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History of Saskatchewan and The Old North West
Chapter III - Early Explorations and International Rivalry For Control of the West


Dream of Danish Domination—Munck—Duel of France and England— English Merchants Jealous and Suspicious of Radisson and Groseilier; They Return to France, 1674—Radisson Seizes Fort Nelson for France, 1681—French Authorities Refuse to Countenance the Raid—Restoration of Fort Nelson D'Iberville's Raids and the Treaty of Ryswick all but Exclude the. English—Bv Treaty of Utrecht. France Surrenders All Claims on the Bay—H. B.. Co.'s Charter Attacked, 1749, for Failure to Explore—Kellsey, the First Englishman in the Interior—Joseph de la France—The Verendryes; Explorations in Manitoba; in Northern States, West to Rockies; Expedition Into the Heart of Saskatchewan—Failures of The  Verendryes' Successors—Summary of French Explorations in North West—Apathy of H. B.. Co.—Hendry's Expedition and Meeting With the French.

No reader need be informed that England was far from having undisputed jurisdiction in the vast territories described in the charter of the great company or otherwise subsequently claimed by that gigantic corporation.

As early as 1605 the Danes had sought to obtain a foothold in the regions bordering the bay. Their early expeditions, the Danish government entrusted to English mariners, but in 1618 the bay was visited by Jens Munck, one of the most picturesque of all the famous rovers of his era. He was a Danish nobleman who, being left an orphan in childhood, had early entered upon a career of poverty and adventure. In the year above mentioned Munck discovered the mouth of the Churchill River, the best port on the bay. There he took up his winter quarters. As he and his men were miserably equipped and ignorant of how to cope with scurvy and the terrible cold, the hardships of that fearful winter reduced his company from sixty-five to three. This was ruin, indeed, but no calamity could shatter the fortitude and piety of this magnificent old mariner. Even after his return to Denmark he was still eager to bring back colonists, but other duties forbade, as he was summoned to service in the navy. Had his plans carried, the later history of North America, and of Saskatchewan as a part thereof, might have been written in very different terms. To judge the spirit of the man and the consequent importance of his frustrated colonizing enterprises one need but read such portions of his journal as are quoted below:

"Oct. 15.—Last night, ice drift lifted the ship out of the dock. At next low water 1 had the space filled with clay and sand.

"Oct. 30.—Ice everywhere covers the river. There is such a heavy fall of snow it is impossible for the men to go into the open country without snowshoes.

"Dec. 12.—One of my surgeons died and his corpse had to remain unburied for two days because the frost was so terrible no one dared go on shore.

"Dec. 24. & 25.—Christmas Eve. I gave the men wine and beer, which they had to boil for it was frozen to the bottom. All very jolly but no one offended by so much as a word. Holy Christmas Day we all celebrated as a Christian's duty is. We had a sermon and after the sermon we gave the priest an offertory according to ancient custom. There was not much money among the men but they gave what they had,—some white fox skins for the priest to line his coat.

"Jan. 1.—New Year's Day. Tremendous frost. I ordered a couple of pints of wine to the bowl of every man to keep up the spirits.

"Jan. 10.—The priest and the other surgeon took to bed. A violent sickness rages among the men. My head cook died.

"Jan. 21.—Thirteen of us down with sickness. I asked the surgeon, who was lying mortally ill, whether any remedy might be found in his chest. He answered he had used as many remedies as he knew and if God would not help, there was no remedy.

"Jan. 23.—This day died my mate, Hans Brock, who had been in bed five months. The priest sat up in his berth to preach the sermon, which was the last he ever gave on this earth.

"Jan. 25.—Had the small minute guns discharged in honor of my mate's burial, but so exceedingly brittle had the iron become from frost that the cannon exploded.

"Feb. 5.—More deaths. I again sent to the surgeon, for God's sake to do something to allay sickness, but he only answered as before, if God did not help there was no hope.

"Feb. 16.—Nothing but sickness and death. Only seven persons now in health to do the necessary work. On this day died a seaman, who was as filthy in his habits as an untrained beast.

