attempting the woods, without a guide, to introduce us to the first inhabitants, such a determination would be little short of absolute madness. At length, after much painful reflection, I resolved to come at once to a full explanation with my people, and I experienced a considerable relief from this resolution. Accordingly, after repeating the promise they had so lately made me, on our putting back up the river, I represented to them {197}that this appeared to me to be the spot from which the natives took their departure for the sea coast, and added, withal, that I was determined to try it: for though our guide had left us, it was possible that, while we were making the necessary preparations, he or some others might appear, to relieve us from our present difficulties. I now found, to my great satisfaction, that they had not come to any fixed determination among themselves, as some of them immediately assented to undertake the woods with me. Others, however, suggested that it might be better to proceed a few leagues further up the river, in expectation of finding our guide, or procuring another, and that after all we might return hither. This plan I very readily agreed to adopt, but before I left this place, to which I gave the name of the West-Road River, I sent some of the men into the woods, in different directions, and went some distance up the river myself, which I found to be navigable only for small canoes. Two of the men found a good beaten path, leading up a hill just behind us, which I imagined to be the great road.

At four in the afternoon we left this place, proceeding up the river; and had not been upon the water more than three quarters of an hour, when we saw two canoes coming with the stream. No sooner did the people {198}in them perceive us than they landed, and we went on shore at the same place with them. They proved to be our guide, and six of his relations. He was covered with a painted beaver robe, so that we scarcely knew him in his fine habiliment. He instantly desired us to acknowledge that he had not disappointed us, and declared, at the same time, that it was his constant intention to keep his word. I accordingly gave him a jacket, a pair of trowsers, and a handkerchief, as a reward for his honourable conduct. The strangers examined us with the most minute attention, and two of them, as I was now informed, belonged to the people whom we first saw, and who fled with so much alarm from us. They told me, also, that they were so terrified on that occasion, as not to approach their huts for two days; and that when they ventured thither, they found the greater part of their property destroyed, by the fire running in the ground. According to their account, they were of a different tribe, though I found no difference in their language from that of the Nagailas or Carriers. They are called Nascud Denee. Their lodges were at some distance, on a small lake, where they take fish, and if our guide had not gone for them there, we should not have seen a human being on the river. They informed me that the road by their habitation is the shortest, {199}and they proposed that we should take it.


  Thursday, 4.—At an early hour this morning, and at the suggestion of our guide, we proceeded to the landing-place that leads to the strangers' lodges. Our great difficulty here was to procure a temporary separation from our company, in order to hide some articles we could not carry with us, and which it would have been imprudent to leave in the power of the natives. Accordingly Mr. Mackay, and one of our Indians embarked with them, and soon run out of our sight. At our first hiding-place we left a bag of pemmican, weighing ninety pounds, two bags of wild rice, and a gallon keg of gunpowder. Previous to our putting these articles in the ground, we rolled them up in oilcloth, and dressed leather. In the second hiding-place, and guarded with the same rollers, we hid two bags of Indian corn, or maize, and a bale of different articles of merchandise. When we had completed this important object, we proceeded till half past eight, when we landed at the entrance of a small rivulet, where our friends were waiting for us.

Here it was necessary that we should leave our canoe, and whatever we could not carry on our backs. In the first place, therefore, we prepared a stage, on which the canoe was placed bottom upwards, and shaded by a {200}covering of small trees and branches, to keep her from the sun. We then built an oblong hollow square, ten feet by five, of green logs, wherein we placed every article it was necessary for us to leave here, and covered the whole with large pieces of timber.

While we were eagerly employed in this necessary business, our guide and his companions were so impatient to be gone, that we could not persuade the former to wait till we were prepared for our departure, and we had some difficulty in persuading another of the natives to remain, who had undertook to conduct us where the guide had promised to wait our arrival.

At noon we were in a state of preparation to enter the woods, an undertaking of which I shall not here give any preliminary opinion, but leave those who read it to judge for themselves.

We carried on our backs four bags and a half of pemmican, weighing from eighty-five to ninety pounds each; a case with my instruments, a parcel of goods for presents, weighing ninety pounds, and a parcel containing ammunition of the same weight. Each of the Canadians had a burden of about ninety pounds, with a gun, and some ammunition. The Indians had about forty-five pounds weight of pemmican to carry, besides their gun, &c., with which they were very {201}much dissatisfied, and if they had dared would have instantly left us. They had hitherto been very much indulged, but the moment was now arrived, when indulgence was no longer practicable. My own load, and that of Mr. Mackay, consisted of twenty-two pounds of pemmican, some rice, a little sugar, &c., amounting in the whole to about seventy pounds each, besides our arms and ammunition. I had also the tube of my telescope swung across my shoulder, which was a troublesome addition to my burthen. It was determined that we should content ourselves with two meals a day, which were regulated without difficulty, as our provisions did not require the ceremony of cooking.

In this state of equipment we began our journey, as I have already mentioned, about twelve at noon, the commencement of which was a steep ascent of about a mile; it lay along a well-beaten path, but the country through which it led was rugged and ridgy, and full of wood. When we were in a state of extreme heat, from the toil of our journey, the rain came on, and continued till evening, and even when it ceased, the underwood continued its drippings upon us.

About half past six we arrived at an Indian camp of three fires, where we found our guide, and on his recommendation we determined to remain there for the night. The {202}computed distance of this day's journey was about twelve geographical miles; the course about West.

At sun-set, an elderly man and three other natives joined us from the Westward. The former bore a lance, which very much resembled a serjeant's halberd. He had lately received it, by way of barter, from the natives of the Sea-Coast, who procured it from the white men. We should meet, he said, with many of his countrymen, who had just returned from thence. According to his report, it did not require more than six days' journey, for people who are not heavily laden, to reach the country of those with whom they bartered their skins for iron, &c., and from thence it is not quite two days' march to the sea. They proposed to send two young men on before us, to notify to the different tribes that we were approaching, that they might not be surprised at our appearance, and be disposed to afford us a friendly reception. This was a measure which I could not but approve, and endeavoured by some small presents to prepossess our couriers in our favour.

These people live but poorly at this season, and I could procure no provision from them, but a few small, dried fish, as I think, of the carp kind. They had several European articles; and one of them had a strip of fur, {203}which appeared to me to be of the sea otter. He obtained it from the natives of the coast, and exchanged it with me for some beads and a brass cross.

We retired to rest in as much security as if we had been long habituated to a confidence in our present associates: indeed, we had no alternative; for so great were the fatigues of the day in our mode of travelling, that we were in great need of rest at night.


  Friday, 5.—We had no sooner laid ourselves down to rest last night, than the natives began to sing, in a manner very different from what I had been accustomed to hear among savages. It was not accompanied either with dancing, drum, or rattle; but consisted of soft plaintive tones, and a modulation that was rather agreeable: it had somewhat the air of church music. As the natives had requested me not to quit them at a very early hour in the morning, it was five before I desired that the young men, who were to proceed with us, should depart, when they prepared to set off: but on calling to our guide to conduct us, he said that he did not intend to accompany us any further; as the young men would answer our purpose as well as himself. I knew it would be in vain to remonstrate with him, and therefore submitted to his caprice without a reply. However, I thought proper to inform him, that one of {204}my people had lost his dag or poignard, and requested his assistance in the recovery of it. He asked me what I would give him to conjure it back again; and a knife was agreed to be the price of his necromantic exertions. Accordingly, all the dags and knives in the place were gathered together, and the natives formed a circle round them; the conjurer also remaining in the middle. When this part of the ceremony was arranged, he began to sing, the rest joining in the chorus; and after some time he produced the poignard, which was stuck in the ground, and returned it to me.

At seven we were ready to depart; when I was surprised to hear our late guide propose, without any solicitation on our part, to resume his office; and he actually conducted us as far as a small lake, where we found an encampment of three families. The young men who had undertaken to conduct us, were not well understood by my interpreters, who continued to be so displeased with their journey, that they performed this part of their duty with great reluctance. I endeavoured to persuade an elderly man of this encampment to accompany us to the next tribe, but no inducement of mine could prevail on him to comply with my wishes. I was, therefore, obliged to content myself with the guides I had already engaged, for whom we were obliged to wait some time, till they had {205}provided shoes for their journey. I exchanged two halfpence here, one of his present Majesty, and the other of the State of Massachusett's Bay, coined in 1787. They hung as ornaments in children's ears.

My situation here was rendered rather unpleasant by the treatment which my hunters received from these people. The former, it appeared, were considered as belonging to a tribe who inhabit the mountains, and are the natural enemies of the latter. We had also been told by one of the natives, of a very stern aspect, that he had been stabbed by a relation of theirs, and pointed to a scar as the proof of it. I was, therefore, very glad to proceed on my journey.

Our guides conducted us along the lake through thick woods, and without any path, for about a mile and a half, when we lost sight of it. This piece of water is about three miles long and one broad. We then crossed a creek and entered upon a beaten track, through an open country, sprinkled with cyprus trees. At twelve the sky became black, and a heavy gust with rain shortly followed, which continued for upwards of an hour. When we perceived the approaching storm, we fixed our thin light oil-cloth to screen us from it. On renewing our march, as the bushes were very wet, I desired our guides, they having no burdens, to walk in {206}front and beat them as they went: this task they chose to decline, and accordingly I undertook it. Our road now lay along a lake, and across a creek that ran into it. The guides informed me, that this part of the country abounds in beaver: many traps were seen along the road, which had been set for lynxes and martens. About a quarter of a mile from the place where we had been stopped by the rain, the ground was covered with hail, and as we advanced, the hailstones increased in size, some of them being as big as musket-balls. In this manner was the ground whitened for upwards of two miles. At five in the afternoon we arrived on the banks of another lake, when it again threatened rain; and we had already been sufficiently wetted in the course of the day, to look with complacency towards a repetition of it: we accordingly fixed our shed, the rain continuing with great violence through the remainder of the day: it was therefore determined, that we should stop here for the night.

In the course of the day we passed three winter huts; they consisted of low walls, with a ridge pole, covered with the branches of the Canadian balsam-tree. One of my men had a violent pain in his knee, and I asked the guides to take a share of his burden, as they had nothing to carry but their beaver robes, and bows and arrows, but they could not {207}be made to understand a word of my request.


  Saturday, 6.—At four this morning I arose from my bed, such as it was. As we must have been in a most unfortunate predicament, if our guides should have deserted us in the night, by way of security, I proposed to the youngest of them to sleep with me, and he readily consented. These people have no covering but their beaver garments, and that of my companions was a nest of vermin. I, however, spread it under us, and having laid down upon it, we covered ourselves with my camblet cloak. My companion's hair being greased with fish-oil, and his body smeared with red earth, my sense of smelling as well as that of feeling, threatened to interrupt my rest; but these inconveniences yielded to my fatigue, and I passed a night of sound repose.

I took the lead in our march, as I had done yesterday, in order to clear the branches of the wet which continued to hang upon them. We proceeded with all possible expedition through a level country with but little underwood; the larger trees were of the fir kind. At half past eight we fell upon the road, which we first intended to have taken from the Great River, and must be shorter than that which we had travelled. The West-road river was also in sight, winding through a {208}valley. We had not met with any water since our encampment of last night, and though we were afflicted with violent thirst, the river was at such a distance from us, and the descent to it so long and steep, that we were compelled to be satisfied with casting our longing looks towards it. There appeared to be more water in the river here, than at its discharge. The Indian account, that it is navigable for their canoes, is, I believe, perfectly correct.

Our guides now told us, that as the road was very good and well traced, they would proceed to inform the next tribe that we were coming. This information was of a very unpleasant nature; as it would have been easy for them to turn off the road at an hundred yards from us, and, when we had passed them, to return home. I proposed that one of them should remain with us, while two of my people should leave their loads behind and accompany the other to the lodges. But they would not stay to hear our persuasions, and were soon out of sight.

I now desired the Cancre to leave his burden, take a small quantity of provision, with his arms and blanket, and follow me. I also told my men to come on as fast as they could, and that I would wait for them as soon as I had formed an acquaintance with the natives of the country before us. We accordingly {209}followed our guides with all the expedition in our power, but did not overtake them till we came to a family of natives, consisting of one man, two women, and six children, with whom we found them. These people betrayed no signs of fear at our appearance, and the man willingly conversed with my interpreter, to whom he made himself more intelligible, than our guides had been able to do. They, however, had informed him of the object of our journey. He pointed out to us one of his wives, who was a native of the sea coast, which was not a very great distance from us. This woman was more inclined to corpulency than any we had yet seen, was of low stature, with an oblong face, grey eyes, and a flattish nose. She was decorated with ornaments of various kinds, such as large blue beads, either pendant from her ears, encircling her neck, or braided in her hair: she also wore bracelets of brass, copper, and horn. Her garments consisted of a kind of tunic, which was covered with a robe of matted bark, fringed round the bottom with skin of the sea otter. None of the women whom I had seen since we crossed the mountain wore this kind of tunic; their blankets being merely girt round the waist. She had learned the language of her husband's tribe, and confirmed his account, that we were at no great distance from the sea. {210}They were on their way, she said, to the great river to fish. Age seemed to be an object of great veneration among these people, for they carried an old woman by turns on their backs who was quite blind and infirm from the very advanced period of her life.

Our people having joined us and rested themselves, I requested our guides to proceed, when the elder of them told me that he should not go any further, but that these people would send a boy to accompany his brother, and I began to think myself rather fortunate, that we were not deserted by them all.

About noon we parted, and in two hours we came up with two men and their families: when we first saw them they were sitting down, as if to rest themselves; but no sooner did they perceive us than they rose up and seized their arms.—The boys who were behind us immediately ran forwards and spoke to them, when they laid by their arms and received us as friends. They had been eating green berries and dried fish We had, indeed, scarcely joined them, when a woman and a boy came from the river with water, which they very hospitably gave us to drink. The people of this party had a very sickly appearance, which might have been the consequence of disease, or that indolence which is so natural to them, or of both. One of the {211}women had a tattooed line along the chin, of the same length of her mouth.

The lads now informed me that they would go no further, but that these men would take their places; and they parted from their families with as little apparent concern, as if they were entire strangers to each other. One of them was very well understood by my interpreter, and had resided among the natives of the sea coast, whom he had left but a short time. According to his information, we were approaching a river, which was neither large nor long, but whose banks were inhabited; and that in the bay which the sea forms at the mouth of it, a great wooden canoe, with white people, arrives about the time when the leaves begin to grow; I presume in the early part of May.

After we parted with the last people, we came to an uneven, hilly, swampy country, through which our way was impeded by a considerable number of fallen trees. At five in the afternoon we were overtaken by a heavy shower of rain and hail, and being at the same time very much fatigued, we encamped for the night near a small creek. Our course till we came to the river, was about South-West ten miles, and then West, twelve or fourteen miles. I thought it prudent, by way of security, to submit to the same inconveniences I have already described, {212}and shared the beaver robe of one of my guides during the night.


  Sunday, 7.—I was so busily employed in collecting intelligence from our conductors, that I last night forgot to wind up my timepiece, and it was the only instance of such an act of negligence since I left Fort Chepewyan on the 11th of last October. At five we quitted our station, and proceeded across two mountains, covered with spruce, poplar, white-birch, and other trees. We then descended into a level country, where we found a good road, through woods of cypress. We then came to two small lakes, at the distance of about fourteen miles. Course about West. Through them the river passes, and our road kept in a parallel line with it on a range of elevated ground. On observing some people before us, our guides hastened to meet them, and, on their approach, one of them stepped forward with an axe in his hand. This party consisted only of a man, two women, and the same number of children. The eldest of the women, who probably was the man's mother, was engaged, when we joined them, in clearing a circular spot, of about five feet in diameter, of the weeds that infested it; nor did our arrival interrupt her employment, which was sacred to the memory of the dead. The spot to which her pious care was devoted, contained the grave of an husband, and a son, {213}and whenever she passed this way, she always stopped to pay this tribute of affection.

As soon as we had taken our morning allowance, we set forwards, and about three we perceived more people before us. After some alarm we came up with them. They consisted of seven men, as many women, and several children. Here I was under the necessity of procuring another guide, and we continued our route on the same side of the river, till six in the evening, when we crossed it. It was knee deep, and about an hundred yards over. I wished now to stop for the night, as we were all of us very much fatigued, but our guide recommended us to proceed onwards to a family of his friends, at a small distance from thence, where we arrived at half past seven. He had gone forward, and procured us a welcome and quiet reception. There being a net hanging to dry, I requested the man to prepare and set it in the water, which he did with great expedition, and then presented me with a few small dried fish. Our course was South-West about twelve miles, part of which was an extensive swamp, that was seldom less than knee deep. In the course of the afternoon we had several showers of rain: I had attempted to take an altitude, but it was past meridian. The water of the river before the lodge was quite still, and expanded itself the form of a small {214}lake. In many other places, indeed, it had assumed the same form.


  Monday, 8.—It rained throughout the night, and it was seven in the morning before the weather would allow us to proceed. The guide brought me five small boiled fish, in a platter made of bark; some of them were of the carp kind, and the rest of a species for which I am not qualified to furnish a name. Having dried our clothes, we set off on our march about eight, and our guide very cheerfully continued to accompany us; but he was not altogether so intelligible as his predecessors in our service. We learned from him, however, that this lake, through which the river passes, extends to the foot of the mountain, and that he expected to meet nine men, of a tribe which inhabits the North side of the river.

In this part of our journey we were surprised with the appearance of several regular basons, some of them furnished with water, and the others empty; their slope from the edge to the bottom formed an angle of about forty-five degrees, and their perpendicular depth was about twelve feet. Those that contained water, discovered gravel near their edges, while the empty ones were covered with grass and herbs, among which we discovered mustard, and mint. There were also several places from whence the water appears {215}to have retired, which are covered with the same soil and herbage.

We now proceeded along a very uneven country, the upper parts of which were covered with poplars, a little under-wood, and plenty of grass: the intervening vallies were watered with rivulets. From these circumstances, and the general appearance of vegetation, I could not account for the apparent absence of animals of every kind.


  Tuesday, 9.—At two in the afternoon we arrived at the largest river that we had seen, since we left our canoe, and which forced its way between and over the huge stones that opposed its current. Our course was about South-South-West sixteen miles along the river, which might here justify the title of a lake. The road was good, and our next course, which was West by South, brought us onward ten miles, where we encamped, fatigued and wet, it having rained three parts of the day. This river abounds with fish, and must fall into the great river, further down than we had extended our voyage.

A heavy and continued rain fell through great part of the night, and as we were in some measure exposed to it, time was required to dry our clothes; so that it was half past seven in the morning before we were ready to set out. As we found the country so destitute of game, and foreseeing the difficulty of {216}procuring provisions for our return, I thought it prudent to conceal half a bag of pemmican: having sent off the Indians, and all my people except two, we buried it under the fire-place, as we had done on a former occasion. We soon overtook our party, and continued our route along the river or lake. About twelve I had an altitude, but it was inaccurate from the cloudiness of the weather. We continued our progress till five in the afternoon, when the water began to narrow, and in about half an hour we came to a ferry, where we found a small raft. At this time it began to thunder, and torrents of rain soon followed, which terminated our journey for the day. Our course was about South, twenty-one miles from the lake already mentioned. We now discovered the tops of mountains, covered with snow, over very high intermediate land. We killed a whitehead and a grey eagle, and three grey partridges; we also saw two otters in the river, and several beaver lodges along it. When the rain ceased, we caught a few small fish, and repaired the raft for the service of the ensuing day.