"Feb. 17.—Twenty persons have died.

"Feb. 20.—In the evening, died the priest. Have had to mind cabin myself, for my servant is also ill.

"March 30.—Sharp frost. Now begins my great misery. I am like the lonely bird, running In and fro waiting on the sick.

"April 1.—Died my nephew. Eric Munck. and was buried in the same grave as my second mate. Not one of us is well enough to fetch water and fuel. It is with great difficulty I can get coffins made.

"April 14.—Only four besides myself able to sit up and listen to the sermon for Good Friday, which I read.

"May 6.—Died John Weston, my English mate. The bodies of the dead lie uncovered because none of us has the strength to bury them. . . ."

Early in the summer, the brave hearted Dane made in his journal the following dramatic entry, which he supposed would be the last:

"As I have now no more hope of life in this world, I request for the sake of God, if any Christians should happen to come here, they will bury my poor body, together with the others found, and this, my journal, forward to the King. . . . Herewith, good night to all the world, and my soul to God. . . . Jens Munck."

When Munck wrote these words he was alone upon the ship and had lain for four days without food. Some of his men had previously gone ashore, but they had been given up for lost. Two, however, returned to him alive and helped him to the land. There the three survivors kindled a fire of driftwood, partly to protect themselves from the hungry wolves, and beside it they lay upon the ground, sucking the juice of every root and sprout that they could reach—weeds, sea nettles, hemlock vines, sorel grass. Strange as such diet may seem, it restored their strength, and in the course of time they recovered from scurvy. On June 18 they were able to walk out to the ship at ebb tide and about a month later, says Munck, "In the name of Jesus, after prayer and supplication to God, we set to work to rig the Lamprey." Munck and his two companions lightened the sloop by throwing overboard the many corpses and all ballast and cargo, till the ship floated from the winter dock. His other vessel, the Unicorn, he scuttled where he thought he could recover it on another voyage. "On July 16, Sunday, in the afternoon, we set sail from there in the name of God." It is a relief to know that the dauntless three actually succeeded in navigating their craft in safety back to Denmark.

The dream of a Danish empire in the far North West had come and gone before the creation of the Hudson's Bay Company, to which was devoted the preceding chapter. As we have seen, the founding of British interests in Rupert's Land was, in a large measure, due to the indomitable perseverance of two French adventurers; and these same Frenchmen played an important part in inaugurating a mighty national duel for the control of North Western America that culminated in the capture of Quebec, 1759, and has not been unrelated to many events of recent history—such, for example, as the rebellion of 1885.

A month after the granting of the charter, Radisson and Groseilliers sailed from England for the bay with about forty men. The company, in this expedition used three vessels, all loaned by the British Admiralty. These were the Bairro, the Prince Rupert and the Shaftsbury. The last two vessels passed the summer at Fort Charles, where, at the head of James Bay and the mouth of the Rupert River, it will be remembered that the first British trading fort had been built by Groseilliers and Captain Gillam. Radisson, in the lVavcro, explored the southern coast. In the autumn he and Captain Gillam returned to England in the Prince Rupert. leaving Groseilliers to winter in the bay. Within the next couple of years several trips were made by the English adventurers and their French assistants to and from the bay, but, owing to French interference, the profits did not prove as great as had been anticipated. Presently an English Jesuit arrived at Fort Charles from New France, with a passport from Frontenac, and with letters to Radisson and Groseilliers. This aroused distrust in the hearts of the English traders and was the source of violent quarrels. Accordingly, Radisson returned to England to lay his case before the Governor and Council of the Hudson's Bay Company. With charming consistency they acquitted Radisson of all disloyalty and announced to him his permanent exclusion from partnership in the company. It would probably have been more economical for them to have promised him a handsome share of the profits for years to come. Radisson immediately withdrew from the service of the country and returned to France, 1674, where for a time he drops out of history.