  Wednesday, 10.—At an early hour of this morning we prepared to cross the water. The traverse is about thirty yards, and it required five trips to get us all over. At a short distance below, a small river falls in, that comes from the direction in which we {217}were proceeding. It is a rapid for about three hundred yards, when it expands into a lake, along which our road conducted us, and beneath a range of beautiful hills, covered with verdure. At half past eight we came to the termination of the lake, where there were two houses that occupied a most delightful situation, and as they contained their necessary furniture, it seemed probable that their owners intended shortly to return. Near them were several graves or tombs, to which the natives are particularly attentive, and never suffer any herbage to grow upon them. In about half an hour we reached a place where there were two temporary huts, that contained thirteen men, with whom we found our guide who had preceded us, in order to secure a good reception. The buildings were detached from each other, and conveniently placed for fishing in the lake. Their inhabitants called themselves Sloua-cuss-Dinais, which denomination, as far as my interpreter could explain it to me, I understood to mean Red-fish Men. They were much more cleanly, healthy, and agreeable in their appearance, than any of the natives whom we had passed; nevertheless, I have no doubt that they are the same people, from their name alone, which is of the Chepewyan language. My interpreters, however, understood very little of what they said, so that I did not expect {218}much information from them. Some of them said it was a journey of four days to the sea, and others were of opinion that it was six; and there were among them who extended it to eight; but they all uniformly declared that they had been to the coast. They did not entertain the smallest apprehension of danger from us, and, when we discharged our pieces, expressed no sensation but that of astonishment, which, as may be supposed, was proportionably increased when one of the hunters shot an eagle, at a considerable distance. At twelve I obtained an altitude, which made our latitude 53. 4. 32. North, being not so far South as I expected.

I now went, accompanied by one of my men, an interpreter, and the guide, to visit some huts at the distance of a mile. On our arrival, the inhabitants presented us with a dish of boiled trout, of a small kind. The fish would have been excellent if it had not tasted of the kettle, which was made of the bark of the white spruce, and of the dried grass with which it was boiled. Besides this kind of trout, red and white carp and jub, are the only fish I saw as the produce of these waters.

These people appeared to live in a state of comparative comfort; they take a greater share in the labour of the women, than is common among the savage tribes, and are, as {219}I was informed, content with one wife. Though this circumstance may proceed rather from the difficulty of procuring subsistence, than any habitual aversion to polygamy.

My present guide now informed me, that he could not proceed any further, and I accordingly engaged two of these people to succeed him in that office; but when they desired us to proceed on the beaten path without them, as they could not set off till the following day, I determined to stay that night, in order to accommodate myself to their convenience. I distributed some trifles among the wives and children of the men who were to be our future guides, and returned to my people. We came back by a different way, and passed by two buildings, erected between four trees, and about fifteen feet from the ground, which appeared to me to be intended as magazines for winter provisions. At four in the afternoon, we proceeded with considerable expedition, by the side of the lake, till six, when we came to the end of it: we then struck off through a much less beaten track, and at half past seven stopped for the night. Our course, was about West-South-West thirteen miles, and West six miles.


  Thursday, 11.—I passed a most uncomfortable night: the first part of it I was tormented with flies, and in the latter deluged with rain. In the morning the weather {220}cleared, and as soon as our clothes were dried, we proceeded through a morass. This part of the country had been laid waste by fire, and the fallen trees added to the pain and perplexity of our way. A high, rocky ridge stretched along our left. Though the rain returned, we continued our progress till noon, when our guide took to some trees for shelter. We then spread our oil-cloth, and, with some difficulty, made a fire. About two the rain ceased, when we continued our journey through the same kind of country which we had hitherto passed. At half past three we came in sight of a lake; the land at the same time gradually rising to a range of mountains whose tops were covered with snow. We soon after observed two fresh tracks, which seemed to surprise our guides, but they supposed them to have been made by the inhabitants of the country, who were come into this part of it to fish. At five in the afternoon we were so wet and cold (for it had at intervals continued to rain) that we were compelled to stop for the night. We passed seven rivulets and a creek in this day's journey, As I had hitherto regulated our course by the sun, I could not form an accurate judgment of this route, as we had not been favoured with a sight of it during the day; but I imagine it to have been nearly in the same direction as that of yesterday. Our distance {221}could not have been less than fifteen miles.

Our conductors now began to complain of our mode of travelling, and mentioned their intention of leaving us; and my interpreters, who were equally dissatisfied, added to our perplexity by their conduct. Besides these circumstances, and the apprehension that the distance from the sea might be greater than I had imagined, it became a matter of real necessity that we should begin to diminish the consumption of our provisions, and to subsist upon two-thirds of our allowance; a preposition which was as unwelcome to my people, as it was necessary to put into immediate practice.


  Friday, 12.—At half past five this morning we proceeded on our journey, with cloudy weather, and when we came to the end of the lake, several tracks were visible that led to the side of the water; from which circumstance I concluded, that some of the natives were fishing along the banks of it. This lake is not more than three miles long, and about one broad. We then passed four smaller lakes, the two first being on our right, and those which preceded, on our left. A small river also flowed across our way from the right, and we passed it over a beaver-dam. A larger lake new appeared on our right, and the mountains on each side of us were covered {222}with snow. We afterwards came to another lake on our right, and soon reached a river, which our guides informed us was the same that we had passed on a raft. They said it was navigable for canoes from the great river, except two rapids, one of which we had seen. At this place it was upwards of twenty yards across, and deep water. One of the guides swam over to fetch a raft which was on the opposite side; and having encreased its dimensions, we crossed at two trips, except four of the men, who preferred swimming.

Here our conductors renewed their menace of leaving us, and I was obliged to give them several articles, and promise more, in order to induce them to continue till we could procure other natives to succeed them. At four in the afternoon we forded the same river, and being with the guides at some distance before the rest of the people, I sat down to wait for them, and no sooner did they arrive, than the former set off with so much speed, that my attempt to follow them proved unsuccessful. One of my Indians, however, who had no load, overtook them, when they excused themselves to him by declaring that their sole motive for leaving us, was to prevent the people, whom they expected to find, from shooting their arrows at us. At seven o'clock, however, were so fatigued, that {223}we encamped without them; the mountains covered with snow now appeared to be directly before us. As we were collecting wood for our fire, we discovered a cross road, where it appeared that people had passed within seven or eight days. In short, our situation was such as to afford a just cause of alarm, and that of the people with me was of a nature to defy immediate alleviation. It was necessary, however, for me to attempt it; and I rested my principles of encouragement on a representation of our past perplexities and unexpected relief, and endeavoured to excite in them the hope of similar good fortune. I stated to them, that we could not be at a great distance from the sea, and that there were but few natives to pass, till we should arrive among those, who being accustomed to visit the sea coast, and, having seen white people, would be disposed to treat us with kindness. Such was the general tenor of the reasoning I employed on the occasion, and I was happy to find that it was not offered in vain.

The weather had been cloudy till three in the afternoon, when the sun appeared; but surrounded, as we were, with snow-clad mountains; the air became so cold, that the violence of our exercise, was not sufficient to produce a comfortable degree of warmth. Our course to-day was from West to South {224}and at least thirty-six miles. The land in general was very barren and stony, and lay in ridges, with cypress trees scattered over them. We passed several swamps, where we saw nothing to console us but a few tracks of deer.


  Saturday, 13.—The weather this morning was clear but cold, and our scanty covering was not sufficient to protect us from the severity of the night. About five, after we had warmed ourselves at a large fire, we proceeded on our dubious journey. In about an hour we came to the edge of a wood, when we perceived a house, situated on a green spot, and by the side of a small river. The smoke that issued from it informed us that it was inhabited. I immediately pushed forward towards this mansion, while my people were in such a state of alarm, that they followed me with the greatest reluctance. On looking back, I perceived that we were in an Indian defile, of fifty yards in length. I, however, was close upon the house before the inhabitants perceived us, when the women and children uttered the most horrid shrieks, and the only man who appeared to be with them, escaped out of a back door, which I reached in time to prevent the women and children from following him. The man fled with all his speed into the wood, and I called in vain on my interpreters to speak to him, {225}but they were so agitated with fear as to have lost the power of utterance. It is impossible to describe the distress and alarm of these poor people, who believing that they were attacked by enemies, expected an immediate massacre, which, among themselves, never fails to follow such an event.

Our prisoners consisted of three women, and seven children, which apparently composed three families. At length, however, by our demeanor, and our presents, we contrived to dissipate their apprehensions. One of the women then informed us, that their people, with several others had left that place three nights before, on a trading journey to a tribe whom she called Annah, which is the name the Chepewyans give to the Knisteneaux, at the distance of three days. She added also, that from the mountains before us, which were covered with snow, the sea was visible; and accompanied her information with a present of a couple of dried fish. We now expressed our desire that the man might be induced to return, and conduct us in the road to the sea. Indeed, it was not long before he discovered himself in the wood, when he was assured, both by the women and our interpreters, that we had no hostile design against him; but these assurances had no effect in quieting his apprehensions. I then attempted to go to him alone, {226}and showed him a knife, beads, &c., to induce him to come to me, but he, in return, made a hostile display of his bow and arrows: and, having for some time exhibited a variety of strange antics, again disappeared. However, he soon presented himself in another quarter, and after a succession of parleys between us, he engaged to come and accompany us.

While these negotiations were proceeding, I proposed to visit the fishing machines, to which the women readily consented, and I found in them twenty small fish, such as trout, carp, and jub, for which I gave her a large knife; a present that appeared to be equally unexpected and gratifying to her. Another man now came towards us, from a hill, talking aloud from the time he appeared, till he reached us. The purport of his speech was, that he threw himself upon our mercy and we might kill him, if it was our pleasure but that from what he had heard, he looked rather for our friendship than our enmity. He was an elderly person, of a decent appearance, and I gave him some articles to conciliate him to us. The first man now followed with a lad along with him, both of whom were the sons of the old man, and, on his arrival, he gave me several half dried fish, which I considered as a peace-offering. After some conversation with these people, respecting the country, and our future progress {227}through it, we retired to rest, with sensations very different from those with which we had risen in the morning. The weather had been generally cloudy throughout the day, and when the sun was obscured, extremely cold for the season. At noon I obtained a meridian altitude, which gave 52. 58. 58. North latitude. I likewise took time in the after-noon.


  Sunday, 14.—This morning we had a bright sun, with an East wind. These people examined their fishing machines, when they found in them a great number of small fish, and we dressed as many of them as we could eat. Thus was our departure retarded until seven, when we proceeded on our journey, accompanied by the man and his two sons. As I did not want the younger, and should be obliged to feed him, I requested of his father to leave him, for the purpose of fishing for the women. He replied, that they were accustomed to fish for themselves, and that I need not be apprehensive of their encroaching upon my provisions, as they were used to sustain themselves in their journies on herbs, and the inner tegument of the bark of trees, for the stripping of which he had a thin piece of bone, then hanging by his side. The latter is of glutinous quality, of a clammy, sweet taste, and is generally considered by the more interior Indians as a delicacy, rather than an {228}article of common food. Our guide informed me that there is a short cut across the mountains, but as there was no trace of a road, and it would shorten our journey but one day, he should prefer the beaten way.

We accordingly proceeded along a lake, West five miles. We then crossed a small river, and passed through a swamp, about South-West, when we began gradually to ascend for some time till we gained the summit of a hill, where we had an extensive view to the South-East, from which direction a considerable river appeared to flow, at the distance of about three miles: it was represented to me as being navigable for canoes. The descent of this hill was more steep than its ascent, and was succeeded by another, whose top, though not so elevated as the last, afforded a view of the range of mountains, covered with snow, which, according to the intelligence of our guide, terminates in the ocean. We now left a small lake on our left, then crossed a creek running out of it, and at one in the afternoon came to a house, of the same construction and dimensions as have already been mentioned, but the materials were much better prepared and finished. The timber was squared on two sides, and the bark taken off the two others; the ridge pole was also shaped in the same manner, extending about eight or ten feet beyond the gable end, and {229}supporting a shed over the door: the end of it was carved into the similitude of a snake's head. Several hieroglyphics and figures of a similar workmanship, and painted with red earth, decorated the interior of the building. The inhabitants had left the house but a short time, and there were several bags or bundles in it, which I did not suffer to be disturbed. Near it were two tombs, surrounded in a neat manner with boards, and covered with bark. Beside them several poles had been erected, one of which was squared, and all of them painted. From each of them were suspended several rolls or parcels of bark, and our guide gave the following account of them; which, as far as we could judge, from our imperfect knowledge of the language, and the incidental errors of interpretation, appeared to involve two different modes of treating their dead; or it might be one and the same ceremony, which we did not distinctly comprehend: at all events, it is the practice of these people to burn the bodies of their dead, except the larger bones, which are rolled up in bark and suspended from poles, as I have already described. According to the other account, it appeared that they actually bury their dead; and when another of the family dies, the remains of the person who was last interred are taken from the grave and burned, has been already {230}mentioned; so that the members of a family are thus successively buried and burned, to make room for each other; and one tomb proves sufficient for a family through succeeding generations. There is no house in this country without a tomb in its vicinity. Our last course extended about ten miles.

We continued our journey along the lake before the house, and, crossing a river that flowed out of it, came to a kind of bank, or weir, formed by the natives, for the purpose of placing their fishing machines, many of which of different sizes, were lying on the side of the river. Our guide placed one of them, with the certain expectation that on his return he should find plenty of fish in it. We proceeded nine miles further, on a good road, West-South-West, when we came to a small lake: we then crossed a river that ran out of it, and our guides were in continual expectation of meeting with some of the natives. To this place our course was a mile and a half, in the same direction as the last. At nine at night we crossed a river on rafts, our last distance being about four miles South-East, on a winding road, through a swampy country, and along a succession of small lakes. We were now quite exhausted, and it was absolutely necessary for us to stop for the night. The weather being clear throughout the day, we had no reason to {231}complain of the cold. Our guides encouraged us with the hope that, in two days of similar exertion, we should arrive among people of the other nation.


  Monday, 15.—At five this morning we were again in motion, and passing along a river, we at length forded it. This stream was not more than knee deep, about thirty yards over, and with a stony bottom. The old man went onward by himself, in the hope of falling in with the people, whom he expected to meet in the course of the day. At eleven we came up with him, and the natives whom he expected, consisting of five men, and part of their families. They received us with great kindness, and examined us with the most minute attention. They must, however, have been told that we were white, as our faces no longer indicated that distinguishing complexion. They called themselves Neguia Dinais, and were come in a different direction from us, but were now going the same way, to the Anah-yoe Tesse or River, and appeared to be very much satisfied with our having joined them. They presented us with some fish which they had just taken in the adjoining lake.

Here I expected that our guides, like their predecessors, would have quitted us, but, on the contrary, they expressed themselves to be so happy, in our company, and that of {232}their friends, that they voluntarily, and with great cheerfulness proceeded to pass another night with us. Our new acquaintance were people of a very pleasing aspect. The hair of the women was tied in large loose knots over the ears, and plaited with great neatness from the division of the head, so as to be included in the knots. Some of them had adorned their tresses with beads, with a very pretty effect. The men were clothed in leather, their hair was nicely combed, and their complexion was fairer, or perhaps it may be said, with more propriety, that they were more cleanly, than any of the natives whom we had yet seen. Their eyes, though keen and sharp, are not of that dark colour, so generally observable in the various tribes of Indians; they were, on the contrary, of a grey hue, with a tinge of red. There was one man amongst them of at least six feet four inches in height; his manners were affable, and he had a more prepossessing appearance than any Indian I had met with in my journey; he was about twenty-eight years of age, and was treated with particular respect by his party. Every man, woman, and child carried a proportionate burden, consisting of beaver coating, and parchment, as well as skins of the otter, the marten, the bear, the lynx, and dressed moose-skins. The last they procure from the Rocky-Mountain {233}Indians. According to their account, the people of the sea coast prefer them to any other article. Several of their relations and friends, they said, were already gone, as well provided as themselves, to barter with the people of the coast; who barter them in their turn, except the dressed leather, with white people, who, as they had been informed, arrive there in large canoes.

Such an escort was the most fortunate circumstance that could happen in our favour. They told us, that as the women and children could not travel fast, we should be three days in getting to the end of our journey; which must be supposed to have been very agreeable infomation to people in our exhausted condition.

In about half an hour after we had joined our new acquaintance, the signal for moving onwards was given by the leader of the party, who vociferated, the words Huy, Huy, when his people joined him and continued a clamorous conversation. We passed along a winding road, over hills, and through swampy vallies, from South to West. We then crossed a deep, narrow river, which discharges itself into a lake, on whose side we stopped at five in the afternoon, for the night, though we had reposed several times since twelve at noon; so that our mode of travelling had undergone a very agreeable change. I compute {234}the distance of this day's journey at about twenty miles. In the middle of the day the weather was clear and sultry.

We all sat down on a very pleasant green spot, and were no sooner seated, than our guide and one of the party prepared to engage in play. They had each a bundle of about fifty small sticks, neatly polished, of the size of a quill, and five inches long: a certain number of these sticks had red lines round them; and as many of these as one of the players might find convenient were curiously rolled up in dry grass, and according to the judgment of his antagonist respecting their number and marks, he lost or won. Our friend was apparently the loser, as he parted with his bow and arrows, and several articles which I had given him.


  Tuesday, 16.—The weather of this morning was the same as yesterday; but our fellow-travellers were in no hurry to proceed, and I was under the necessity of pressing them into greater expedition, by representing the almost exhausted state of our provisions. They, however, assured us, that after the next night's sleep we should arrive at the river where they were going and that we should there get fish in great abundance. My young men, from an act of imprudence, deprived themselves last night of that rest {235}which was so necessary to them. One of the strangers asking them several questions respecting us, and concerning their own country, one of them gave such answers as were not credited by the audience; whereupon he demanded, in a very angry tone, if they thought he was disposed to tell lies, like the Rocky Mountain Indians; and one of that tribe happening to be of the party, a quarrel ensued, which might have been attended with the most serious consequences, if it had not been fortunately prevented by the interference of those who were not interested in the dispute.

Though our stock of provisions was getting so low, I determined, nevertheless, to hide about twenty pounds of pemmican, by way of providing against our return. I therefore left two of the men behind, with directions to bury it, as usual, under the place where we had made our fire.

Our course was about West-South-West by the side of the lake, and in about two miles we came to the end of it. Here was a general halt, when my men overtook us. I was now informed, that some people of another tribe were sent for, who wished very much to see us, two of whom would accompany us over the mountains; that, as for themselves, they had changed their mind, and intended to follow a small river which issued out of {236}the lake, and went in a direction very different from the line of our journey. This was a disappointment, which, though not uncommon to us, might have been followed by considerable inconveniences. It was my wish to continue with them whatever way they went; but neither my promises or entreaties would avail; these people were not to be turned from their purpose; and when I represented the low state of our provisions, one of them answered, that if we would stay with them all night, he would boil a kettle of fish-roes for us. Accordingly, without receiving any answer, he began to make preparation to fulfil his engagement. He took the roes out of a bag, and having bruised them between two stones, put them in water to soak. His wife then took an handful of dry grass in her hand, with which she squeezed them through her fingers; in the mean time her husband was employed in gathering wood to make a fire, for the purpose of heating stones. When she had finished her operation, she filled a water kettle nearly full of water, and poured the roes into it. When the stones were sufficiently heated, some of them were put into the kettle, and others were thrown in from time to time, till the water was in a state of boiling; the woman also continued stirring the contents of the kettle, till they were brought to a thick consistency; the stones {237}were then taken out, and the whole was seasoned with about a pint of strong rancid oil. The smell of this curious dish was sufficient to sicken me without tasting it, but the hunger of my people surmounted the nauseous meal. When unadulterated by the stinking oil, these boiled roes are not unpalatable food.

In the mean time four of the people who had been expected, arrived, and, according to the account given of them, were of two tribes whom I had not yet known. After some conversation, they proposed, that I should continue my route by their houses; but the old guide, who was now preparing to leave us, informed me that it would lengthen my journey; and by his advice I proposed to them to conduct us along the road which had already been marked out to us. This they undertook without the least hesitation; and, at the same time, pointed out to me the pass in the mountain, bearing South by East by compass. Here I had a meridian altitude, and took time.