In 1682 John Bridgar, Governor of the Nelson district, sailed to his post with Captain Gillam, Fort Nelson, as the reader will remember, is on the west side of Hudson's Bay and at the mouth of the Saskatchewan-Nelson River. Upon reaching the harbor the landing party was startled by a sharp challenge. "We are Hudson's Bay Company men," explained Governor Bridgar. "But I am Radisson," replied their interlocutor, "and I hold possession of this region for France." The consternation of the English traders may be imagined when they saw themselves thus falling into the hands of the adventurer to whom the company owed so much and whom it had so harshly driven from its services eight years before.

The consternation, however, would not have been so great had they known the facts as Radisson knew them. A short distance up the river there was, as he knew, another English trading party, commanded by Captain Gillam's nephew. They were poachers, to be sure, but they were Britishers as well, and would not have objected seriously to the purchase of immunity from prosecution at the hands of the company by assisting in the expulsion of intruding Frenchmen. Audacity, however, carried the day for Radisson. The Prince Rupert itself was presently sunk in a storm, whereupon Radisson succored and then made prisoners of all members of the expedition. He also attacked and captured the poachers' fort and before the season was over be bad far more prisoners than he could conveniently look after. Accordingly, he was obliged to send some of them off to the British establishments at the foot of the bay.

Chouart Groseilliers, the son of Radisson's partner, together with seven other Frenchmen, Radisson left to hold Fort Nelson and he himself, in the Bachelor's Delight, the poaching vessel brought thither by Gillam, Jr., set out for Quebec by sea.

Upon his arrival at the capital of New France, Radisson found, to his chagrin, that the sturdy and none too scrupulous Frontenac, a man much after his own heart, had been replaced by De la Barre. That official refused to give countenance to Radisson's filibustering raid upon the English. Radisson and Groseilliers determined to appeal to the home government, and went over to France, where they received the public reprimand and private thanks of Louis XIV. The French government instructed Radisson to set sail for the bay again, but he was becoming wiser by experience. He refused to go without a written commission, the guarantee of a definite share in prospective profits from his trading enterprises and the payment of an indemnity for the furs confiscated by the Governor of New France so many years before. The French authorities kept him long in suspense while they haggled over his terms; and at this juncture Louis XIV determined that it would be good policy to placate the English. Accordingly Radisson and Groseilliers were commanded to proceed to England and formally restore Fort Nelson to the British Company. They landed in London in 16S4 and in disgust at their treatment by the French government they took the oath of allegiance to the British crown. The following quotation from the records of the great company indicates the terms of the settlement agreed upon:

'"In order to put an end to the differences which exist between the two nations of the French and English touching the Factory or Settlement made by Messrs. Groseilliers and Radisson 011 Hudson Bay, and to avoid the effusion of blood that may happen between the two said nations, for the preservation of that place; the expedient well, appeared most reasonable and advantageous for the Company is that the said Messrs. de Groseilliers and Radisson return to the sd. Factory or habitation, furnished with the passport of the English Company, importing that they shall withdraw the French wh. arc in garrison there with all the effects belonging to them in the space of eighteen months, to be accounted from the day of their departure by reason they cannot goe and come from the place in one year. . . . The said gentlemen shall restore to the English Company the Factory or Habitation by them settled in the sd. country to be thenceforward enjoyed by the English company without molestation. As to the indemnity pretended by the English for effects seized and brought to Quebec . . . that may be accommodated in bringing back the said inventory and restoring the same effects or their value to the English proprietors."

From the foregoing record it is evident that the Hudson's Hay Company received Radisson back with open arms and. as a matter of fact, he was promised liberal rewards. Into the details of his subsequent history \vc cannot enter, but they do not reflect credit on the great company. Having used him to their great advantage they discarded him like a broken tool and the unfortunate adventurer died in England in extreme poverty. Return to his own country had been rendered impossible by his transfer of citizenship, which had resulted in the French Government placing a price on his bead.

In the next act of the drama which we are studying, the leading characters are the D'Iberville brothers, Le Moync and Bienville, and their associate. De Troves.