At four in the afternoon we parted with our late fellow-travellers in a very friendly manner, and immediately forded the river. The wild parsnip, which luxuriates on the borders of the lakes and rivers, is a favourite food of the natives: they roast the tops of this plant, in their tender state, over the fire, and taking {238}off the outer rind, they are then a very palatable food.

We now entered the woods, and some time after arrived on the banks of another river that flowed from the mountain, which we also forded. The country soon after we left the river was swampy; and the fire having passed through it, the number of trees, which had fallen, added to the toil of our journey. In a short time we began to ascend, and continued ascending till nine at night. We walked upwards of fourteen miles, according to my computation, in the course of the day, though the strait line of distance might not be more than ten. Notwithstanding that we were surrounded by mountains covered with snow, we were very much tormented with musquitoes.


  Wednesday, 17.—Before the sun rose, our guides summoned us to proceed, when we descended into a beautiful valley, watered by a small river. At eight we came to the termination of it, where we saw a great number of moles, and began again to ascend. We now perceived many ground-hogs, and heard them whistle in every direction. The Indians went in pursuit of them, and soon joined us with a female and her litter, almost grown to their full size. They stripped off their skins, and gave the carcases to my people. They also pulled up a root, which appeared like a bunch {239}of white berries of the size of a pea; its shape was that of a fig, while it had the colour and taste of a potatoe.

We now gained the summit of the mountain, and found ourselves surrounded by snow. But this circumstance is caused rather by the quantity of snow drifted in the pass, than the real height of the spot, as the surrounding mountains rise to a much higher degree of elevation. The snow had become so compact that our feet hardly made a perceptible impression on it. We observed, however, the tracks of an herd of small deer which must have passed a short time before us, and the Indians and my hunters went immediately in pursuit of them. Our way was now nearly level, without the least snow, and not a tree to be seen in any part of it. The grass is very short, and the soil a reddish clay, intermixed with small stones. The face of the hills, where they are not enlivened with verdure, appears, at a distance, as if fire had passed over them. It now began to hail, snow, and rain, nor could we find any shelter but the leeward side of an huge rock. The wind also rose into a tempest, and the weather was as distressing as any I had ever experienced. After an absence of an hour and a half, our hunters brought a small doe of the rein-deer species, which was all they had killed, though they fired twelve shots at a {240}large herd of them. Their ill success they attributed to the weather. I proposed to leave half of the venison in the snow, but the men preferred carrying it, though their strength was very much exhausted. We had been so long shivering with cold in this situation that we were glad to renew our march. Here and there were scattered a few crow-berry bushes and stinted willows; the former of which had not yet blossomed.

Before us appeared a stupendous mountain, whose snow-clad summit was lost in the clouds; between it and our immediate course, flowed the river to which we were going. The Indians informed us that it was at no great distance. As soon as we could gather a sufficient quantity of wood, we stopped to dress some of our venison; and it is almost superfluous to add, that we made an heartier meal than we had done for many a day before. To the comfort which I have just mentioned, I added that of taking off my beard, as well as changing my linen, and my people followed the humanising example. We then set forwards, and came to a large pond, on whose bank we found a tomb, but lately made, with a pole, as usual, erected beside it, on which two figures of birds were painted, and by them the guides distinguished the tribe to which the deceased person belonged. One of them, very unceremoniously, opened the {241}bark and shewed us the bones which it contained, while the other threw down the pole, and having possessed himself of the feathers that were tied to it, fixed them on his own head. I therefore conjectured, that these funeral memorials belonged to an individual of a tribe at enmity with them.

We continued our route with a considerable degree of expedition, and as we proceeded the mountains appeared to withdraw from us. The country between them soon opened to our view, which apparently added to their awful elevation. We continued to descend till we came to the brink of a precipice, from whence our guides discovered the river to us, and a village on its banks. This precipice, or rather succession of precipices, is covered with large timber, which consists of the pine, the spruce, the hemlock, the birch, and other trees. Our conductors informed us, that it abounded in animals, which, from their description, must be wild goats. In about two hours we arrived at the bottom, where there is a conflux of two rivers, that issue from the mountains. We crossed the one which was to the left. They are both very rapid, and continue so till they unite their currents, forming a stream of about twelve yards in breadth. Here the timber was also very large; but I could not learn from our conductors why the most considerable hemlock trees {242}were stripped of their bark to the tops of them. I concluded, indeed, at that time that the inhabitants tanned their leather with it. Here were also the largest and loftiest elder and cedar trees that I had ever seen. We were now sensible of an entire change in the climate, and the berries were quite ripe.

The sun was about to set, when our conductors left us to follow them as well as we could. We were prevented, however, from going far astray, for we were hemmed in on both sides and behind by such a barrier as nature never before presented to my view. Our guides had the precaution to mark the road for us, by breaking the branches of trees as they passed. This small river must, at certain seasons, rise to an uncommon height and strength of current most probably on the melting of the snow; as we saw a large quantity of drift wood lying twelve feet above the immediate level of the river. This circumstance impeded our progress, and the protruding rocks frequently forced us to pass through the water. It was now dark, without the least appearance of houses, though it would be impossible to have seen them, if there had been any, at the distance of twenty yards, from the thickness of the woods. My men were anxious to stop for the night; indeed the fatigue they had suffered justified the proposal, and I left them to their choice; {243}but as the anxiety of my mind impelled me forwards, they continued to follow me, till I found myself at the edge of the woods; and, notwithstanding the remonstrances that were made, I proceeded, feeling rather than seeing my way, till I arrived at a house, and soon discovered several fires, in small huts, with people busily employed in cooking their fish. I walked into one of them without the least ceremony, threw down my burden, and, after shaking hands with some of the people, sat down upon it. They received me without the least appearance of surprize, but soon made signs for me to go up to the large house, which was erected, on upright posts, at some distance from the ground. A broad piece of timber with steps cut in it, led to the scaffolding even with the floor, and by this curious kind of ladder I entered the house at one end; and having passed three fires, at equal distances in the middle of the building, I was received by several people, sitting upon a very wide board, at the upper end of it. I shook hands with them, and seated myself beside a man, the dignity of whose countenance induced me to give him that preference. I soon discovered one of my guides seated a little above me, with a neat mat spread before him, which I supposed to be the place of honour, and appropriated to strangers.

{244}In a short time my people arrived, and placed themselves near me, when the man, by whom I sat, immediately rose, and fetched, from behind a plank of about four feet wide, a quantity of roasted salmon. He then directed a mat to be placed before me and Mr. Mackay, who was now sitting by me. When this ceremony was performed, he brought a salmon for each of us, and half an one to each of my men. The same plank also served as a screen for the beds, whither the women and children were already retired; but whether that circumstances took place on our arrival, or was the natural consequence of the late hour of the night, I did not discover. The signs of our protector seemed to denote that we might sleep in the house, but as we did not understand him with a sufficient degree of certainty, I thought it prudent, from the fear of giving offence, to order the men to make a fire without, that we might sleep by it. When he observed our design, he placed boards for us, that we might not take our repose on the bare ground, and ordered a fire to be prepared for us. We had not been long seated round it, when we received a large dish of salmon roes, pounded fine and beat up with water, so as to have the appearance of a cream. Nor was it without some kind of seasoning that gave it a bitter taste. Another dish soon followed, the principal {245}article of which was also salmon roes, with a large proportion of gooseberries, and an herb that appeared to be sorrel. Its acidity rendered it more agreeable to my taste than the former preparation. Having been regaled with these delicacies, for such they were considered by that hospitable spirit which provided them, we laid ourselves down to rest, with no other canopy than the sky; but I never enjoyed a more sound and refreshing rest, though I had a board for my bed, and a billet for my pillow.


  Thursday, 18.—At five this morning I awoke, and found that the natives had lighted a fire for us, and were sitting by it. My hospitable friend immediately brought me some berries and roasted salmon, and his companions soon followed his example. The former, which consisted among many others, of gooseberries, hurtleberries, and raspberries, were of the finest I ever saw or tasted, of their respective kinds. They also brought the dried roes of fish to eat with the berries.

Salmon is so abundant in this river, that these people have a constant and plentiful supply of that excellent fish. To take them with more facility, they had, with great labour, formed an embankment or weir across the river, for the purpose of placing their fishing machines, which they disposed both above and below it. I expressed my wish to {246}visit this extraordinary work, but these people are so superstitious, that they would not allow me a nearer examination than I could obtain by viewing it from the bank. The river is about fifty yards in breadth, and by observing a man fish with a dipping net, I judged it to be about ten feet deep at the foot of the fall. The weir is a work of great labour, and contrived with considerable ingenuity. It was near four feet above the level of the water, at the time I saw it, and nearly the height of the bank on which I stood to examine it. The stream is stopped nearly two-thirds by it. It is constructed by fixing small trees in the bed of the river, in a slanting position (which could be practicable only when the water is much lower than when I saw it) with the thick part downwards; over these is laid a bed of gravel, on which is placed a range of lesser trees, and so on alternately till the work is brought to its proper height. Beneath it the machines are placed, into which the salmon fall when they attempt to leap over. On either side there is a large frame of timber-work, six feet above the level of the upper water, in which passages are left for the salmon leading directly into the machines, which are taken up at pleasure. At the foot of the fall dipping nets are also successfully employed.

The water of this river is of the colour of {247}asses' milk, which I attributed in part to the limestone that in many places forms the bed of the river, but principally to the rivulets which fall from mountains of the same material.

These people indulge an extreme superstition respecting their fish, as it is apparently their only animal food. Flesh they never taste, and one of their dogs having picked and swallowed part of a bone which we had left, was beaten by his master till he disgorged it. One of my people also having thrown a bone of the deer into the river, a native, who had observed the circumstance, immediately dived and brought it up, and, having consigned it to the fire, instantly proceeded to wash his polluted hands.

As we were still at some distance from the sea, I made application to my friend to procure us a canoe or two, with people to conduct us thither. After he had made various excuses, I at length comprehended that his only objection was to the embarking venison in a canoe on their river, as the fish would instantly smell it and abandon them, so that he, his friends, and relations, must starve. I soon eased his apprehensions on that point, and desired to know what I must do with the venison that remained, when he told me to give it to one of the strangers whom he pointed out to me, as being of a tribe that eat {248}flesh. I now requested him to furnish me with some fresh salmon in its raw state; but, instead of complying with my wish, he brought me a couple of them roasted, observing at the same time, that the current was very strong, and would bring us to the next village, where our wants would be abundantly supplied, In short, he requested that we would make haste to depart. This was rather unexpected after so much kindness and hospitality, but our ignorance of the language prevented us from being able to discover the cause.

At eight this morning, fifteen men armed, the friends and relations of these people, arrived by land, in consequence of notice sent them in the night, immediately after the appearance of our guides. They are more corpulent and of a better appearance than the inhabitants of the interior. Their language totally different from any I had heard; the Atnah or Chin tribe, as far as I can judge from the very little I saw of that people, bear the nearest resemblance to them. They appear to be of a quiet and peaceable character, and never make any hostile incursions into the lands of their neighbours.

Their dress consists of a single robe tied over the shoulders, falling down behind, to the heels, and before, a little below the knees, with a deep fringe round the bottom. It is {249}generally made of the bark of the cedar tree, which they prepare as fine as hemp; though some of these garments are interwoven with strips of the sea-otter skin, which give them the appearance of a fur on one side. Others have stripes of red and yellow threads fancifully introduced toward the borders, which have a very agreeable effect. The men have no other covering than that which I have described, and they unceremoniously lay it aside when they find it convenient. In addition to this robe, the women wear a close fringe hanging down before them about two feet in length, and half as wide. When they sit down they draw this between their thighs. They wear their hair so short, that it requires: little care or combing. The men have their's in plaits, and being smeared with oil and red earth, instead of a comb they have a small stick hanging by a string from one of the locks, which they employ to alleviate any itching or irritation in the head. The colour of the eye is grey with a tinge of red. They have all high cheek-bones, but the women are more remarkable for that feature than the men. Their houses, arms, and utensils I shall describe hereafter.

I presented my friend with several articles, and also distributed some among others of the natives who had been attentive to us. One of my guides had been very serviceable {250}in procuring canoes for us to proceed on our expedition; he appeared also to be very desirous of giving these people a favourable impression of us; and I was very much concerned that he should leave me as he did, without giving me the least notice of his departure, or receiving the presents which I had prepared for him, and he so well deserved. At noon I had an observation which gave 52. 28. 11. North latitude.




{251}

CHAPTER IX.

JULY, 1793.

At one in the afternoon we embarked, with our small baggage, in two canoes, accompanied by seven of the natives, The stream was rapid, and ran upwards of six miles an hour. We came to a weir, such as I have already described, where the natives landed us, and shot over it without taking a drop of water. They then received us on board again, and we continued our voyage, passing many canoes on the river, some with people in them, and others empty. We proceeded at a very great rate for about two hours and a half, when we were informed that we must land, as the village was only at a short distance. I had imagined that the Canadians who accompanied me were the most expert canoe-men in the world, but they are very inferior to these people, as they themselves acknowledged, in conducting those vessels.

Some of the Indians ran before us, to announce our approach, when we took our bundles and followed. We had walked along a well-beaten path, through a kind of coppice, when we were informed of the arrival of our {252}couriers at the houses, by the loud and confused talking of the inhabitants. As we approached the edge of the wood, and were almost in sight of the houses, the Indians who were before me made signs for me to take the lead, and that they would follow. The noise and confusion of the natives now seemed to encrease, and when we came in sight of the village, we saw them running from house to house, some armed with bows and arrows, others with spears, and many with axes, as if in a state of great alarm, This very unpleasant and unexpected circumstance, I attributed to our sudden arrival, and the very short notice of it which had been given them. At all events, I had but one line of conduct to pursue, which was to walk resolutely up to them, without manifesting any signs of apprehension at their hostile appearance. This resolution produced the desired effect, for as we approached the houses, the greater part of the people laid down their weapons, and came forward to meet us. I was, however, soon obliged to stop from the number of them that surrounded me. I shook hands, as usual with such as were nearest to me, when an elderly man broke through the crowd, and took me in his arms; another then came, who turned him away without the least ceremony, and paid me the same compliment. The latter was {253}followed by a young man, whom I understood to be his son. These embraces, which at first rather surprised me, I soon found to be marks of regard and friendship. The crowd pressed with so much violence and contention to get a view of us, that we could not move in any direction. An opening was at length made to allow a person to approach me, whom the old man made me understand was another of his sons. I instantly stepped forward to meet him, and presented my hand, whereupon he broke the string of a very handsome robe of sea otter skin, which he had on, and covered me with it. This was as flattering a reception as I could possibly receive, especially as I considered him to be the eldest son of the chief. Indeed, it appeared to me that we had been detained here for the purpose of giving him time to bring the robe with which he had presented me.

The chief now made signs for us to follow him, and he conducted us through a narrow coppice, for several hundred yards, till we came to a house built on the ground, which was of larger dimensions, and formed of better materials than any I had hitherto seen; it was his residence. We were no sooner arrived there, than he directed mats to be spread before it, on which we were told to take our seats, when the men of the village, who came to indulge their curiosity, were {254}ordered to keep behind us. In our front other mats were placed, where the chief and his counsellors took their seats. In the intervening space, mats, which were very clean, and of a much neater workmanship than those on which we sat, were also spread, and a small roasted salmon placed before each of us. When we had satisfied ourselves with the fish, one of the people who came with us from the last village approached, with a kind of ladle in one hand, containing oil, and in the other something that resembled the inner rind of the cocoa-nut, but of a lighter colour, this he dipped in the oil, and, having eat it, indicated by his gestures how palatable he thought it. He then presented me with a small piece of it, which I chose to taste in its dry state, though the oil was free from any unpleasant smell. A square cake of this was next produced, when a man took it to the water near the house, and having thoroughly soaked it, he returned, and, after he had pulled it to pieces like oakum, put it into a well-made trough, about three feet long, nine inches wide, and five deep; he then plentifully sprinkled it with salmon oil, and manifested by his own example that we were to eat of it. I just tasted it, and found the oil perfectly sweet, without which the other ingredient would have been very insipid. The chief partook of it with great avidity, after it had {255}received an additional quantity of oil. This dish is considered by these people as a great delicacy, and on examination, I discovered it to consist of the inner rind of the hemlock tree, taken off early in summer, and put into a frame, which shapes it into cakes of fifteen inches long, ten broad, and half an inch thick; and in this form I should suppose it may be preserved for a great length of time. This discovery satisfied me respecting the many hemlock trees which I had observed stripped of their bark.

In this situation we remained for upwards of three hours, and not one of the curious natives left us during all that time, except a party of ten or twelve of them, whom the chief ordered to go and catch fish, which they did in great abundance, with dipping nets, at the foot of the Weir.

At length we were relieved from the gazing crowd, and got a lodge erected, and covered in for our reception during the night. I now presented the young chief with a blanket, in return for the robe with which he had favoured me, and several other articles, that appeared to be very gratifying to him. I also presented some to his father, and amongst them was a pair of scissors, whose use I explained to him, for clipping his beard, which was of great length; and to that purpose he immediately applied them. My distribution {256}of similar articles was also extended to others, who had been attentive to us. The communication, however, between us was awkward and inconvenient, for it was carried on entirely by signs, as there was not a person with me who was qualified for the office of an interpreter.

We were all of us very desirous to get some fresh salmon, that we might dress them in our own way, but could not by any means obtain that gratification, though there were thousands of that fish strung on cords, which were fastened to stakes in the river. They were even averse to our approaching the spot where they clean and prepare them for their own eating. They had, indeed, taken our kettle from us, lest we should employ it in getting water from the river; and they assigned as the reason for this precaution, that the salmon dislike the smell of iron. At the same time, they supplied us with wooden boxes, which were capable of holding any fluid. Two of the men who went to fish, in a canoe capable of containing ten people, returned with a full lading of salmon, that weighed from six to forty pounds, though the far greater part of them were under twenty. They immediately strung the whole of them, as I have already mentioned, in the river.

I now made the tour of the village, which consisted of four elevated houses, and seven {257}built on the ground, besides a considerable number of other buildings or sheds, which are used only as kitchens, and places for curing their fish. The former are constructed by fixing a certain number of posts in the earth, on some of which are laid, and to others are fastened, the supporters of the floor, at about twelve feet above the surface of the ground; their length is from a hundred to a hundred and twenty feet, and they are about forty in breadth. Along the centre are built three, four, or five hearths, for the two-fold purpose of giving warmth, and dressing their fish. The whole length of the building on either side is divided by cedar planks, into partitions or apartments of seven feet square, in the front of which there are boards, about three feet wide, over which, though they are not immovably fixed, the inmates of these recesses generally pass, when they go to rest. The greater part of them are intended for that purpose, and such are covered with boards, at the height of the wall of the house, which is about seven or eight feet, and rest upon beams that stretch across the building. On those also are placed the chests which contain their provisions, utensils, and whatever they possess. The intermediate space is sufficient for domestic purposes. On poles that run along the beams, hang roasted fish, and the whole {258}building is well covered with boards and bark, except within a few inches of the ridge pole; where open spaces are left on each side to let in light and emit the smoke. At the end of the house that fronts the river, is a narrow scaffolding, which is also ascended by a piece of timber, with steps cut in it; and at each corner of this erection there are openings for the inhabitants to ease nature. As it does not appear to be a custom among them to remove these heaps of excremental filth, it may be supposed that the effluvia does not annoy them.

The houses which rest on the ground are built of the same materials, and on the same plan. A sloping stage that rises to a cross piece of timber, supported by two forks, joins also to the main building, for those purposes which need not be repeated.

When we were surrounded by the natives on our arrival, I counted sixty-five men, and several of them may be supposed to have been absent; I cannot, therefore, calculate the inhabitants of this village at less than two hundred souls.

The people who accompanied us hither, from the other village, had given the chief a very particular account of everything they knew concerning us: I was, therefore, requested to produce my astronomical instruments, nor could I have any objection to {259}afford them this satisfaction, as they would necessarily add to our importance in their opinion.

Near the house of the chief I observed several oblong squares, of about twenty feet by eight. They were made of thick cedar boards, which were joined with so much neatness, that I at first thought they were one piece. They were painted with hieroglyphics, and figures of different animals, and with a degree of correctness that was not to be expected from such an uncultivated people. I could not learn the use of them, but they appeared to be calculated for occasional acts of devotion or sacrifice, which all these tribes perform at least twice in the year, at the spring and fall. I was confirmed in this opinion by a large building in the middle of the village, which I at first took for the half finished frame of a house. The groundplot of it was fifty feet by forty-five; each end is formed by four stout posts, fixed perpendicularly in the ground. The corner ones are plain, and support a beam of the whole length, having three intermediate props on each side, but of a larger size, and eight or nine feet in height. The two centre posts, at each end, are two feet and a half in diameter, and carved into human figures, supporting two ridge poles on their heads, at twelve feet from the ground. The figures at the {260}upper part of this square represent two persons, with their hands upon their knees, as if they supported the weight with pain and difficulty; the others opposite to them stand at their ease, with their hands resting on their hips. In the area of the building there were the remains of several fires. The posts, poles, and figures, were painted red and black; but the sculpture of these people is superior to their painting.


  Friday, 19.—Soon after I retired to rest last night, the chief paid me a visit to insist on my going to his bed-companion, and taking my place himself; but, notwithstanding his repeated entreaties, I resisted this offering of his hospitality.

At an early hour this morning, I was again visited by the chief, in company with his son. The former complained of a pain in his breast; to relieve his suffering, I gave him a few drops of Turlington's Balsam on a piece of sugar; and I was rather surprised to see him take it without the least hesitation. When he had taken my medicine, he requested me to follow him, and conducted me to a shed, where several people were assembled round a sick man, who was another of his sons. They immediately uncovered him, and showed me a violent ulcer in the small of his back, in the foulest state that can be imagined. One of his knees was also afflicted in the same {261}manner. This unhappy man was reduced to a skeleton, and, from his appearance, was drawing near to an end of his pains. They requested that I would touch him, and his father was very urgent with me to administer medicine; but he was in such a dangerous state, that I thought it prudent to yield no further to the importunities than to give the sick man a few drops of Turlington's Balsam in some water. I therefore left them, but was soon called back by the loud lamentations of the women, and was rather apprehensive that some inconvenience might result from my compliance with the chief's request. On my return I found the native physicians busy in practising their skill and art on the patient. They blew on him, and then whistled; at times they pressed their extended fingers, with all their strength, on his stomach; they also put their forefingers doubled into his mouth, and spouted water from their own with great violence into his face. To support these operations, the wretched sufferer was held up in a sitting posture; and when they were concluded, he was laid down and covered with a new robe made of the skins of the lynx. I had observed that his belly and breast were covered with scars, and I understood that they were caused by a custom prevalent among them, of applying pieces of lighted touch-wood to their flesh, in order to {262}relieve pain or demonstrate their courage. He was now placed on a broad plank, and carried by six men into the woods, where I was invited to accompany them. I could not conjecture what would be the end of this ceremony, particularly as I saw one man carry fire, another an axe, and a third dry wood. I was indeed, disposed to suspect that, as it was their custom to burn the dead, they intended to relieve the poor man from his pain, and perform the last sad duty of surviving affection. When they advanced a short distance into the woods, they laid him upon a clear spot, and kindled a fire against his back, when the physician began to scarify the ulcer with a very blunt instrument, the cruel pain of which operation the patient bore with incredible resolution. The scene afflicted me, and I left it.

On my return to our lodge, I observed before the door of the chief's residence, four heaps of salmon, each of which consisted of between three and four hundred fish. Sixteen women were employed in cleaning and preparing them. They first separate the head from the body, the former of which they boil; they then cut the latter down the back on each side of the bone, leaving one third of the fish adhering to it, and afterwards take out the guts. The bone is roasted for immediate use, and the other parts are dressed {263}in the same manner, but with more attention, for future provision. While they are before the fire, troughs are placed under them to receive the oil. The roes are also carefully preserved, and form a favourite article of their food.

After I had observed these culinary preparations, I paid a visit to the chief, who presented me with a roasted salmon; he then opened one of his chests, and took out of it a garment of blue cloth, decorated with brass buttons; and another of flowered cotton, which I supposed were Spanish; it had been trimmed with leather fringe, after the fashion of their own cloaks. Copper and brass are in great estimation among them, and of the former they have great plenty: they point their arrows and spears with it, and work it up into personal ornaments; such as collars, ear-rings, and bracelets, which they wear on their wrists, arms, and legs. I presume they find it the most advantageous articles of trade with the more inland tribes. They also abound in iron. I saw some of their twisted collars of that metal which weighed upwards of twelve pounds. It is generally beat in bars of fourteen inches in length, and one inch three quarters wide. The brass is in thin squares: their copper is in larger pieces, and some of it appeared to be old stills cut up. They have various {264}trinkets; but their manufactured iron consists only of poignards and daggers. Some of the former have very neat handles, with a silver coin of a quarter or eighth of a dollar fixed on the end of them.—The blades of the latter are from ten to twelve inches in length, and about four inches broad at the top, from which they gradually lessen to a point.

When I produced my instruments to take an altitude, I was desired not to make use of them. I could not then discover the cause of this request, but I experienced the good effect of the apprehension, which they occasioned, as it was very effectual in hastening my departure. I had applied several times to the chief to prepare canoes and people to take me and my party to the sea, but very little attention had been paid to my application till noon; when I was informed that a canoe was properly equipped for my voyage, and that the young chief would accompany me. I now discovered that they had entertained no personal fear of the instruments, but were apprehensive that the operation of them might frighten the salmon from that part of the river. The observation taken in this village gave me 52. 25. 52. North latitude.

In compliance with the chief's request I desired my people to take their bundles, and lay them down on the bank of the river. In {265}the mean time I went to take the dimensions of his large canoe, in which, it was signified to me, that about ten winters ago he went a considerable distance toward the mid-day sun, with forty of his people, when he saw two large vessels full of such men as myself, by whom he was kindly received: they were, he said, the first white people he had seen. They were probably the ships commanded by Captain Cook. This canoe was built of cedar, was forty-five feet long, four feet wide, and three feet and a half in depth. It was painted black and decorated with white figures of fish of different kinds. The gunwale, fore and aft, was inlaid with the teeth of the sea-otter.[1]

When I returned to the river, the natives who were to accompany us and my people, were already in the canoe. The latter, however, informed me, that one of our axes was missing. I immediately applied to the chief, and requested its restoration; but he would not understand me till I sat myself down on a stone, with my arms in a state of preparation, and made it appear to him that I should {266}not depart till the stolen article was restored. The village was immediately in a state of uproar, and some danger was apprehended from the confusion that prevailed in it. The axe, however, which had been hidden under the chief's canoe, was soon returned. Though this instrument was not, in itself, of sufficient value to justify a dispute with these people, I apprehended that the suffering them to keep it, after we had declared its loss, might have occasioned the loss of every thing we carried with us, and of our lives also. My people were dissatisfied with me at the moment; but I thought myself right then, and, I think now, that the circumstances in which we were involved, justified the measure which I adopted.

[1] As Captain Cook has mentioned, that the people of the sea-coast adorned their canoes with human teeth, I was more particular in my inquiries; the result of which was, the most satisfactory proof that he was mistaken; but his mistake arose from the very great resemblance there is between human teeth and those of the sea-otter.




{267}

CHAPTER X.

JULY, 1793.

  Saturday, 18.—At one in the afternoon we renewed our voyage in a large canoe with four of the natives. We found the river almost one continued rapid, and in half an hour we came to a house, where, however, we did not land, though invited by the inhabitants. In about an hour we arrived at two houses, where we were, in some degree, obliged to go on shore, as we were informed that the owner of them was a person of consideration. He indeed received and regaled us in the same manner as at the last village; and to increase his consequence, he produced many European articles, and amongst them were at least forty pounds weight of old copper stills. We made our stay as short as possible, and our host embarked with us. In a very short time we were carried by the rapidity of the current to another house of very large dimensions, which was partitioned into different apartments, and whose doors were on the side. The inhabitants received us with great kindness; but instead of fish, they placed a long, clean, and well made trough before us full of berries. In addition to {268}those which we had already seen, there were some black, that were larger than the hurtleberry, and of a richer flavour; others white, which resembled the blackberry in everything but colour. Here we saw a woman with two pieces of copper in her under lip, as described by Captain Cook. I continued my usual practice of making these people presents in return for their friendly reception and entertainment.

[Transcriber's Note: By context, the date above should read Friday, 19.]

The navigation of the river now became more difficult, from the numerous channels into which it was divided, without any sensible diminution in the velocity of its current. We soon reached another house of the common size, where we were well received; but whether our guides had informed them that we were not in want of anything, or that they were deficient in inclination, or perhaps the means, of being hospitable to us, they did not offer us any refreshment. They were in a state of busy preparation. Some of the women were employed in beating and preparing the inner rind of the cedar bark, to which they gave the appearance of flax. Others were spinning with a distaff and spindle. One of them was weaving a robe of it, intermixed with stripes of the sea-otter skin, on a frame of adequate contrivance that was placed against the side of the house. The men were fishing on the river with drag-nets between {269}two canoes. These nets are forced by poles to the bottom, the current driving them before it; by which means the salmon coming up the river are intercepted, and give notice of their being taken by the struggles they make in the bag or sleeve of the net. There are no weirs in this part of the river, as I suppose, from the numerous channels into which it is divided. The machines, therefore, are placed along the banks, and consequently these people are not so well supplied with fish as the village which has been already described, nor do they appear to possess the same industry. The inhabitants of the last house accompanied us in a large canoe. They recommended us to leave ours here, as the next village was but at a small distance from us, and the water more rapid than that which we had passed. They informed us also, that we were approaching a cascade. I directed them to shoot it, and proceeded myself to the foot thereof, where I re-embarked, and we went on with great velocity, till we came to a fall, where we left our canoe, and carried our luggage along a road through a wood for some hundred yards, when we came to a village, consisting of six very large houses, erected on pallisades, rising twenty-five feet from the ground, which differed in no one circumstance from those already described, but the height of their elevation. {270}They contained only four men and their families. The rest of the inhabitants were with us and in the small houses which we passed higher up the river.[1] These people do not seem to enjoy the abundance of their neighbours, as the men who returned from fishing had no more than five salmon; they refused to sell one of them, but gave me one roasted of a very indifferent kind. In the houses there were several chests or boxes containing different articles that belonged to the people whom we had lately passed. If I were to judge by the heaps of filth beneath these buildings, they must have been erected at a more distant period than any which we had passed. From these houses I could perceive the termination of the river, and its discharge into a narrow arm of the sea.

As it was now half past six in the evening, and the weather cloudy, I determined to remain here for the night, and for that purpose we possessed ourselves of one of the unoccupied houses. The remains of our last meal, which we brought with us, served for our supper, as we could not procure a single fish from the natives. The course of the river is about West, and the distance from the great village upwards of thirty-six miles.—{271}There we had lost our dog, a circumstance of no small regret to me.


  Saturday, 20.—We rose at a very early hour this morning, when I proposed to the Indians to run down our canoe, or procure another at this place. To both these proposals they turned a deaf ear, as they imagined that I should be satisfied with having come in sight of the sea. Two of them peremptorily refused to proceed; but the other two having consented to continue with us, we obtained a larger canoe than our former one, and though it was in a leaky state we were glad to possess it.

At about eight we got out of the river, which discharges itself by various channels into an arm of the sea. The tide was out, and had left a large space covered with sea-weed. The surrounding hills were involved in fog. The wind was at West, which was ahead of us, and very strong; the bay appearing to be from one to three miles in breadth. As we advanced along the land we saw a great number of sea-otters. We fired several shots at them, but without any success from the rapidity with which they plunge under the water. We also saw many small porpoises or divers. The white-headed eagle, which is common in the interior parts; some small gulls, a dark bird which is inferior in size to the gull, and a few small ducks, {272}were all the birds which presented themselves to our view.

At two in the afternoon the swell was so high, and the wind, which was against us, so boisterous, that we could not proceed with our leaky vessel, we therefore landed in a small cove on the right side of the bay. Opposite to us appeared another small bay, in the mouth of which is an island, and where, according to the information of the Indians, a river discharges itself that abounds in salmon.

Our young Indians now discovered a very evident disposition to leave us; and, in the evening, one of them made his escape. Mr. Mackay, however, with the other, pursued and brought him back; but as it was by no means necessary to detain him, particularly as provisions did not abound with us, I gave him a small portion, with a pair of shoes, which were necessary for his journey, and a silk handkerchief, telling him at the same time, that he might go and inform his friends, that we should also return in three nights. He accordingly left us, and his companion, the young chief, went with him.

When we landed, the tide was going out, and at a quarter past four it was ebb, the water having fallen in that short period eleven feet and an half. Since we left the river, not a quarter of an hour had passed in which {273}we did not see porpoises and sea-otters. Soon after ten it was high water, and rendered it necessary that our baggage should be shifted several times, though not till some of the things had been wetted.

We were now reduced to the necessity of looking out for fresh water, with which we were plentifully supplied by the rills that ran down from the mountains.

When it was dark the young chief returned to us, bearing a large porcupine on his back. He first cut the animal open, and having disencumbered it of the entrails, threw them into the sea; he then singed its skin, and boiled it in separate pieces, as our kettle was not sufficiently capacious to contain the whole; nor did he go to rest, till with the assistance of two of my people who happened to be awake, every morsel of it was devoured.

I had flattered myself with the hope of getting a distance of the moon and stars, but the cloudy weather continually disappointed me, and I began to fear that I should fail in this important object; particularly as our provisions were at a very low ebb, and we had, as yet, no reason to expect any assistance from the natives. Our stock was, at this time, reduced to twenty pounds weight of pemmican, fifteen pounds of rice, and six pounds of flour, among ten half-starved men, in a leaky vessel, and on a barbarous coast. {274} Our course from the river was about West-South-West, distance ten miles.


  Sunday, 21.—At forty minutes past four this morning it was low water, which made fifteen feet of perpendicular height below the high-water mark of last night. Mr. Mackay collected a quantity of small muscles which we boiled. Our people did not partake of this regale, as they are wholly unacquainted with sea shell-fish. Our young chief being missing, we imagined that he had taken his flight, but, as we were preparing to depart, he fortunately made his appearance from the woods, where he had been to take his rest after his feast of last night.

At six we were upon the water, when we cleared the small bay, which we named Porcupine Cove, and steered West-South-West for seven miles, we then opened a channel about two miles and a half wide at South-South-West, and had a view of ten or twelve miles into it.

As I could not ascertain the distance from the open sea, and being uncertain whether we were in a bay or among inlets and channels of islands, I confined my search to a proper place for taking an observation. We steered, therefore, along the land on the left, West-North-West a mile and a half; then North-West one fourth of a mile, and North three miles to an island the land continuing {275}to run North-North-West, then along the island, South-South-West half a mile, West a mile and a half, and from thence directly across to the land on the left, (where I had an altitude,) South-West three miles.[2] From this position a channel, of which the island we left appeared to make a check, bears North by East.

Under the land we met with three canoes, with fifteen men in them, and laden with their moveables, as if proceeding to a new situation, or returning to a former one. They manifested no kind of mistrust or fear of us, but entered into conversation with our young man, as I supposed, to obtain some information concerning us. It did not appear that they were the same people as those we had lately seen, as they spoke the language of our young chief, with a different accent. They then examined everything we had in our canoe, with an air of indifference and disdain. One of them in particular made me understand, with an air of insolence, that a large canoe had lately been in this bay, with people in her like me, and that one of them, whom he called Macubah had fired on him and his friends, and that Bensins had struck him on the back, with the flat part of his sword. He also mentioned another name, the articulation of which I could not {276}determine. At the same time he illustrated these circumstances by the assistance of my gun and sword; and I do not doubt but he well deserved the treatment which he described. He also produced several European articles, which could not have been long in his possession. From his conduct and appearance, I wished very much to be rid of him, and flattered myself that he would prosecute his voyage, which appeared to be in an opposite direction to our course.

However, when I prepared to part from them, they turned their canoes about, and persuaded my young man to leave me, which I could not prevent.

We coasted along the land[3] at about West-South-West for six miles, and met a canoe with two boys in it, who were dispatched to summon the people on that part of the coast to join them. The troublesome fellow now forced himself into my canoe, and pointed out a narrow channel on the opposite shore, that led to his village, and requested us to steer towards it, which I accordingly ordered. His importunities now became very irksome, and he wanted to see everything we had, particularly my instruments, concerning which he must have received information from my young man. He asked for my hat, my handkerchief, and in short, everything that he {277}saw about me. At the same time he frequently repeated the unpleasant intelligence that he had been shot at by people of my colour. At some distance from the land a channel opened to us, at South-West by West, and pointing that way, he made me understand that Macubah came there with his large canoe. When we were in mid-channel, I perceived some sheds, or the remains of old buildings on the shore; and as, from that circumstance I thought it probable that some Europeans might have been there I directed my steersman to make for that spot. The traverse is upwards of three miles North-West.

We landed, and found the ruins of a village, in a situation calculated for defence. The place itself was overgrown with weeds, and in the centre of the houses there was a temple, of the same form and construction as that which I described at the large village. We were soon followed by ten canoes, each of which contained from three to six men. They informed us that we were expected at the village, where we should see many of them. From their general deportment I was very apprehensive that some hostile design was meditated against us, and for the first time I acknowledged my apprehensions to my people. I accordingly desired them to be very much upon their guard, and to be {278}prepared if any violence was offered to defend themselves to the last.

We had no sooner landed, than we took possession of a rock, where there was not space for more than twice our number, and, which admitted of our defending ourselves with advantage, in case we should be attacked. The people in the three first canoes, were the most troublesome, but, after doing their utmost to irritate us, they went away.

They were, however, no sooner gone, than a hat, a handkerchief, and several other articles, were missing. The rest of our visitors continued their pressing invitations to accompany them to their village, but finding our resolution to decline them was not to be shaken, they, about sun-set relieved us from all further importunities, by their departure.

Another canoe, however, soon arrived, with seven stout, well-looking men. They brought a box, which contained a very fine sea-otter skin, and a goat skin that was beautifully white. For the former they demanded my hanger, which, as may well be supposed, could not be spared in our present situation, and they actually refused to take a yard and a half of common broad cloth, with some other articles, for the skin, which proves the unreflecting improvidence of our European traders. The goat-skin was so bulky that I did not offer to purchase it. These men also {279}told me that Macubah had been there, and left his ship behind a point of land in the channel, South-West from us; from whence he had come to their village in boats, which these people represented by imitating our manner of rowing. When I offered them what they did not choose to accept for the otter-skin, they shook their heads, and very distinctly answered, "No, no." And to mark their refusal of anything we asked from them, they emphatically employed the same British monosyllable. In one of the canoes which had left us, there was a seal, that I wished to purchase, but could not persuade the natives to part with it. They had also a fish, which I now saw for the first time. It was about eighteen inches in length, of the shape and appearance of a trout, with strong sharp teeth. We saw great numbers of the animals which we had taken for sea-otters, but I was new disposed to think that a great part of them, at least, must have been seals. The natives having left us, we made a fire to warm ourselves, and as for supper, there was but little of that, for our whole daily allowance did not amount to what was sufficient for a single meal. The weather was clear throughout the day, which was succeeded by a fine moon-light night. I directed the people to keep watch by two in turn, and laid myself down on my cloak.