Certain French adventurers had come down the Albany River to Fort Albany on James Bay, where the}' were seized as spies, and shipped to England. When this was noised abroad, three hundred French raiders, under the command of Le Moync D'Iberville and his companions above named, came overland from Montreal, nominally to release the spies, really to capture the forts. After a journey through six hundred miles of swamp and forest D'Iberville's filibusters surprised Fort Moo<c at the south west angle of James Bay and captured it in a midnight raid. Hurrying on to Fort Charles (known to the French, who for a time had held it. as Fort Bourbon) he found in the harbor of Fort Rupert a Hudson's Bay Company vessel with Governor Bridgar. D'Iberville hoarded the vessel in the blackness of the night and by sheer audacity captured both the vessel and the fort with hut little difficulty. lie then moved across against Fort Albany, but by this time the British at that place had heard of his operations and a surprise was impossible. The Frenchman demanded the surrender of the alleged spies, but the company's ship had already left with them for England. There followed a siege of two days, after which the English surrendered the fort with the honors of war and were placed upon Carlton Island to await the arrival of English boats. As a matter .of fact, D'Iberville's situation at this time was all but desperate. He was 1,300 miles from aid. and practically without food or ammunition. The English, however, were in equal straits, and evidently did not realize those of their enemy.

For ten long years the Bay was the scene of such raids as these, and many barbarities were inflicted upon each other by the French and English. Meantime, D'Iberville himself had gone off to Newfoundland 011 a filibustering enterprise, but he was ultimately recalled to lead the French in a linal and decisive struggle for the lordship of the Bay. Xo lover of stirring tales of adventure should fail to read Agnes Lant's Conquest of the Great North West, and I do not think that I can do better than to quote from its pages her vivid description of D'Iberville's extraordinary exploit of 1697.

"On the 3rd of September, Iberville anchored before Fort Nelson. Anxiously, for two days, he scanned the sea for the rest of his fleet. On the morning of the fifth the peaked sails of three vessels rose above the offing. Raising anchor, Iberville hastened out to meet them, and signaled a welcome. No response was signaled back. The horrified watch at the masthead called down some warning. Then the full extent of the terrible mistake dawned on Iberville.. These were not his consort ships at all. They were English men-of-war, the Hampshire, Captain Fletcher, fifty-two guns and sixty men; the Bering, Captain Grimmington, thirty guns and sixty men; the Hudson's Bay, Edgecombe and Stnithsend. thirty-two guns and fifty-five men—hemming him in a fatal circle between the English fort on the land and their own cannon at sea.

"One can guess the wild whoop of jubilation that went up from the Englishmen to see their enemy of ten years' merciless raids, now hopelessly trapped between their fleet and the fort. The English vessels had the wind in their favour and raced over the waves, all sails set, like a war troop keen for prey. Iberville didn't wait. He had weighed anchor to sail out when he thought the vessels were his own. and now he kept unswervingly on his course. Of his original crew, forty were invalided. Some twenty-five had been sent ashore to reconnoiter the fort. Counting the Canadians and Indians taken at Newfoundland, he could muster only one hundred and fifty fighting men. Quickly, ropes were stretched to give the mariners hand-hold over the frost-slippery decks. Stoppers were ripped from the fifty cannon, and the batterymen below, under La Salle and Grand Ville, had stripped naked in preparation for the hell of flame and heat that was to he their portion in the impending battle, Bienville. Ibverville's brother, swung the infantrymen in line above decks, swords and pistols prepared for the hand-to-hand grapple. De la Potherie got the Canadians to the forecastle, knives and war hatchets out, bodies stripped, all ready to board when the ships knocked keels. Iberville knew it was to be like those old time raids— a Spartan conflict—a fight to the death; death or victory; and he swept right up to the Hampshire, Fletcher's frigate, the strongest of the foe, where every shot would tell. The Hampshire shifted broadside to the French, and at nine in the morning the battle began.

"The Hampshire let fly two roaring cannonades that ploughed up the decks of the Pelican and stripped the French bare of masts to the hull. At the same instant Grimmington's Bering and Smithsend's Hudson's Bay circled to the left of the French and poured a stream of musketry fire across the Pelican's stern. At one blast, forty French were mowed down: but the batterymen below never ceased their crash of bombs straight into the Hampshire's hull.