{280}  Monday, 22.—This morning the weather was clear and pleasant; nor had anything occurred to disturb us throughout the night. One solitary Indian, indeed, came to us with about half a pound of boiled seal's flesh, and the head of a small salmon, for which he asked a handkerchief, but afterwards accepted a few beads. As this man came alone, I concluded that no general plan had been formed among the natives to annoy us, but this opinion did not altogether calm the apprehensions of my people.

Soon after eight in the morning, I took five altitudes for time, and the mean of them was 36 48' at six in the afternoon, 58. 34. time, by the watch, which makes the achrometer slow apparent time 1h 21m 44s.

Two canoes now arrived from the same quarter as the rest, with several men, and our young Indian along with them. They brought a very few small sea-otter skins, out of season, with some pieces of raw seal's flesh. The former were of no value, but hunger compelled some of my people to take the latter, at an extravagant price. Mr. Mackay lighted a bit of touch-wood with a burning-glass, in the cover of his tobacco-box, which so surprised the natives, that they exchanged the best of their otter skins for it. The young man was now very anxious to per suede our people to depart, as the natives, he {281}said, were as numerous as musquitoes, and of very malignant character. This information produced some very earnest remonstrances to me to hasten our departure, but as I was determined not to leave this place, except I was absolutely compelled to it, till I had ascertained its situation, these solicitations were not repeated.

While I was taking a meridian, two canoes, of a larger size, and well manned, appeared from the main South-West channel. They seemed to be the fore-runners of others, who were coming to co-operate with the people of the village, in consequence of the message sent by the two boys, which has been already mentioned; and our young Indian, who understood them, renewed his entreaties for our departure, as they would soon come to shoot their arrows, and hurl their spears at us. In relating our dangers his agitation was so violent, that he foamed at the mouth. Though I was not altogether free from apprehensions on the occasion, it was necessary for me disguise them, as my people were panic struck, and some of them asked if it was my determination to remain there to be sacrificed? My reply was the same as their former importunities had received, that I would not stir till I had accomplished my object; at the same time, to humour their fears, I consented that they should put everything into {282}the canoe, that we might be in a state of preparation to depart. The two canoes now approached the shore, and in a short time, five men, with their families, landed very quietly from them. My instruments being exposed, they examined them with much apparent admiration and astonishment. My altitude, by an artificial horizon, gave 52 21' 33"; that by the natural horizon was 52 20' 48" North latitude.[4]

These Indians were of a different tribe from those which I had already seen, as our guide did not understand their language. I now mixed up some vermilion in melted grease, and inscribed, in large characters, on the South-East face of the rock on which we had slept last night, this brief memorial—"Alexander Mackenzie, from Canada, by land, the twenty-second of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three."

As I thought that we were too near the village, I consented to leave this place, and accordingly proceeded North-East three miles, when we landed on a point, in a small cove, where we should not be readily seen, and could not be attacked except in our front.

Among other articles that had been stolen from us, at our last station, was a {283}sounding-line, which I intended to have employed in this bay, though I should not probably have found the bottom, at any distance from the shore, as the appearance both of the water and land indicated a great depth. The latter displayed a solid rock, rising as it appeared to me, from three to seven hundred feet above high water mark. Where any soil was scattered about, there were cedars, spruce-firs, white birch, and other trees of large growth. From its precipices issued streams of fine water, as cold as ice.

The two canoes which we had left at our last station, followed us hither, and when they were preparing to depart, our young chief embarked with them. I was determined, however, to prevent his escape, and compelled him, by animal force, to come on shore, for I thought it much better to incur his displeasure than to suffer him to expose himself to any untoward accident among strangers, or to return to his father before us. The men in the canoe made signs for him to go over the hill, and that they would take him on board at the other side of it. As I was necessarily engaged in other matters, I desired my people to take care that he should not run away; but they peremptorily refused to be employed in keeping him against his will. I was, therefore, reduced to the necessity of watching him myself.

{284}I took five altitudes, and the mean of them was 29. 23. 48, at 3. 5. 53. in the afternoon, by the watch, which makes it slow apparent time.

                   1h 22m 38s
  In the forenoon} 1  21  44     2  44  22
    it was       }
                   ----------    ----------
                 Mean of both    1  22  11

  Difference of nine hours go- }         8
    ing of the time-piece slow }
                                 1  22  19

I observed an emersion of Jupiter's third satellite, which gave 8 32' 21. difference of longitude. I then observed an emersion of Jupiter's first satellite, which gave 8 31' 48. The mean of these observations is 8 32' 2. which is equal to 128. 2. West of Greenwich.

I had now determined my situation, which is the most fortunate circumstance of my long, painful, and perilous journey, as a few cloudy days would have prevented me from ascertaining the final longitude of it.[5]

{285}At twelve it was high water, but the tide did not come within a foot and an half of the high water mark of last night. As soon as I had completed my observations, we left this place: it was then ten o'clock in the afternoon. We returned the same way that we came, and though the tide was running out very strong, by keeping close in with the rocks, we proceeded at a considerable rate, as my people were very anxious to get out of the reach of the inhabitants of this coast.


  Tuesday, 23.—During our course we saw several fires on the land to the Southward, and after the day dawned, their smokes were visible. At half past four this morning we arrived at our encampment of the night of the 21st, which had been named Porcupine Cove. The tide was out, and considerably lower than we found it when we were here before; the high-water mark being above the place where we had made our fire. This fluctuation must be occasioned by the action of the wind upon the water, in those narrow channels.

{286}As we continued onwards, towards the river, we saw a canoe, well manned, which at first made from us with great expedition, but afterwards waited, as if to reconnoitre us; however, it kept out of our way, and allowed us to pass. The tide being much lower than when we were here before, we were under the necessity of landing a mile below the village. We observed that stakes were fixed in the ground along the bay, and in some places machines were fastened to them, as I afterwards learned, to intercept the seals and otters. These works are very extensive, and must have been erected with no common labour. The only bird we saw to-day was the white headed eagle.[6]

Our guide directed us to draw the canoe out of the reach of the tide and to leave it. He would not wait, however, till this operation was performed, and I did not wish to let him go alone. I therefore followed him through a bad road encumbered with under-wood. When we had quitted the wood, and were in sight of the houses, the young man being about fifteen or twenty paces before me, I was surprised to see two men running down towards me from one of the houses, with daggers in their hands and fury in their aspect. From their hostile appearance, I could not doubt of their purpose. I {287}therefore stopped short, threw down my cloak, and put myself in a posture of defence, with my gun presented towards them. Fortunately for me, they knew the effect of firearms, and instantly dropped their daggers, which were fastened by a string to their wrists, and had before been held in a menacing attitude. I let my gun also fall into my left hand, and drew my hanger. Several others soon joined them, who were armed in the same manner; and among them I recognised the man whom I have already mentioned as being so troublesome to us, and who now repeated the names of Macuba and Benzins, signifying at the same time by his action, as on a former occasion, that he had been shot at by them. Until I saw him my mind was undisturbed; but the moment he appeared, conceiving that he was the cause of my present perilous situation, my resentment predominated, and if he had come within my reach, I verily believe, that I should have terminated his insolence forever.

The rest now approached so near, that one of them contrived to get behind me, and grasped me in his arms. I soon disengaged myself from him; and, that he did not avail himself of the opportunity which he had of plunging his dagger into me, I cannot conjecture. They certainly might have overpowered me, and though I should probably have killed {288} one or two of them, I must have fallen at last.

One of my people now came out of the wood. On his appearance they instantly took to flight, and with the utmost speed sought shelter in the houses from whence they had issued. It was, however, upwards of ten minutes before all my people joined me; and as they came one after the other, these people might have successively dispatched every one of us. If they had killed me, in the first instance, this consequence would certainly have followed, and not one of us would have returned home to tell the horrid fate of his companions.

After having stated the danger I had encountered, I told my people that I was determined to make these natives feel the impropriety of their conduct toward us, and compel them to return my hat and cloak which they had taken in the scuffle, as well as the articles previously purloined from us, for most of the men who were in the three canoes that we first saw, were now in the village. I therefore told my men to prime their pieces afresh, and prepare themselves for an active use of them, if the occasion should require it.

We now drew up before the house, and made signs for some one to come down to us. At length our young chief appeared, and told us that the men belonging to the canoes had {289}not only informed his friends, that we had treated him very ill, but that we had killed four of their companions whom he had met in the bay. When I had explained to them as well as it was in my power, the falsehood of such a story, I insisted on the restoration of everything that had been taken from us, as well as a necessary supply of fish, as the conditions of my departure; accordingly the things were restored, and a few dried fish along with them. A reconciliation now took place, but our guide or young chief was so much terrified that he would remain no longer with us, and requested us to follow with his father's canoe, or mischief would follow. I determined, however, before my departure, to take an observation, and at noon got a meridian altitude, making this place, which I named Rascal's Village, 52. 23. 43. North latitude.

On my informing the natives that we wanted something more to eat, they brought us two salmon; and when we signified that we had no poles to set the canoe against the current, they were furnished with equal alacrity, so anxious were they for our departure. I paid, however, for everything which we had received, and did not forget the loan of the canoe.

[1] Mr. Johnstone came to these houses the first day of the preceding month.

[2] The Cape or Point Menzies of Vancouver.

[3] Named by Vancouver King's Island.

[4] This I found to be the cheek of Vancouver's Cascade Canal.

[5] Mr. Meares was undoubtedly wrong in the idea, so earnestly insisted on by him, in his voyage, that there was was North-West practicable passage to the Southward of sixty-nine degrees and an half of latitude, as I flatter myself has been proved by my former voyage. Nor can I refrain from expressing my surprise at his assertion, that there was an inland sea or archipelago of great extent between the islands of Nootka and the main, about the latitude where I was at this time. Indeed I have been informed that Captain Grey, who commanded an American vessel, and on whose authority he ventured this opinion, denies that he had given Mr. Meares any such information. Besides, the contrary is indubitably proved by Captain Vancouver's survey, from which no appeal can be made.

[6] This bay was now named Mackenzie's Outlet.




{290}

CHAPTER XI.

JULY, 1793.

The current of the river was so strong, that I should have complied with the wishes of my people, and gone by land, but one of my Indians was so weak, that it was impossible for him to perform the journey. He had been ill some time; and, indeed, we had been all of us more or less afflicted with colds on the sea coast. Four of the people therefore set of with the canoe, and it employed them an hour to get half a mile. In the mean time the native, who has been already mentioned as having treated us with so much insolence, and four of his companions, went up the river in a canoe, which they had above the rapid, with as many boxes as men in her. This circumstance was the cause of fresh alarm, as it was generally concluded that they would produce the same mischief and danger in the villages above, as they had in that below. Nor was it forgotten that the young chief had left us in a manner which would not be interpreted in our favour by his father and friends.

At length the canoe arrived, and the people declared in the most unreserved terms, {291}that they would proceed no further in her; but when they were made acquainted with the circumstances which have just been described, their violence increased, and the greater part of the men announced their determination to attempt the mountains, and endeavour, by passing over them, to gain the road by which we came to the first village. So resolved were they to pursue this plan, that they threw everything which they had into the river, except their blankets. I was all this time sitting patiently on a stone, and indulging the hope that, when their frantic terror had subsided, their returning reason would have disposed them to perceive the rashness of their project; but when I observed that they persisted in it, I no longer remained a silent listener to their passionate declarations, but proceeded to employ such arguments as I trusted would turn them from their senseless and impracticable purpose. After reproving my young Indian in very severe terms, for encouraging the rest to follow their mad design of passing the mountains, I addressed myself generally to them, stating the difficulty of ascending the mountains, the eternal snows with which they were covered, our small stock of provisions, which two days would exhaust, and the consequent probability that we should perish with cold and hunger. I urged the folly of being {292}affected by the alarm of danger which might not exist, and if it did, I encouraged them with the means we possessed of surmounting it. Nor did I forget to urge the inhumanity and injustice of leaving the poor sick Indian to languish and die. I also added, that as my particular object had been accomplished, I had now no other but our common safety; that the sole wish of my heart was to employ the best means in my power, and to pursue the best method which my understanding could suggest, to secure them and myself from every danger that might impede our return.

My steersman, who had been with me for five years in that capacity, instantly replied that he was ready to follow me wherever I should go, but that he would never again enter that canoe, as he had solemnly sworn he would not, while he was in the rapid. His example was followed by all the rest, except two, who embarked with Mr. Mackay,[1] myself, and the sick Indian. The current, however, was so strong, that we dragged up the greatest part of the way, by the branches of trees. Our progress, as may be imagined, was very tedious, and attended with uncommon labour; the party who went by land {293}being continually obliged to wait for us. Mr. Mackay's gun was carried out of the canoe and lost, at a time when we appeared to stand in very great need of it, as two canoes, with sixteen or eighteen men, were coming down the stream; and the apprehensions which they occasioned did not subside till they shot by us with great rapidity.

At length we came in sight of the house, when we saw our young Indian with six others, in a canoe coming to meet us. This was a very encouraging circumstance, as it satisfied us that the natives who had preceded, and whose malignant designs we had every reason to suspect, had not been able to prejudice the people against us. We, therefore, landed at the house, where we were received in a friendly manner, and having procured some fish, we proceeded on our journey.

It was almost dark when we arrived at the next house, and the first persons who presented themselves to our observation were the turbulent Indian and his four companions. They were not very agreeable objects; but we were nevertheless well received by the inhabitants, who presented us with fish and berries. The Indians who had caused us so much alarm, we now discovered to be inhabitants of the islands, and traders in various articles, such as cedar-bark, prepared to be {294}wove into mats, fish-spawn, copper, iron, and beads, the latter of which they get on their own coast. For these they receive in exchange roasted salmon, hemlock bark cakes, and the other kind made of salmon roes, sorrel, and bitter berries. Having procured as much fish as would serve us for our supper, and the meals of the next day, all my people went to rest except one, with whom I kept the first watch.


  Wednesday, 24.—After twelve last night, I called up Mr. Mackay, and one of the men, to relieve us, but as a general tranquillity appeared to prevail in the place, I recommended them to return to their rest. I was the first awake in the morning, and sent Mr. Mackay to see if our canoe remained where we left it; but he returned to inform me that the Islanders had loaded it with their articles of traffic, and were ready to depart. On this intelligence I hurried to the water side, and seizing the canoe by the stem, I should certainly have overset it, and turned the three men that were in it, with all their merchandise, into the river, had not one of the people of the house, who had been very kind to us, informed me, that this was their own canoe, and that my guide had gone off with ours. At the same moment the other two Indians who belonged to the party, jumped nimbly into it, and pushed off with all the haste and {295}hurry that their fears may be supposed to dictate.

We now found ourselves once more without a guide or a canoe. We were, however, so fortunate as to engage, without much difficulty, two of these people to accompany us; as, from the strength of the current, it would not have been possible for us to have proceeded by water without their assistance. As the house was upon an island, we ferried over the pedestrian party to the main bank of the river and continued our course till our conductors came to their fishing ground, when they proposed to land us, and our small portion of baggage; but as our companions were on the opposite shore, we could not acquiesce, and after some time persuaded them to proceed further with us. Soon after we met the chief who had regaled us in our voyage down the river. He was seining between two canoes, and had taken a considerable quantity of salmon. He took us on board with him, and proceeded upwards with great expedition. These people are surprisingly skilful and active in setting against a strong current. In the roughest part they almost filled the canoe with water, by way of a sportive alarm to us.

We landed at the house of the chief, and he immediately placed a fish before me. Our people now appeared on the opposite bank, when a canoe was sent for them. As soon as {296}they had made their meal of fish, they proceeded on their route, and we followed them; the chief and one of the natives having undertaken to conduct us.

At five in the afternoon we came to two houses, which we had not seen in going down. They were upon an island, and I was obliged to send for the walking party, as our conductors, from the lateness of the hour, refused to proceed any further with us till the next day. One of our men, being at a small distance before the others, had been attacked by a female bear with two cubs, but another of them arrived to his rescue, and shot her. Their fears probably prevented them from killing the two young ones. They brought a part of the meat, but it was very indifferent. We were informed, that our former guide, or young chief, had passed this place, at a very early hour of the morning, on foot.

These people take plenty of another fish, besides salmon, which weigh from fifteen to forty pounds. This fish is broader than the salmon, of a greyish colour, and with a hunch on its back: the flesh is white, but neither rich nor well flavoured. Its jaw and teeth are like those of a dog, and the latter are larger and stronger than any I had ever seen in a fish of equal size: those in front bend inwards, like the claws of a bird of prey. It {297}delights in shallow water, and its native name is Dilly.

We received as many fish and berries from these people as completely satisfied our appetites. The latter excelled any of the kind that we had seen. I saw also, three kinds of gooseberries, which, as we passed through the woods, we found in great abundance.


  Thursday, 25.—I arose before the sun, and the weather was very fine. The men who were to accompany us went to visit their machines, and brought back plenty of fish, which they strung on a rope, and left them in the river. We now embarked thirteen in a canoe, and landed my men on the South bank, as it would have been impracticable to have stemmed the tide with such a load. The underwood was so thick that it was with great difficulty they could pass through it. At nine we were under the necessity of waiting to ferry them over a river from the South, which is not fordable. After some time we came to two deserted houses, at the foot of a rapid, beyond which our boatmen absolutely refused to conduct us by water. Here was a road which led opposite to the village. We had, however, the curiosity to visit the houses, which were erected upon posts, and we suffered very severely for the indulgence of it; for the doors were covered with fleas, and we were immediately in the same condition, for {298}which we had no remedy but to take to the water. There was not a spot round the houses free from grass, that was not alive, as it were, with this vermin.

Our guides proposed to conduct us on our way, and we followed them on a well-beaten track. They, however, went so fast, that we could not all of us keep up with them, particularly our sick Indian, whose situation was very embarrassing to us, and at length they contrived to escape. I very much wished for these men to have accompanied us to the village, in order to do away any ill impressions which might have arisen from the young chief's report to his father, which we were naturally led to expect would not be in our favour.

This road conducted us through the finest wood of cedar trees that I had ever seen. I measured several of them that were twenty-four feet in the girth, and of a proportionate height. The alder trees are also of an uncommon size; several of them were seven feet and an half in circumference, and rose to forty feet without a branch; but my men declared that they had, in their progress, seen much larger of both kinds. The other wood was hemlock; white birch, two species of spruce-firs, willows, &c. Many of the large cedars appeared to have been examined, as I suppose by the natives, for the purpose of {299}making canoes, but finding them hollow at heart, they were suffered to stand. There was but little underwood, and the soil was a black rich mould, which would well reward the trouble of cultivation. From the remains of bones on certain spots, it is probable that the natives may have occasionally burned their dead in this wood.

As it was uncertain what our reception might be at the village, I examined every man's arms and ammunition, and gave Mr. Mackay, who had unfortunately lost his gun, one of my pistols. Our late conductors had informed us that the man whom we left in a dying state, and to whom I had administered some Turlington's balsam, was dead; and it was by no means improbable that I might be suspected of hastening his end.

At one in the afternoon we came to the bank of the river, which was opposite to the village, which appeared to be in a state of perfect tranquillity. Several of the natives were fishing above and below the weir, and they very readily took us over in their canoes. The people now hurried down to the water side, but I perceived none of the chief's family among them. They made signs to me to go to his house; I signified to them not to crowd about us, and indeed drew a line, beyond which I made them understand they must not pass. I now directed Mr. Mackay, {300}and the men to remain there, with their arms in readiness, and to keep the natives at a distance, as I was determined to go alone to the chief's house; and if they should hear the report of my pistols, they were ordered to make the best of their way from these people, as it would then be equally fruitless and dangerous to attempt the giving me any assistance, as it would be only in the last extremity, and when I was certain of their intention to destroy me, that I should discharge my pistols. My gun I gave to Mr. Mackay, when, with my loaded pistols in my belt, and a poignard in my hand, I proceeded to the abode of the chief. I had a wood to pass in my way thither, which was intersected by various paths and I took one that led to the back, instead of the front of the house; and as the whole had been very much altered since I was here before, I concluded that I had lost my way. But I continued to proceed, and soon met with the chief's wife, who informed me, that he was at the next house. On my going round it, I perceived that they had thrown open the gable ends, and added two wings, nearly as long as the body, both of which were hung round with salmon as close as they could be placed. As I could discover none of the men, I sat down upon a large stone near some women who were supping on salmon roes and berries. They {301}invited me to partake of their fare, and I was about to accept their invitation when Mr. Mackay joined me, as both himself and all my party were alarmed at my being alone. Nor was his alarm lessened by an old man whom he met in the wood, and who made use of signs to persuade him to return. As he came without his gun, I gave him one of my pistols. When I saw the women continue their employment without paying the least attention to us, I could not imagine that any hostile design was preparing against us. Though the non-appearance of the men awakened some degree of suspicion that I should not be received with the same welcome as on my former visit. At length the chief appeared, and his son, who had been our guide, following him; displeasure was painted in the old man's countenance, and he held in his hand a bead tobacco pouch which belonged to Mr. Mackay, and the young chief had purloined from him. When he had approached within three or four yards of me, he threw it at me with great indignation, and walked away. I followed him, however, until he had passed his son, whom I took by the hand, but he did not make any very cordial return to my salutation; at the same time he made signs for me to discharge my pistol, and give him my hanger which Mr. Mackay had brought me, but I did not {302}pay the least attention to either of his demands.

We now joined the chief, who explained to me that he was in a state of deep distress for the loss of his son, and made me understand that he had cut off his hair and blackened his face on the melancholy occasion. He also represented the alarm which he had suffered respecting his son who had accompanied us; as he apprehended we had killed him, or had all of us perished together. When he had finished his narrative, I took him and his son by their hands, and requested them to come with me to the place where I had left my people, who were rejoiced to see us return, having been in a state of great anxiety from our long absence. I immediately remunerated the young chief for his company and assistance in our voyage to the sea, as well as his father, for his former attentions. I gave them cloth and knives, and, indeed, a portion of everything which now remained to us. The presents had the desired effect of restoring us to their favour; but these people are of so changeable a nature, that there is no security with them. I procured three robes and two otter-skins, and if I could have given such articles in exchange as they preferred, I should probably have obtained more. I now represented the length of the way which I had to go, and requested some {303}fish to support us on our journey, when he desired us to follow him to the house, where mats were immediately arranged and a fish placed before each of us.

We were now informed, that our dog, whom we had lost, had been howling about the village ever since we left it, and that they had reason to believe he left the woods at night to eat the fish he could find about the houses. I immediately dispatched Mr. Mackay, and a man, in search of the animal, but they returned without him.

When I manifested my intention to proceed on my journey, the chief voluntarily sent for ten roasted salmon, and having attended us with his son, and a great number of his people, to the last house in the village, we took our leave. It was then half past three in the afternoon.

I directed Mr. Mackay to take the lead, and the others to follow him in Indian files, at a long and steady pace, as I determined to bring up the rear. I adopted this measure from a confusion that was observable among the natives which I did not comprehend. I was not without my suspicions that some mischief was in agitation, and they were increased from the confused noise we heard in the village. At the same time a considerable number came running after us; some of them making signs for us to stop, and others {304}rushing by me. I perceived also, that those who followed us were the strangers who live among these people, and are kept by them in a state of awe and subjection; and one of them made signs to me that we were taking a wrong road. I immediately called out to Mr. Mackay to stop. This was naturally enough taken for an alarm, and threw my people into great disorder. When, however, I was understood, and we had mustered again, our Indian informed us, that the noise we heard was occasioned by a debate among the natives, whether they should stop us or not. When, therefore, we had got into the right road, I made such arrangements as might be necessary for our defence, if we should have an experimental proof that our late and fickle friends were converted into enemies.

Our way was through a forest of stately cedars, beneath a range of lofty hills, covered with rocks, and without any view of the river. The path was well beaten, but rendered incommodious by the large stones which lay along it.

As we were continuing our route, we all felt the sensation of having found a lost friend at the sight of our dog; but he appeared, in a great degree, to have lost his former sagacity. He ran in a wild way backwards and forwards; and though he kept our {305}road, I could not induce him to acknowledge his master. Sometimes he seemed disposed to approach as if he knew us; and then, on a sudden, he would turn away, as if alarmed at our appearance. The poor animal was reduced almost to a skeleton, and we occasionally dropped something to support him, and by degrees he recovered his former sagacity.

When the night came on we stopped at a small distance from the river, but did not venture to make a fire. Every man took his tree, and laid down in his clothes, and with his arms, beneath the shade of its branches. We had removed to a short distance from the path; no sentinel was now appointed, and every one was left to watch for his own safety.


  Friday, 26.—After a very restless, though undisturbed night, we set forward as soon as day appeared, and walked on with all possible expedition, till we got to the upper, which we now called Friendly Village, and was the first we visited on our outward journey.

It was eight in the morning of a very fine day when we arrived, and found a very material alteration in the place since we left it. Five additional houses had been erected and were filled with salmon: the increase of inhabitants was in the same proportion. We were received with great kindness, and a messenger was dispatched to inform the chief, {306}whose name was Soocomlick, and who was then at his fishing-weir, of our arrival. He immediately returned to the village to confirm the cordial reception of his people; and having conducted us to his house, entertained us with the most respectful hospitality. In short, he behaved to us with so much attention and kindness, that I did not withhold anything in my power to give, which might afford him satisfaction. I presented him with two yards of blue cloth, an axe, knives, and various other articles. He gave me in return a large shell which resembled the under shell of a Guernsey oyster, but somewhat larger. Where they procured them I could not discover, but they cut and polish them for bracelets, ear-rings, and other personal ornaments. He regretted that he had no sea-otter skins to give me, but engaged to provide abundance of them whenever either my friends or myself should return by sea; an expectation which I thought it right to encourage among these people. He also earnestly requested me to bring him a gun and ammunition. I might have procured many curious articles at this place, but was prevented by the consideration that we must have carried them on our backs upwards of three hundred miles through a mountainous country. The young chief, to his other acts of kindness, added as large a supply of fish as we choose to take.

{307}Our visit did not occasion any particular interruption of the ordinary occupation of the people; especially of the women, who were employed in boiling sorrel, and different kinds of berries, with salmon-roes, in large square kettles of cedar wood. This pottage, when it attained a certain consistency, they took out with ladles, and poured it into frames of about twelve inches square and one deep, the bottom being covered with a large leaf, which were then exposed to the sun till their contents became so many dried cakes. The roes that are mixed up with the bitter berries, are prepared in the same way. From the quantity of this kind of provision, it must be a principal article of food, and probably of traffic. These people have also portable chests of cedar, in which they pack them, as well as their salmon, both dried and roasted. It appeared to me that they eat no flesh, except such as the sea may afford them, as that of the sea-otter and the seal. The only instance we observed to the contrary, was in a young Indian who accompanied us among the islands, and has been already mentioned as feasting on the flesh of a porcupine; whether this be their custom throughout the year, or only during the season of the salmon fishery; or, whether there were any castes of them, as in India, I cannot pretend to determine. It is certain, however, that they are not hunters, {308}and I have already mentioned the abhorrence they expressed at some venison which we brought to their village. During our former visit to these people, they requested us not to discharge our fire-arms, lest the report should frighten away the salmon, but now they expressed a wish that I should explain the use and management of them. Though their demeanour to us was of the most friendly nature, and they appeared without any arms, except a few who accidentally had their daggers, I did not think it altogether prudent to discharge our pieces; I therefore fired one of my pistols at a tree marked for the purpose, when I put four out of five buck shot with which it was loaded, into the circle, to their extreme astonishment and admiration.

These people were in general of the middle stature, well set, and better clothed with flesh than any of the natives of the interior country. Their faces are round, with high cheek bones, and their complexion between the olive and the copper. They have small grey eyes, with a tinge of red; they have wedge heads, and their hair is of a dark brown colour, inclining to black. Some wear it long, keep it well combed, and let it hang loose over their shoulders, while they divide and tie it in knots over the temples. Others arrange its plaits, and bedaub it with brown earth, so as to render it impervious to the {309}comb; they, therefore, carry a bodkin about them to ease the frequent irritation, which may be supposed to proceed from such a state of the head. The women are inclined to be fat, wear their hair short, and appear to be very subject to swelled legs, a malady that probably proceeds from the posture in which they are always sitting: as they are chiefly employed in the domestic engagements of spinning, weaving, preparing the fish, and nursing their children, which did not appear to be numerous. Their cradle differed from any that I had seen; it consisted of a frame fixed round a board of sufficient length, in which the child, after it has been swathed, is placed on a bed of moss, and a conductor contrived to carry off the urinary discharge. They are slung over one shoulder by means of a cord fastened under the other, so that the infant is always in a position to be readily applied to the breast, when it requires nourishment. I saw several whose heads were inclosed in boards covered with leather, till they attain the form of a wedge. The women wear no clothing but the robe, either loose or tied round the middle with a girdle, as the occasion may require, with the addition of a fringed apron, already mentioned, and a cap, in the form of an inverted bowl or dish. To the robe and cap, the men add, when it rains, a circular mat with an opening in the {310}middle sufficient to admit the head, which extending over the shoulders, throws off the wet. They also occasionally wear shoes of dressed moose-skin, for which they are indebted to their neighbors. Those parts, which among all civilized nations are covered from familiar view, are here openly exposed.

They are altogether dependent on the sea and rivers for their sustenance, so that they may be considered as a stationary people; hence it is that the men engage in those toilsome employments, which the tribes who support themselves by the chase, leave entirely to the women. Polygamy is permitted among them, though, according to my observation, most of the men were satisfied with one wife, with whom, however, chastity is not considered as a necessary virtue. I saw but one woman whose under lip was split and disfigured with an appendant ornament. The men frequently bathe, and the boys are continually in the water. They have nets and lines of various kinds and sizes, which are made of cedar bark, and would not be known from those made of hemp. Their hooks consist of two pieces of wood or bone, forming when fixed together, an obtuse angle.

Their spears or darts are from four to sixteen feet in length; the barb or point being fixed in a socket, which, when the animal is struck, slips from it: thus the barb being {311}fastened by a string to the handle, remains as a buoy; or enables the aquatic hunter to tire and take his prey. They are employed against sea-otters, seals, and large fish.

Their hatchets are made principally of about fourteen inches of bar-iron, fixed into a wooden handle, as I have already described them; though they have some of bone or horn: with these, a mallet and wooden wedge, they hew their timbers and form their planks. They must also have other tools with which they complete and polish their work, but my stay was so short, my anxiety so great, and my situation so critical, that many circumstances may be supposed to have escaped me.

Their canoes are made out of the cedar tree, and will carry from eight to fifty persons.

Their warlike weapons, which, as far as I could judge, they very seldom have occasion to employ, are bows and arrows, spears, and daggers. The arrows are such as have been already described, but rather of a slighter make. The bows are not more than two feet and an half in length; they are formed of a slip of red cedar; the grain being on one side untouched with any tool, while the other is secured with sinews 'attached to it by a kind of glue. Though this weapon has a very slender appearance, it throws an arrow with great force, and to a considerable distance. Their spears are about ten feet long, and {312}pointed with iron. Their daggers are of various kinds, being of British, Spanish, and American Manufacture.

Their household furniture consists of boxes, troughs, and dishes formed of wood, with different vessels made of watape. These are employed, according to their several applications, to contain their valuables, and provisions, as well as for culinary purposes, and to carry water. The women make use of muscle-shells to split and clean their fish, and which are very well adapted to that purpose.

Their ornaments are necklaces, collars, bracelets for the arms, wrists, and legs, with ear-rings, &c.

They burn their dead, and display their mourning, by cutting their hair short, and blackening their faces. Though I saw several places where bodies had been burned, I was surprised at not seeing any tomb or memorial of the dead, particularly when their neighbours are so superstitiously attentive to the erection and preservation of them.

From the number of their canoes, as well as the quantity of their chests and boxes, to contain their moveables, as well as the insufficiency of their houses, to guard against the rigours of a severe winter, and the appearance of the ground around their habitations, it is evident that these people reside {313}here only during the summer or salmon season, which does not probably last more than three months. It may be reasonably inferred, therefore, that they have villages on the sea-coast, which they inhabit during the rest of the year. There it may be supposed they leave the sick, the infirm, and the aged; and thither they may bear the ashes of those who die at the place of their summer residence.

Of their religion I can say but little, as my means of observation were very contracted. I could discover, however, that they believed in a good and evil spirit: and that they have some forms of worship to conciliate the protection of one, and perhaps to avert the enmity of the other, is apparent from the temples which I have described; and where, at stated periods, it may be presumed they hold the feasts, and perform the sacrifices, which their religion, whatever it may be, has instituted as the ceremonials of their public worship.

From the very little I could discover of their government, it is altogether different from any political regulation which had been remarked by me among the savage tribes. It is on this river alone that one man appears to have an exclusive and hereditary right to what was necessary to the existence of those who are associated with him. I allude to the salmon weir, or fishing place, the sole {314}right to which confers on the chief an arbitrary power. Those embankments could not have been formed without a very great and associated labour; and, as might be supposed, on the condition that those who assisted in constructing it should enjoy a participating right in the advantages to be derived from it. Nevertheless, it evidently appeared to me, that the chief's power over it, and the people, was unlimited, and without control. No one could fish without his permission, or carry home a larger portion of what he had caught, than was set apart for him. No one could build a house without his consent; and all his commands appeared to be followed with implicit obedience. The people at large seemed to be on a perfect equality, while the strangers among them were obliged to obey the commands of the natives in general or quit the village. They appear to be of a friendly disposition, but they are subject to sudden gusts of passion, which are as quickly composed; and the transition is instantaneous, from violent irritation to the most tranquil demeanor. Of the many tribes of savage people whom I have seen, these appear to be the most susceptible of civilization. They might soon be brought to cultivate the little ground about them which is capable of it. There is a narrow border of a rich black soil, on either side of the river, over a bed of {315}gravel, which would yield any grain or fruit that are common to similar latitudes in Europe.

The very few words which I collected of their language, are as follows:—


 Zimilk,         Salmon.
 Dilly,          A fish of the size of a salmon, with canine teeth.
 Sepnas,         Hair of the head.
 Kietis,         An axe.
 Clougus,        Eyes.
 Itzas,          Teeth.
 Ma-acza,        Nose.
 Ich-yeh,        Leg.
 Shous-shey      Hand.
 Watts,          Dog.
 Zla-achle,      House.
 Zimnez,         Bark mat robe.
 Couloun,        Beaver or otter ditto.
 Dichts,         Stone.
 Neach,          Fire.
 Ulkan,          Water.
 Gits com,       A mat.
 Shiggimis,      Thread.
 Till-kewan,     Chest or box.
 Thlogatt,       Cedar bark.
 Achimoul,       Beads got upon their coast.
 Il-caiette,     A bonnet.
 Couny,          A clam shell.
 Nochasky,       A dish composed of berries and salmon roes.
 Caiffre,        What?

[1] It is but common justice to him, to mention in this place that I had every reason to be satisfied with his conduct.




{316}

CHAPTER XII.

JULY, 1793.

At eleven in the morning we left this place, which I called Friendly Village, accompanied by every man belonging to it, who attended us about a mile, when we took a cordial leave of them; and if we might judge from appearances, they parted from us with regret.

In a short time we halted to make a division of our fish, and each man had about twenty pounds weight of it, except Mr. Mackay and myself, who were content with shorter allowance, that we might have less weight to carry. We had also a little flour, and some pemmican. Having completed this arrangement with all possible expedition, we proceeded onwards, the ground rising gradually, as we continued our route. When we were clear of the wood, we saw the mountain towering above, and apparently of impracticable ascent. We soon came to the fork of the river, which was at the foot of the precipice, where the ford was three feet deep, and very rapid. Our young Indian, though much recovered, was still too weak to cross the water, and with some difficulty I carried him over on my back.

{317}It was now one in the afternoon, and we had to ascend the summit of the first mountain before night came on, in order to look for water. I left the sick Indian, with his companion and one of my men, to follow us, as his strength would permit him. The fatigue of ascending these precipices I shall not attempt to describe, and it was past five when we arrived at a spot where we could get water, and in such an extremity of weariness, that it was with great pain any of us could crawl about to gather wood for the necessary purpose of making a fire. To relieve our anxiety, which began to increase every moment for the situation of the Indian, about seven he and his companions arrived; when we consoled ourselves by sitting round a blazing fire, talking of past dangers, and indulging the delightful reflection that we were thus far advanced on our homeward journey. Nor was it possible to be in this situation without contemplating the wonders of it. Such was the depth of the precipices below, and the height of the mountains above, with the rude and wild magnificence of the scenery around, that I shall not attempt to describe such an astonishing and awful combination of objects; of which, indeed, no description can convey an adequate idea. Even at this place, which is only, as it were, the first step towards gaining the summit of the {318}mountains, the climate was very sensibly changed. The air that fanned the village which we left at noon, was mild and cheering; the grass was verdant, and the wild fruits ripe around it. But here the snow was not yet dissolved, the ground was still bound by the frost, the herbage had scarce begun to spring, and the crowberry bushes were just beginning to blossom.


  Saturday, 27.—So great was our fatigue of yesterday, that it was late before we proceeded to return over the mountains, by the same route which we had followed in our outward journey. There was little or no change in the appearance of the mountains since we passed them, though the weather was very fine.


  Sunday, 28.—At nine this morning we arrived at the spot, where we slept with the natives on the 16th instant, and found our pemmican in good condition where we had buried it.

The latitude of this place, by observation, when I passed, I found to be 52. 46. 32. I now took time, and the distance between sun and moon. I had also an azimuth, to ascertain the variation.

We continued our route with fine weather, and without meeting a single person on our way, the natives being all gone, as we supposed, to the Great River. We recovered all {319}our hidden stores of provisions, and arrived about two in the afternoon of Sunday, August the 4th, at the place which we had left a month before.

A considerable number of Indians were encamped on the opposite side of the small river, and in consequence of the weather, confined to their lodges: as they must have heard of, if not seen us, and our arms being out of order from the rain, I was not satisfied with our situation; but did not wish to create an alarm. We, therefore, kept in the edge of the wood, and called to them, when they turned out like so many furies, with their arms in their hands, and threatening destruction if we dared to approach their habitations. We remained in our station till their passion and apprehensions had subsided, when our interpreter gave them the necessary information respecting us. They proved to be strangers to us, but were the relations of those whom we had already seen here, and who, as they told us, were upon an island at some distance up the river. A messenger was accordingly sent to inform them of our arrival.


  Monday, 5.—On examining the canoe, and our property, which we had left behind, we found it in perfect safety, nor was there the print of a foot near the spot. We now pitched our tent, and made a blazing fire, and I treated myself, as well as the people, with a {320}dram; but we had been so long without tasting any spirituous liquor, that we had lost all relish for it. The Indians now arrived from above, and were rewarded for the care they had taken of our property with such articles as were acceptable to them.

At nine this morning I sent five men in the canoe, for the various articles we had left below, and they soon returned with them, and except some bale goods, which had got wet, they were in good order, particularly the provisions, of which we were now in great need.