"Iberville shouted for the infantrymen to fire into the Dering's forecastle, to pick off Grimmington if they could; and for the Canadian sharpshooters to rake the decks of the Hudson's Bay.

"For four hours the three-cornered battle raged. The ships were so close, shout and counter shout could be heard across the decks. Faces were singed with the closeness of the musketry fire. Ninety French had been wounded. The Pelican's deck swam in blood that froze to ice, slippery as glass, and trickled down the clinker boards in reddening splashes. Grape shot and grenade had set the fallen sails on fire. Sails and mastpoles and splintered davits were a mass of roaring flame that would presently extend to the powder magazine and blow all lo eternity. Railings bad gone over decks; and when the ship rolled, only the tangle of burning debris kept those on deck from washing into the sea. The bridge was crumbling. A shot had torn the high prow away: and still the batterymen below poured their storm of fire and bomb into the English hull. The fighters were so close, one old record says, and the holes torn by the bombs so large in the hull of each ship, that the gunners on the Pelican were looking into the eyes of the smoke-grimmed men below the decks of the Hampshire.

"For three hours the English had tacked lo board the Pelican, and for three hours the mastless splintered Pelican had fought like a demon to cripple her enemy's approach. The blood-grimmed, half naked men of both decks had rushed en masse for the last leap, the hand-to-hand fight, when a frantic shout went up.

"Then silence and fearful confusion, and a mad panic back from the tilting edges of the two vessels with cries from the wounded above the shriek of the sea.

"The batteries of the Hampshire had suddenly silenced. The great ship refused lo answer to the wheel. That persistent, undeviating fire bursting from the sides of the Pelican had done its work. The Hampshire gave a quick lurch. Before the amazed Frenchmen could believe their senses, amid a roar of flames and crashing billows and hiss of fires extinguished in an angry sea, the Hampshire, all sails set. settled and sank like a stone amid the engulfing billows. Not a soul of her two hundred and fifty men— one hundred and ninety mariners and servants, with sixty soldiers—escaped.

"The screams of the struggling seamen had not died on the waves before Iberville had turned the batteries of his shattered ship full force on Smithsend's Hudson's Bay. Promptly, the Hudson's Bay struck colors, but while Iberville was engaged boarding his captive and taking over ninety prisoners, Grimmington on the Dering showed swift heel and gained refuge in Fort Nelson."

Then followed a terrific storm in which the Pelican was driven ashore. The survivors were only rescued by the arrival of the two French vessels which D'Iberville had been expecting but which had failed to connect with him before the battle. Fort Nelson (York Factory) and indeed the whole territory through which the Hudson's Bay Company had operated, now fell into French hands. The great company was staggering to ruin under the burden of a war loss of £200.000 when peace was signed at Ryswick, 1697, leaving them 110 foothold in the Bay except Fort Albany.

For many years lo come British interests in North Western America rested upon a feeling very insecure indeed. For the Hudson's Bay Company, dividends became a far away dream of the past. When at last, however, the power of Louis XIV was humbled and the Treaty of Utrecht was signed, the French withdrew all claims upon the Bay, and the prosperity of the great company was restored.

A quarter of a century later the company found itself endangered, not by its foreign foes, but by domestic enemies. The leader of these was Arthur Dobbs, a vigorous writer and company promoter. For a dozen years be conducted a campaign against the monopoly exercised by tbe Hudson's Bay Company. Through his influence several exploratory expeditions were sent on a vain search for the northern waterway, and in 1749 the Hudson's Bay Company had to fight for its life—which it did most successfully—before a committee of the British House of Commons. Dobbs himself was in possession of a most exceptional fund of knowledge regarding North West America and seems to have been shrewd enough to recognize that in the interior was to be fought out to its still doubtful conclusion the great duel between the representatives of France and those of England.