Many of the natives arrived both from the upper and lower parts of the river, each of whom was dressed in a beaver robe. I purchased fifteen of them; and they preferred large knives in exchange. It is an extraordinary circumstance, that these people, who might have taken all the property we left behind us, without the least fear of detection, should leave that untouched, and purloin any of our utensils, which our confidence in their honesty gave them a ready opportunity of taking. In fact, several articles were missing, and as I was very anxious to avoid a quarrel with the natives, in this stage of our journey, I told those who remained near us, without any appearance of anger, that their relations who were gone, had no idea of the mischief that would result to them from {321}taking our property. I gravely added, that the salmon, which was not only their favourite food, but absolutely necessary to their existence, came from the see which belonged to us white men; and that as, at the entrance of the river, we could prevent those fish from coming up it, we possessed the power to starve them and their children. To avert our anger, therefore, they must return all the articles that had been stolen from us. This finesse succeeded. Messengers were dispatched to order the restoration of everything that had been taken. We purchased several large salmon of them and enjoyed the delicious meal which they afforded.

At noon this day, which I allotted for repose, I got a meridian altitude, which gave 53. 24. 10. I also took time. The weather had been cloudy at intervals.

Every necessary preparation had been made yesterday for us to continue our route to-day; but before our departure, some of the natives arrived with part of the stolen articles; the rest, they said, had been taken by people down the river, who would be here in the course of the morning, and recommended their children to our commiseration, and themselves to our forgiveness.

The morning was cloudy, with small rain, nevertheless I ordered the men to load the {322}canoe, and we proceeded in high spirits on finding ourselves once more so comfortably together in it. We landed at a house on the first island, where we procured a few salmon, and four fine beaver skins. There had been much more rain in these parts than in the country above, as the water was pouring down the hills in torrents. The river consequently rose with great rapidity, and very much impeded our progress.

The people on this river are generally of the middle size, though I saw many tall men among them. In the cleanliness of their persons they resemble rather the Beaver Indians than the Chepewyans. They are ignorant of the use of fire arms, and their only weapons are bows and arrows, and spears. They catch the larger animals in snares, but though their country abounds in them, and the rivers and lakes produce plenty of fish, they find a difficulty in supporting themselves, and are never to be seen but in small bands of two or three families. There is no regular government among them; nor do they appear to have a sufficient communication or understanding with each other, to defend themselves against an invading enemy, to whom they fall an easy prey. They have all the animals common on the West side of the mountains, except the buffalo and the wolf; at least we saw none of the latter, and there {323}being none of the former, it is evident that their progress is from the South-East. The same language is spoken, with very little exception from the extent of my travels down this river, and in a direct line from the North-East head of it in the latitude 53. or 54. to Hudson's Bay; so that a Chepewyan, from which tribe they have all sprung, might leave Churchill River, and proceeding in every direction to the North-West of this line without knowing any language except his own, would understand them all: I except the natives of the sea coast, who are altogether a different people. As to the people to the Eastward of this river, I am not qualified to speak of them.

At twelve we ran our canoe upon a rock, so that we were obliged to land in order to repair the injury she had received; and as the rain came on with great violence, we remained here for the night. The salmon were now driving up the current in such large shoals, that the water seemed, as it were, to be covered with the fins of them.


  Wednesday, 7.—About nine this morning the weather cleared, and we embarked. The shoals of salmon continued as yesterday. There were frequent showers throughout the day, and every brook was deluged into a river. The water had risen at least one foot and an half perpendicular in the last {324}twenty-four hours. In the dusk of the evening we landed for the night.


  Thursday, 8.—The water continued rising during the night; so that we were disturbed twice in the course of it, to remove our baggage. At six in the morning we were on our way, and proceeded with continual and laborious exertion, from the increased rapidity of the current. After having passed the two carrying places of Rocky Point, and the Long Portage, we encamped for the night.


  Friday, 9.—We set off at five, after a rainy night and in a foggy morning. The water still retained its height. The sun, however, soon beamed upon us; and our clothes and baggage were in such a state that we landed to dry them. After some time we re-embarked and arrived at our first encampment on this river about seven in the evening. The water fell considerably in the course of the day.


  Saturday, 10.—The weather was cloudy with slight showers, and at five this morning we embarked, the water falling as fast as it had risen. This circumstance arises from the mountainous state of the country on either side of the river, from whence the water rushes down almost as fast as it falls from the heavens, with the addition of the snow it melts in its way. At eight in the evening we stopped for the night.


{325}  Sunday, 11.—At five this morning we proceeded with clear weather. At ten we came to the foot of the long rapid, which we ascended with poles much easier than we expected. The rapids that were so strong and violent in our passage downwards, were now so reduced, that we could hardly believe them to be the same. At sunset we landed and encamped.


  Monday, 12.—The weather was the same as yesterday, and we were on the water at a very early hour. At nine we came to a part of the river where there was little or no current. At noon we landed to gum the canoe, when I took a meridian altitude, which gave 54. 11. 36. North latitude. We continued our route nearly East, and at three in the afternoon approached the fork, when I took time, and the distance between the sun and moon. At four in the afternoon we left the main branch. The current was quite slack, as the water had fallen six feet, which must have been in the course of three days. At sunset we landed and took our station for the night.


  Tuesday, 13.—There was a very heavy rain in the night, and the morning was cloudy; we renewed our voyage, however, at a very early hour, and came to the narrow gut between the mountains of rock, which was a passage of some risk; but fortunately {326}the state of the water was such, that we got up without any difficulty, and had more time to examine these extraordinary rocks than in our outward passage. They are as perpendicular as a wall, and give the idea of a succession of enormous Gothic churches. We were now closely hemmed in by the mountains, which had lost much oh their snow since our former passage by them. We encamped at a late hour, cold, wet, and hungry: for such was the state of our provisions, that our necessary allowance did not answer to the active cravings of our appetites.


  Wednesday, 14.—The weather was cold and raw, with small rain, but our necessities would not suffer us to wait for a favourable change of it, and at half past five we arrived at the swampy carrying-place, between this branch and the small river. At three in the afternoon the cold was extreme, and the men could not keep themselves warm even by their violent exertions which our situation required; and I now gave them the remainder of our rum to fortify and support them. The canoe was so heavy that the lives of two of them were endangered in this horrible carrying-place. At the same time it must be observed, that from the fatiguing circumstances of our journey, and the inadequate state of our provisions, the natural strength of the {327}men had been greatly diminished. We encamped on the banks of the bad river.


  Thursday, 15.—The weather was now clear, and the sun shone upon us. The water was much lower than in the downward passage, but was cold as ice, and, unfortunately, the men were obliged to be continually in it to drag on the canoe. There were many embarras, through which a passage might have been made, but we were under the necessity of carrying both the canoe and baggage.

About sun-set we arrived at our encampment of the 13th of June, where some of us had nearly taken our eternal voyage. The legs and feet of the men were so benumbed, that I was very apprehensive of the consequence. The water being low, we made a search for our bag of ball, but without success. The river was full of salmon, and another fish like the black bass.


  Friday, 16.—The weather continued to be the same as yesterday, and at two in the afternoon we came to the carrying-place which leads to the first small lake; but it was so filled with drift wood, that a considerable portion of time was employed in making our way through it. We now reached the high land which separates the source of the Tacoutche Tesse, or Columbia River, and Unjigah, or Peace River: the latter of which, after receiving many tributary streams, passes {328}through the great Slave Lake, and disembogues itself in the Frozen Ocean, in latitude 69. 30. North, longitude 135 West from Greenwich; while the former, confined by the immense mountains that run nearly parallel with the Pacific Ocean, and keep it in a Southern course, empties itself in 46. 20. North latitude and longitude 124 West from Greenwich.

If I could have spared the time, and had been able to exert myself, for I was now afflicted with a swelling in my ancles, so that I could not even walk, but with great pain and difficulty, it was my intention to have taken some salmon alive, and colonised them in the Peace River, though it is very doubtful whether that fish would live in waters that have not a communication with the sea.

Some of the inhabitants had been here since we passed; and I apprehend, that on seeing our road through their country, they mistook us for enemies, and had therefore deserted the place, which is a most convenient station; as on one side, there is a great plenty of white fish, and trout, jub, carp, &c., and on the other abundance of salmon, and probably other fish. Several things that I had left here in exchange for articles of which I had possessed myself, as objects of curiosity, were taken away. The hurtle-berries were now ripe, and very fine of their kind.


{329}  Saturday, 17.—The morning was cloudy, and at five we renewed our progress. We were compelled to carry from the lake to the Peace River, the passage, from the falling of the water, being wholly obstructed by drift wood. The meadow through which we passed was entirely inundated; and from the state of my foot and ancle, I was obliged, though with great reluctance, to submit to be carried over it.

At half past seven we began to glide along with the current of the Peace River; and almost at every canoe's length we perceived Beaver roads to and from the river. At two in the afternoon, an object attracted our notice at the entrance of a small river, which proved to be the four beaver skins, already mentioned to have been presented to me by a native, and left in his possession to receive them on my return. I imagined, therefore, that being under the necessity of leaving the river, or, perhaps, fearing to meet us again, he had taken this method to restore them to me; and to reward his honesty, I left three times the value of the skins in their place. The snow appeared in patches on the mountains. At four in the afternoon we passed the place where we. found the first natives, and landed for the night at a late hour. In the course of the day, we caught nine outards, or Canada {330}geese, but they were as yet without their feathers.


  Sunday, 18.—As soon as it was light we proceeded on our voyage, and drove on before the current, which was very much diminished in its strength, since we came up it. The water indeed, was so low, that in many parts it exposed a gravelly beach. At eleven we landed at our encampment of the seventh of June, to gum the canoe and dry our clothes: we then re-embarked, and at half past five arrived at the place, where I lost my book of memorandums, on the fourth of June, in which were certain courses and distances between that day end the twenty-sixth of May, which I had now an opportunity to supply. They were as follows: North-North-West half a mile, East by North half a mile, North by East a quarter of a mile, North-West by West a quarter of a mile, West-South-West half a mile, North-West a mile and a quarter, North-North-West three quarters of a mile, North by East half a mile, North-West three quarters of a mile, West half a mile, North-West three quarters of a mile, West-North-West one mile and a quarter, North three quarters of a mile, West by North one quarter of a mile, North-West one mile and an half, West-North-West half a mile, North-North-West three quarters of a mile, West one quarter of {331}a mile, North-North-East half a mile, North-North-West two miles, and North-West four miles.

We were seven days in going up that part of the river which we came down to-day; and it now swarmed, as it were, with beavers and wild fowl. There was rain in the afternoon, and about sunset we took our station for the night.


  Monday, 19.—We had some small rain throughout the night. Our course to-day was South-South-West three quarters of a mile, West-North-West half a mile, North half a mile, North-West by West three quarters of a mile, North by West half a mile; a small river to the left, South-West by West three quarters of a mile, West-North-West a mile and an half, North-West by North four miles, a rivulet on the right, West-North-West three quarters of a mile; a considerable river from the left, North-North-West two miles, North half a mile, West-North-West one mile and a half; a rivulet on the right, North-West by West one mile and a quarter, West-North-West one mile, West-South-West a quarter of a mile, North-North-West half a mile, North-West half a mile, West-South-West three quarters of a mile, North-West by West three miles, West-South-West three quarters of a mile, North-West by West one mile; a small river on the right, {332}South-West a quarter of a mile, West-North-West, islands, four miles and a half, a river on the left, North half a mile, West a quarter of a mile, North a quarter of a mile, North-West by West three quarters of a mile, North-North-East three quarters of a mile, North-West by North half a mile, West-North-West a mile and an half, and North-West by North half a mile. The mountains were covered with fresh snow, whose showers had dissolved in rain before they reached us. North-West three quarters of a mile, South-West a quarter of a mile, North a mile and three quarters, West-North-West a mile and a quarter, North-West a mile and a half, North-North-West half a mile, West-North-West a quarter of a mile, North half a mile; here the current was sleek: North-West by North half a mile, North-West by West a quarter of a mile, North-North-West a quarter of a mile, North-West by West one mile and a quarter, North half a mile, North-East by North one mile and three quarters, South-West one mile and a quarter, with an island, North by East one mile, North-West. Here the other branch opened to us, at the distance of three quarters of a mile.

I expected from the slackness of the current in this branch, that the Western one would be high, but I found it equally low. I had every reason to believe that from the {333}upper part of this branch, the distance could not be great to the country through which I passed when I left the Great River; but it has since been determined otherwise by Mr. J. Finlay, who was sent to explore it, and found its navigation soon terminated by falls and rapids.

The branches are about two hundred yards in breadth, and the water was six feet lower than on our upward passage. Our course, after the junction, was North-North-West one mile, the rapid North-East down it three quarters of a mile, North by West one mile and a quarter, North by East one mile and an half, East by South one mile, North-East two miles and an half, East-North-East a quarter of a mile; a rivulet; East by South one mile and an half, North-East two miles, East-North-East one mile, North-North-East a quarter of a mile, North-East by East-half a mile, East-South-East a quarter of a mile, East-North-East half a mile, North-East two miles, North-East by East two miles and a quarter, South-East by East a quarter of a mile; a rivulet from the left; East by North a mile and an half, East by South one mile, East-North-East one mile and three quarters; a river on the right; North-North-East three quarters of a mile, North-East a mile and a half, North-East by East a mile and a quarter, East-North-East half a mile, and North-East {334}by North half a mile. Here we landed at our encampment of the 27th of June, from whence I dispatched a letter in an empty keg, as was mentioned in that period of my journal, which set forth our existing state, progress, and expectation.


  Tuesday, 20.—Though the weather was clear, we could not embark this morning before five, as there was a rapid very near us, which required daylight to run it, that we might not break our canoe on the rocks. The baggage we were obliged to carry. Our course was North by East a mile and an half, North-North-East a mile and a half down another rapid on the West side; it requires great care to keep directly between the eddy current, and that which was driving down with so much impetuosity. We then proceeded North-North-West, a river from the right; a mile and a quarter, North-North-East a mile and a half, a river from the left; North one mile and three quarters, North-East two miles, North-East by East two miles and a quarter, East by North one mile, North-East by East four miles, a river from the left, and East by South a mile and a half. Here was our encampment on the 26th of May, beyond which it would be altogether superfluous for me to take the courses, as they are inserted in their proper places.

As we continued our voyage, our attention {335}was attracted by the appearance of an Indian encampment. We accordingly landed, and found there had been five fires, and within that number of days, so that there must have been some inhabitants in the neighbourhood, though we were not so fortunate as to see them. It appeared that they had killed a number of animals, and fled in a state of alarm, as three of their canoes were left carelessly on the beach, and their paddles laying about in disorder. We soon after came to the carrying-place called the Portage de la Montagne de Roche. Here I had a meridian altitude, which made the latitude 56. 3. 51. North.

The water, as I have already observed, was much lower than when we came up it, though at the same time the current appeared to be stronger from this place to the forks; the navigation, however, would now be attended with greater facility, as there is a stony beach all the way, so that poles, or the towing-line, may be employed with the best effect, where the current overpowers the use of paddles.

We were now reduced to a very short allowance; the disappointment, therefore, at not seeing any animals was proportioned to our exigencies, as we did not possess at this time more than was sufficient to serve us for two meals. I now dispatched Mr. Mackay {336}and the Indians to proceed to the foot of the rapids, and endeavour in their way to procure some provisions, while I prepared to employ the utmost expedition in getting there; having determined, notwithstanding the disinclination of my people, from the recollection of what they had suffered in coming that way, to return by the same route. I had observed, indeed, that the water which had fallen fifteen feet perpendicular, at the narrow pass below us, had lost much of its former turbulence.

As dispatch was essential in procuring a supply of provisions, we did not delay a moment in making preparation to renew our progress. Five of the men began to carry the baggage, while the sixth and myself took the canoe asunder, to cleanse her of the dirt, and expose her lining and timbers to the air, which would render her much lighter. About sun-set Mr. Mackay and our hunters returned with heavy burdens of the flesh of a buffalo: though not very tender, it was very acceptable, and was the only animal that they had seen, though the country was covered with tracks of them, as well as of the moose-deer and the elk. The former had done rutting, and the latter were beginning to run. Our people returned, having left their loads mid-way on the carrying-place. My companion and myself completed our undertaking, and {337}the canoe was ready to be carried in the morning. A hearty meal concluded the day, and every fear of future want was removed.


  Wednesday, 21.—When the morning dawned we set forwards, but as a fire had passed through the portage, it was with difficulty we could trace our road in many parts; and with all the exertion of which we were capable, we did not arrive at the river till four in the afternoon. We found almost as much difficulty in carrying our canoe down the mountain as we had in getting it up; the men being not so strong as on the former occasion, though they were in better spirits; and I was now enabled to assist them, my ancle being almost well. We could not, however, proceed any further till the following day, as we had the canoe to gum, with several great and small poles to prepare; those we had left here having been carried away by the water, though we had left them in a position from fifteen to twenty feet above the water-mark, at that time. These occupations employed us till a very late hour.


  Thursday, 22.—The night was cold, and though the morning was fine and clear, it was seven before we were in a state of preparation to leave this place, sometimes driving with the current, and at other times shooting the rapids. The latter had lost much of their former strength; but we, nevertheless, {338}thought it necessary to land very frequently, in order to examine the rapids before we could venture to run them. However, the canoe being light, we very fortunately passed them all, and at noon arrived at the place where I appointed to meet Mr. Mackay and the hunters: there we found them, with plenty of excellent fat meat, ready roasted, as they had killed two elks within a few hundred yards of the spot where we then were. When the men had satisfied their appetites, I sent them for as much of the meat as they could carry. In coming hither, Mr. Mackay informed me, that he and the hunters kept along the high land, and did not see or cross the Indian path. At the same time, there can be no doubt but the road from this place to the upper part of the rapids is to be preferred to that which we came, both for expedition and safety.

After staying here about an hour and a half, we proceeded with the stream, and landed where I had forgotten my pipe-tomahawk and seal, on the eighteenth of May. The former of them I now recovered. On leaving the mountains we saw animals grazing in every direction. In passing along an island, we fired at an elk, and broke its leg; and as it was now time to encamp, we landed; when the hunters pursued the wounded animal, which had crossed over to {339}the main land, but could not get up the bank. We went after it, therefore, in the canoe, and killed it. To give some notion of our appetites, I shall state the elk, or at least the carcase of it, which we brought away, to have weighed two hundred and fifty pounds; and as we had taken a very hearty meal at one o'clock, it might naturally be supposed that we should not be very voracious at supper; nevertheless, a kettle full of the elk flesh was boiled and eaten, and that vessel replenished and put on the fire. All that remained, with the bones, &c. was placed, after the Indian fashion, round the fire to roast, and at ten next morning the whole was consumed by ten persons and a large dog, who was allowed his share of the banquet. This is no exaggeration; nor did any inconvenience result from what may be considered as an inordinate indulgence.


  Friday, 23.—We were on the water before daylight; and when the sun rose, a beautiful country appeared around us, enriched and animated by large herds of wild cattle. The weather was now so warm, that to us, who had not of late been accustomed to heat, it was overwhelming and oppressive. In the course of this day we killed a buffalo and a bear; but we were now in the midst of abundance, and they were not sufficiently fat to satisfy our fastidious appetites, so we left {340}them where they fell. We landed for the night, and prepared ourselves for arriving at the Fort on the following day.


  Saturday, 24.—The weather was the same as yesterday, and the country increasing in beauty; though as we approached the Fort, the cattle appeared proportionably to diminish. We now landed at two lodges of Indians, who were as astonished to see us, as if we had been the first white men whom they had ever beheld. When we had passed these people, not an animal was to be seen on the borders of the river.

At length, as we rounded a point, and came in view of the Fort, we threw out a flag, and accompanied it with a general discharge of our fire-arms; while the men were in such spirits, and made such an active use of their paddles, that we arrived before the two men whom we left here in the spring, could recover their senses to answer us. Thus we landed at four in the afternoon, at the place which we left on the ninth of May.
——Here my voyages of discovery terminate.
Their toils and their dangers, their solicitudes and sufferings, have not been exaggerated in my description. On the contrary, in many instances, language has failed me in the attempt to describe them. I received, however, the reward of my labours, for they were crowned with success.