In 1749 the company had still but a few trading posts on the shores of the bay and knew scarcely anything of the great interior whence came the Indian bands who traded with them. True it is that half a century earlier they had produced at least one notable explorer. This was Henry Kellsey, a London street arab, still but a lad when in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company lie was sent to Fort Nelson. There his pranks and ungovernable disposition caused the sleepy traders much disturbance. One infers from the records that the officers heaved a sigh of relief when the young madcap undertook to go off with the Indians and conduct explorations in the interior with a view to the encouragement of commerce and the possible establishment of trading posts. While the story of Kellsey's adventures rests almost entirely upon his unsupported word, ami while the whole narrative has by some been treated as a fabrication, present .day historical critics are pretty well convinced of his good faith. The route he followed is certainly doubtful. Brycc thinks it would take him into Manitoba, but this conclusion is more than questionable. It is generally agreed, however, that Kellsey penetrated the prairies and northern wilds of what is now the Province of Saskatchewan, and that he was the first white man to see them. In view of these facts all readers of the History of Saskatchewan will be interested in examining the young adventurer's diary. Its very baldness, monotony and crudity are internal evidence of' its authenticity as a picture of the first exploratory journey into Saskatchewan. It is reproduced from the Parliamentary Report of 1749 regarding Hudson's Bay Company affairs.

A Journal of a Vovage and Journey Undertaken by Henry Kellsvey, Through God's Assistance, to Discover and Bring to Commerce, the Naywatamee Ports.

July 15th, 1692. Now having received those things in full which the Governor sent me, takes my Departure from Deering's Point for the Stone Indians, which were gone Ten Days before; We, having no Provision, paddled about 18 miles, and came to.

16th. To-day set forward again, and paddled in Pond within Land Dist. 25 Miles, and came to.

17th. Now getting into the River, the Stream running very strong; and we having no Sustenance whereby to follow our Chace, concluded to take our Course into the Woods on the Morrow having got To-day about 20 miles.

18th. Today about X0011 we pitched by a little Creek, and set our Nets, and made our Storehouses, and laid up our Canoes, & rested the remaining Part of the Day, having catched Three Pike in our Nets. Dist. about 8 miles.

19th. This Morning set forward into the woods, and having travelled about Ten Miles, came to, and went a hunting, all returning in the Evening, having killed nothing but Two Wood Partridges, and One Squirrel.

20th. So setting forward again, had not gone above Nine Miles but came on the Tract of Indians which had passed Four Days before, having seen their old tents; they having killed two Muse, I thought they might have Victuals, so sent an Indian with my Pipe, and some Tobacco, desiring relief of them, and to stay for me; To day we travelled about 18 Miles.

21st. Setting forward again, about Eleven a Clock, meeting with my host, telling me lie bad seen no Indians, I presently caused another Indian to set forward, being heavy loaded myself, and could not go, having travelled about 16 Miles.

22nd. This Morning having much Rain, but Hunger forcing me to leave my Company, set forward with two Indians, to seek for those which were gone before, hoping to get relief of them; Travelled 25 Miles, and came to.

23rd. To-day about Noon, one Indian turning back, fearing the women would starve, which were behind, so proceeded forward myself, having travelled about 30 Miles. Having nothing to eat but one Wood Partridge, came to.

24th. Setting forward again, about Noon came up with their Tents they had left To-day, hut having increased from two to seven; and about Six in the Evening came up with them, they having nothing to eat but Grass and Perries, Part of which they gave to me; so in the Evening their People returned from Hunting; one had killed Two Swans, and another a Buck Muse, Part of which they gave to me, we having travelled to-day about 20 Miles.

25th. This Morning I desired them not to pitch very far, but to stay for them which were behind; which accordingly they did; About Ten Miles, came to.

26th. To-day I bid them lie still, and go a Hunting; accordingly they did; So they which were behind came up with us in the Evening; our Hunters likewise having killed Five Beasts.

27th. To-day we pitched, and about Ten came to where one Beast lay to suffice our Hunger; About Two this afternoon came Five Indians, Strangers, to our Tents; Dist. about seven miles.

28th. This instance the Indian having told 11s their News, which was, that they desired of us to meet them at an appointed Place; so we told them we would; and in the Evening they returned to their Tents.

29th. To-day we pitched, having no want of victuals; Dist. 12 Miles, and came to.