{341}As I have now resumed the character of a trader I shall not trouble my readers with any subsequent concern, but content myself with the closing infomation, that after an absence of eleven months, I arrived at Fort Chepewyan, where I remained, for the purposes of trade, during the succeeding winter.


The following general, but short, geographical view of the country may not be improper to close this work, as well as some remarks on the probable advantages that may be derived from advancing the trade of it, under proper regulations, and by the spirit of commercial enterprize.

By supposing a line from the Atlantic, East, to the Pacific, West, in the parallel of forty-five degrees of North latitude, it will, I think, nearly describe the British territories in North America. For I am of opinion, that the extent of the country to the South of this line, which we have a right to claim, is equal to that to the North of it, which may be claimed by other powers.

The outline of what I shall call the first division, is along that track of country which runs from the head of James-Bay, in about latitude 51. North, along the Eastern coast, as far North as to, and through Hudson's Straits, round by Labrador; continuing on {342}the Atlantic coast, on the outside of the great islands, in the gulf of St. Laurence, to the river St. Croix, by which it takes its course, to the height of land that divides the waters emptying themselves into the Atlantic, from those discharged into the river St. Laurence. Then following these heights, as the boundary between the British possessions, and those of the American States, it makes an angle Westerly until it strikes the discharge of Lake Champlain, in latitude 45. North, when it keeps a direct West line till it strikes the river St. Laurence, above Lake St. Francis, where it divides the Indian village St. Rigest; from whence it follows the centre of the waters of the great river St. Laurence: it then proceeds through Lake Ontario, the connection between it and Lake Erie; through the latter, and its chain of connection, by the river Detroit, as far South as latitude 42. North, and then through the lake and river St. Clair, as also lake Huron, through which it continues to the strait of St. Mary, latitude 46. 30. North; from which we will suppose the line to strike to the East of North, to the head of James Bay, in the latitude already mentioned.

Of this great tract, more than half is represented as barren and broken, displaying a surface of rock and fresh water lakes, with a very scattered and scanty proportion of soil. {343}Such is the whole coast of Labrador, and the land, called East Main to the West of the heights, which divide the waters running into the river and gulf of St. Laurence, from those flowing into Hudson's Bay. It is consequently inhabited only by a few savages, whose numbers are proportioned to the scantiness of the soil; nor is it probable, from the same cause, that they will encrease. The fresh and salt waters, with a small quantity of game, which the few, stinted woods afford, supply the wants of nature; from whence, to that of the line of the American boundary, and the Atlantic Ocean, the soil, wherever cultivation has been attempted, has yielded abundance; particularly on the river St. Laurence, from Quebec upwards, to the line of boundary already mentioned; but a very inconsiderable proportion of it has been broken by the plough-share.

The line of the second division may be traced from that of the first at St. Mary's, from which also the line of American boundary runs, and is said to continue through Lake Superior (and through a lake called the Long Lake which has no existence), to the Lake of the Woods, in latitude 49. 37. North, from whence it is also said to run West to the Mississippi, which it may do, by giving it a good deal of Southing, but not otherwise; as the source of that river does not extend {344}further North than latitude 47. 38. North, where it is no more than a small brook; consequently, if Great Britain retains the right of entering it along the line of division, it must be in a lower latitude, and wherever that may be, the line must be continued West, till it terminates in the Pacific Ocean, to the South of the Columbia. This division is then bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the West, the Frozen Sea and Hudson's Bay on the North and East. The Russians, indeed, may claim with justice, the islands and coast from Behring's Straits to Cook's Entry.

The whole of this country will long continue in the possession of its present inhabitants, as they will remain contented with the produce of the woods and waters for their support, leaving the earth, from various causes, in its virgin state. The proportion of it that is fit for cultivation, is very small and is still less in the interior parts; it is also very difficult of access; and whilst any land remains uncultivated to the South of it, there will be no temptation to settle it. Besides, its climate is not in general sufficiently genial to bring the fruits of the earth to maturity. It will also be an asylum for the descendants of the original inhabitants of the country to the South, who prefer the modes of life of their forefathers, to the improvements of civilization. Of this disposition there is a recent {345}instance. A small colony of Iroquois emigrated to the banks of the Saskatchiwine, in 1799, who had been brought up from their infancy under the Romish missionaries, and instructed by them at a village within nine miles of Montreal.

A further division of this country is marked by a ridge of high land, rising, as it were, from the coast of Labrador, and running nearly South-West to the source of the Utawas River, dividing the waters going either way to the river and gulf of St. Laurence and Hudson's Bay, as before observed. From thence it stretches to the North of West, to the Northward of Lake Superior, to latitude 50. North, and longitude 98. West, when it forks from the last course at about South-West, and continues the same division of waters until it passes North of the source of the Mississippi. The former course runs, as has been observed, in a North-West direction, until it strikes the river Nelson, separating the waters that discharge themselves into Lake Winipic, which forms part of the said river, and those that also empty themselves into Hudson's Bay, by the Albany, Severn, and Hay's or Hill's Rivers. From thence it keeps a course of about West-North-West, till it forms the banks of the Missinipi or Churchill River, at Portage de Traite, latitude 55. 25. North. It now continues in a {346}Western direction, between the Saskatchiwine and the source of the Missinipi, or Beaver River, which it leaves behind, and divides the Saskatchiwine from the Elk River; when, leaving those also behind, and pursuing the same direction it leads to the high land that lies between the Unjigah and Tacoutche rivers, from whence it may be supposed to be the same ridge. From the head of the Beaver River, on the West, the same kind of high ground runs to the East of North, between the waters of the Elk and Missinipi River forming the Portage la Loche, and continuing on to the latitude 57. 15. North, dividing the waters that run to Hudson's Bay from those going to the North Sea: from thence its course is nearly North, when an angle runs from it to the North of the Slave Lake, till it strikes Mackenzie's River.

The last, but by no means the least, is the immense ridge, or succession of ridges of stony mountains, whose Northern extremity dips in the North Sea, in latitude 70. North, and longitude 135. West, running nearly South-East, and begins to be parallel with the coast of the Pacific Ocean, from Cook's entry, and so onwards to the Columbia. From thence it appears to quit the coast, but still continuing, with less elevation, to divide the waters of the Atlantic from those which run into the Pacific. In those snow-clad {347}mountains rises the Mississippi, if we admit the Missouri to be its source, which flows into the Gulph of Mexico; the River Nelson, which is lost in Hudson's Bay; Mackenzie's River, that discharges itself into the North Sea; and the Columbia emptying itself into the Pacific Ocean. The great River St. Laurence and Churchill River, with many lesser ones, derive their sources far short of these mountains. It is, indeed, the extension of these mountains so far South on the sea coast, that prevents the Columbia from finding a more direct course to the sea, as it runs obliquely with the coast upwards of eight degrees of latitude before it mingles with the ocean.

It is further to be observed, that these mountains, from Cook's entry to the Columbia, extend from six to eight degrees in breadth Easterly; and that along their Eastern skirts is a narrow strip of very marshy, boggy, and uneven ground, the outer edge of which produces coal and bitumen: these I saw on the banks of Mackenzie's River, as far North as latitude 66. I also discovered them in my second journey, at the commencement of the rocky mountains in 56. North latitude, and 120. West longitude; and the same was observed by Mr. Fidler, one of the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company, at the source of the South branch of the Saskatchiwine, in about latitude 52 North, and {348}longitude 112. 30. West.[1] Next to this narrow belt are immense plains, or meadows, commencing in a point at about the junction of the River of the Mountain with Mackenzie's River, widening as they continue East and South, till they reach the Red River at its confluence with the Assiniboin River, from whence they take a more Southern direction, along the Mississippi towards Mexico. Adjoining to these plains is a broken country, composed of lakes, rocks, and soil.

From the banks of the rivers running through the plains, there appeared to ooze a saline fluid, concreting into a thin, scurf on the grass. Near that part of the Slave River where it first loses the name of Peace River, and along the extreme edge of these plains, are very strong salt springs, which in the summer concrete and crystallize in great quantities. About the Lake Dauphin, on the South-West side of Lake Winipic, are also many salt ponds, but it requires a regular process to form salt from them. Along the West banks of the former is to be seen, at intervals, and traced in the line of the direction of the plains, a soft rock of lime-stone, in thin and nearly horizontal stratas, {349}particularly on the Beaver, Cedar, Winipic, and Superior lakes, as also in the beds of the rivers crossing that line. It is also remarkable that, at the narrowest part of Lake Winipic, where it is not more than two miles in breadth, the West side is faced with rocks of this stone thirty feet perpendicular; while, on the East side, the rocks are more elevated, and of a dark-grey granite.

The latter is to be found throughout the whole extent North of this country, to the coast of Hudson's Bay, and as I have been informed, along that coast, onwards to the coast of Labrador; and it may be further observed, that between these extensive ranges of granite and lime-stone are found all the great lakes of this country.

There is another very large district which must not be forgotten; and behind all the others in situation as well as in soil, produce, and climate. This comprehends the tract called the Barren Grounds, which is to the North of a line drawn from Churchill, along the North border of the Rein-Deer Lake, to the North of the Lake of the Hills and Slave Lake, and along the North side of the latter to the rocky mountains, which terminate in the North Sea, latitude 70. North, and longitude 135. West; in the whole extent of which no trees are visible, except a few stinted ones, scattered along its rivers, and with {350}scarce anything of surface that can be called earth; yet, this inhospitable region is inhabited by a people who are accustomed to the life it requires. Nor has bountiful nature withheld the means of subsistence; the rein deer, which supply both food and clothing, are satisfied with the produce of the hills, though they bear nothing but a short curling moss, on a species of which, that grows on the rocks, the people themselves subsist when famine invades them. Their small lakes are not furnished with a great variety of fish, but such as they produce are excellent, which, with hares and partridges, form a proportion of their food.

The climate must necessarily be severe in such a country as we have described, and which displays so large a surface of fresh water. Its severity is extreme on the coast of Hudson's Bay, and proceeds from its immediate exposure to the North West winds that blow off the Frozen Ocean.

These winds, in crossing directly from the bay over Canada and the British dominions on the Atlantic, as well as over the Eastern States of North America to that ocean, (where they give to those countries a length of winter astonishing to the inhabitants of the same latitudes in Europe), continue to retain a great degree of force and cold in their passage, even over the Atlantic, particularly at {351}the time when the sun is in its Southern declination. The same winds which come from the Frozen Ocean, over the barren grounds, and across frozen lakes and snowy plains, bounded by the rocky mountains, lose their frigid influence, as they travel in a Southern direction, till they get to the Atlantic Ocean, where they close their progress. Is not this a sufficient cause for the difference between the climate in America, and that of the same latitude in Europe?

It has been frequently advanced, that the clearing away the wood has had an astonishing influence in meliorating the climate in the former: but I am not disposed to assent to that opinion in the extent which it proposes to establish, when I consider the very trifling proportion of the country cleared, compared with the whole. The employment of the axe may have had some inconsiderable effect; but I look to other causes. I myself observed in a country, which was in an absolute state of nature, that the climate is improving; and this circumstance was confirmed to me by the native inhabitants of it. Such a change, therefore, must proceed from some predominating operation in the system of the globe which is beyond my conjecture, and, indeed, above my comprehension, and may, probably, in the course, of time, give to America the climate of Europe. It is well known, indeed, {352} that the waters are decreasing there, and that many lakes are draining and filling up by the earth which is carried into them from the higher lands by the rivers: and this may have some partial effect.

The climate on the West coast of America assimilates much more to that of Europe in the same latitudes: I think very little difference will be found, except such as proceed from the vicinity of high mountains covered with snow. This is an additional proof that the difference in the temperature of the air proceeds from the cause already mentioned.

Much has been said, and much more still remains to be said on the peopling of America.—On this subject I shall confine myself to one or two observations, and leave my readers to draw their inferences from them.

The progress of the inhabitants of the country immediately under our observation, which is comprised within the line of latitude 45. North, is as follows: that of the Esquimaux, who possess the sea coast from the Atlantic through Hudson's Straits and Bay, round to Mackenzie's River (and I believe further), is known to be Westward; they never quit the coast, and agree in appearance, manners, language, and habits with the inhabitants of Greenland. The different tribes whom I describe under the name of Algonquins and Knisteneaux, but originally {353}the same people, were the inhabitants of the Atlantic coast, and the banks of the river St. Laurence and adjacent countries: their progress is Westerly, and they are even found West and North as far as Athabasca. On the contrary, the Chepewyans, and the numerous tribes who speak their language, occupy the whole space between the Knisteneaux country and that of the Esquimaux, stretching behind the natives of the coast of the Pacific, to latitude 52. North, on the river Columbia. Their progress is Easterly, and, according to their own traditions, they came from Siberia; agreeing in dress and manner with the people now found upon the coast of Asia.

Of the inhabitants of the coast of the Pacific Ocean we know little more than that they are stationary there. The Nadowasis or Assiniboins, as well as the different tribes not particularly described, inhabiting the plains on and about the source and banks of the Saskatchiwine and Assiniboin rivers, are from the Southward, and their progress is North-West.


The discovery of a passage by sea, North-East or North West from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, has for many years excited the attention of governments, and encouraged {354}the enterprising spirit of individuals. The non-existence, however, of any such practical passage being at length determined, the practicability of a passage through the continents of Asia and America becomes an object of consideration. The Russians, who first discovered, that, along the coasts of Asia no useful or regular navigation existed, opened an interior communication by rivers, &c., and through that long and wide-extended continent, to the strait that separates Asia from America, over which they passed to the adjacent islands and continent of the latter. Our situation, at length, is in some degree similar to theirs: the non-existence of a practicable passage by sea and the existence of one through the continent, are clearly proved; and it requires only the countenance and support of the British Government, to increase in a very ample proportion this national advantage, and secure the trade of that country to its subjects.

Experience, however, has proved, that this trade, from its very nature cannot be carried on by individuals. A very large capital, or credit, or indeed both, is necessary, and consequently an association of men of wealth to direct, with men of enterprise to act, in one common interest, must be formed on such principles, as that in due time the latter may succeed the former, in continual and {355}progressive succession. Such was the equitable and successful mode adopted by the merchants from Canada, which has been already described.

The junction of such a commercial association with the Hudson's Bay Company, is the important measure which I would propose, and the trade might then be carried on with a very superior degree of advantage, both private and public, under the privilege of their charter, and would prove, in fact, the complete fulfilment of the conditions, on which it was first granted.

It would be an equal injustice to either party to be excluded from the option of such an undertaking; for if the one has a right by charter, has not the other a right by prior possession, as being successor to the subjects of France, who were exclusively possessed of all the then known parts of this country, before Canada was ceded to Great Britain, except the coast of Hudson's Bay, and having themselves been the discoverers of a vast extent of country since added to his Majesty's territories, even to the Hyperborean and the Pacific Oceans?

If, therefore, that company should decline, or be averse to engage in, such an extensive, and perhaps hazardous undertaking, it would not, surely, be an unreasonable proposal to them, from government, to give up a right {356}which they refuse to exercise, on allowing them a just and reasonable indemnification of their stock, regulated by the average dividends of a certain number of years, or the actual price at which they transfer their stock.

By enjoying the privilege of the company's charter, though but for a limited period, there are adventurers who would be willing, as they are able, to engage in, and carry on the proposed commercial undertaking, as well as to give the most ample and satisfactory security to government for the fulfilment of its contract with the company. It would, at the same time, be equally necessary to add a similar privilege of trade on the Columbia River, and its tributary waters.

If, however, it should appear, that the Hudson's Bay Company have an exclusive right to carry on their trade as they think proper, and continue it on the narrow scale, and with so little benefit to the public as they now do; if they should refuse to enter into a co-operative junction with others, what reasonable cause can they assign to government for denying the navigation of the bay to Nelson's River: and, by its waters, a passage to and from the interior country, for the use of the adventurers, and for the sole purpose of transport, under the most severe and binding restrictions not to interfere with their trade {357}on the coast, and the country between it and the actual establishments of the Canadian traders.[2]

By these waters that discharge themselves into Hudson's Bay at Port Nelson, it is proposed to carry on the trade to their source, at the head of the Saskatchiwine River, which rises in the Rocky Mountains, not eight degrees of longitude from the Pacific Ocean. The Tacoutche or Columbia River flows also from the same mountains, and discharges itself likewise in the Pacific, in latitude 46. 20. {358}Both of them are capable of receiving ships at their mouths, and are navigable throughout for boats.

The distance between these waters is only known from the report of the Indians. If, however, this communication should prove inaccessible, the route I pursued, though longer, in consequence of the great angle it makes to the North, will answer every necessary purpose. But whatever course may be taken from the Atlantic, the Columbia is the line of communication from the Pacific Ocean, pointed out by nature, as it is the only navigable river in the whole extent of Vancouver's minute survey of that coast: its banks also form the first level country in all the Southern extent of continental coast from Cook's entry, and, consequently, the most Northern situation fit for colonization, and suitable to the residence of a civilized people. By opening this intercourse between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and forming regular establishments through the interior, and at both extremes, as well as along the coasts and islands, the entire command of the fur trade of North America might be obtained, from latitude 48. North to the pole, except that portion of it which the Russians have in the Pacific. To this may be added the fishing in both seas, and the markets of the four quarters of the globe. Such would be the {359}field for commercial enterprise, and incalculable would be the produce of it, when supported by the operations of that credit and capital which Great Britain so pre-eminently possesses. Then would this country begin to be remunerated for the expences it has sustained in discovering and surveying the coast of the Pacific Ocean, which is at present left to American adventurers, who without regularity or capital, or the desire of conciliating future confidence, look altogether to the interest of the moment. They, therefore, collect all the skins they can procure, and in any manner that suits them, and having exchanged them at Canton for the produce of China, return to their own country. Such adventurers, and many of them, as I have been informed, have been very successful, would instantly disappear from before a well-regulated trade.

It would be very unbecoming in me to suppose for a moment, that the East-India Company would hesitate to allow those privileges to their fellow-subjects which are permitted to foreigners in a trade, that is so much out of the line of their own commerce, and therefore cannot be injurious to it. Many political reasons, which it is not necessary here to enumerate, must present themselves to the mind of every man acquainted with the enlarged system and capacities of {360}British commerce in support of the measure which I have very briefly suggested, as promising the most important advantages to the trade of the united kingdoms.

[1] Bitumen is also found on the coast of the Slave Lake, in latitude 60. North, near its discharge by Mackenzie's River; and also near the forks of the Elk River.

[2] Independent of the prosecution of this great object, I conceive, that the merchants from Canada are entitled to such an indulgence (even if they should be considered as not possessing a rightful claim), in order that they might be enabled to extend their trade beyond their present limits, and have it in their power to supply the natives with a larger quantity of useful articles; the enhanced value of which, and the present difficulty of transporting them, will be fully comprehended, when I relate, that the tract of transport occupies an extent of from three to four thousand miles, through upwards of sixty large fresh water lakes, and numerous rivers; and that the means of transport are slight bark canoes. It must also be observed, that those waters are intercepted by more than two hundred rapids, along which the articles of merchandise are chiefly carried on men's backs, and over a hundred and thirty carrying-places, from twenty-five paces to thirteen miles in length where the canoes and cargoes proceed by the same toilsome and perilous operations.



THE END


It is to be observed, that the Courses throughout the Journals are taken by Compass, and that the Variation must be considered.






[Transcriber's Note 1: The date of this journal entry was given as Wednesday, 12 in this edition. It has been corrected to be in agreement with context and with other editions.]

[Transcriber's Note 2: The date of this journal entry was located incorrectly in the text in this edition. It has been moved to the correct location here.]
















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