30th. Now we pitched again, about ten miles, and came to.

31st. This Morning it rained very hard; but in the Afternoon it cleared up; so we pitched about Nine Miles and came to.

August 1, 1692. To-day we pitched again, and got to the Place where they appointed us; but they were gone before Fifteen Miles, by estimation, To-day.

2nd. Now we followed their Track, and in the Evening came up with them, they being in number about 26 Tents, we having travelled near 18 Miles to-day.

3d. This morning we pitched about 15 Miles, and came to.

4th. To-day we lay still, having Strangers come to our Tents from some Stone Indians, which were to the Southward of us, bringing News, that the Naywatamee Poets had killed Three of the Home Indian Women the last spring; and withal appointed where they would meet us; but as for the Naywatamee Poets, they were lied so far, that I should not sec them.

5th. Now we pitched again, the Strangers likewise returning to their Tents, I telling them, if by any Means they could come to a Speech of those Indians aforesaid, to tell them to come to me, not fearing anyone should do them any harm: so, giving them some Tobacco, parted:' Our Dist. To-day being near Twelve Miles.

8th. Now lying still, I sent two Indians to seek for the Mountain Poets, and tell them I would meet them at a place 40 Miles before us.

9th. This Day we pitched about 16 Miles, and come to.

10th. We pitched again, the Indians having killed Beasts in Abundance Yesterday; and where they lay, we came to; Dist. 8 Miles.

11th. To-day we lav still for the Women to fetch the Meat home and dress it.

12th. This Day we pitched again, and about Noon the Ground begins for to grow healthy and barren in Fields of about half a Mile wide; So we came to; Dist. Ten Miles.

13th. Now is raining very hard caused us to lie still To-day.

14th. To-day we pitched, the ground continuing as before; but no Fir growing, the Wood being, for the most part Poplo and Birch, Having travelled by Estimation Twelve Miles, came to.

15th. This instant one Indian lying a dying, and withal, a Murmuring which was amongst the Indians, because I would not agree for them to go to wars; so I made a feast of Tobacco, telling them it was none of the way to have the Use of English guns and other Things; nor should go near the Governor, for he would not look upon them, if they did not cease from warring; so lay still.

16th. Now, not knowing which would conquer, Life or Death, lay still; To-day our People went a hunting, but had small success.

17th. Last Night Death seized on Him; and this Morning was burnt in a Fire, according to their Way. they making a great Feast for him that died; so after the Flesh was burned, his bones were gathered up and hurried, with Logs set up, round it; So we pitched to about 14 Miles, and came to, they holding it not good for to stay by the Dead.

18th. This Day 1 sent two Indians to seek for those which were so long gone, fearing they might have come to some Misfortune; So we pitched To-day Light Miles, and came to.

19th. Now setting forward again, the Ground being more barren than formerly, the Indians having seen some Buffalo, but killing none; Dist. Estimation 12 Miles.

20th. To-day we pitched to the outermost Edge of the Woods, the Plain affording nothing but short round sticky grass, and Buffalo, not like those to the Northward, their Horns growing like an English Ox, but Black and short; Dist. about Six Miles.

21st. This day we lay still, expecting a Post, but none came.

22nd. Now we pitched into the barren Ground ; it is very dry Ground, and no Water; nor could not see the Woods on the other Side; Dist. Sixteen Miles.

24th. This Day we lay still, waiting for a Post, which came in the Afternoon from the Stone Indian Captain named Waska, who desired us to meet him when we pitched again.

25th. So we pitched to-day. and came to alltogether; so we were in all Eighty Tents; We travelled by Estimation Twelve Allies; yet not reach the woods.

26th. Now we are all together, they made a Feast, desiring Leave of me for them to go to Wars; but I told them I would not grant them their Request; for the Governor would not allow me to do so.

27th. To-day we pitched, and got to the Woods on the other Side, this Plain being about Forty-Six miles over, and runs through great Part of' the Country; We had travelled Six Miles To-day, when we came to.

28th. This day we lay still for the Indians to hunt Buffalo; for there is none of those Beasts in the Woods; so I fitted Six Indians out for to go to seek for some Naywatamee Poets.

31st. This Day the Indians made a Feast, desiring of me for to be their Post to a Parcel of Indians which was to the Northward of us, and to desire them to stay for us, they telling in an Indian would not be believed, although he went.

Sept. 1st. To-day I set forward with Eight Indians, one of which was my Interpreter; and having travelled about Thirty Miles, came to.

2nd. So setting forward again, it being very bad Weather, we lost the Track; so I filled Two Pipes according to their Way, and gave them to Two Young Men, telling them to go seek for the Track, which accordingly they did; so we made a fire; but a great Parcel of Buffalo appearing in Sight, we gave them Chace, and by the Way found the Track, and in the Evening came up with them; We travelled To-day by Estimation Twenty Five Miles.

3rd. This Morning they made a Tent, and provided a Feast, to hear what I had to say; so 1 told them my Message; which was for them to for those which I came from: and withal that they must not go to Wars, for it will not be liked on by the Governor; and that be will not trade with them, if they did not cease from Warring.

4th. To-day 1 sent Two Indians back to tell our People to make haste hither, I tarrying there myself to hear what News some young Men brought, which were gone Three Days before I came, to seek for their Enemies.

5th. About Ten this morning the Young Men appearing in Sight, and crying out just like a Crane; which gave a Sign, that they had discovered their Enemies; and as soon as they came near to the Tent they sat down all in a Row upon the Grass, saying not one Word; so the old Men tilled their Pipes, and served them round, and cried for Joy they had discovered their Enemies, the voting Men having brought some old Arrows to verify what they had been about.

6th. This instant I unclosed the Pipe which the Governor sent me telling them that they must employ their Time in catching of Beaver; for that will be better liked on when they come to the Factory, than the killing of their Enemies.

8th. To-day we pitched again, and by the Way met with those Strangers I had left formerly: and in the Afternoon came Four Indians Post from those which are called the Naywatamee Poets, the which 1 kindly intreated, and made very much of, inquiring for their Captain: who gave me an Account that he was Two Days lournev behind ours; Not extending Eight Miles To-Day.

9th. This Morning 1 went to the Captain of the Stone Indians Tent with a Piece of Tobacco, telling him to make a Speech to all and tell them not to meddle nor disturb the Naywatamee Poets: for I was going back-to invite and encourage them to a Peace: which they all freely consented to; so I took my Way back along with those which came yesterday; And, having travelled near Eighteen Miles, came to.

10th. This Morning setting out again, mv Strangers left me, because they could make better Way to their Tents than I could; So we travelled till Night, and came to. Dist. 20 Miles.

12th. This Morning, having not wherewithal to invite the Captain to. filled my Pipe, which the Governor sent me; and then sent for liini who was their Captain : so told him he should not mind what had passed formerly, as concerning their being killed by the Naybavtbayays and Stone Indians; and as for the future, we English would seek to prevent it from going any further; and withal gave him my Present, Coat, Cap. and Sash, and one of my Guns, with Knives, Awls, and Tobacco, with small Quantity of Powder and Shot, and part of all such Things as the Governor sent me: so he seemed to be very well contented, and told me he had forgot what had passed, although they had killed most Fart of his Kindred; but told me, he was sorry he had not wherewithal for to make me Amends for what I had given him: but he would meet me the next Spring at Deering's Point, and go with me to the Factory, lint it happened in the Winter after I parted with them, that the Naybaytbaways Indians came up with Two Tents of them, and killed them; which struck a new Fear into them, and they would not venture down, fearing that the Naybaytbayways would not let them up into their own Country again ; so when I was at Deering's Point in the Spring which is the Place of Restoration, when they are coming down to trade, I had News came, that the Captain aforesaid had sent me a Pipe and Stem of his own making; and withal that if 1 would send him a Tiece of Tobacco from the Factory, he would certainly come down the next Year; but if not the Beaver which is in their Country arc in-numerable, and will certainly be brought down every year.

So having not lo enlarge, 1 rest,

Honourable Masters,

Your Most Obedient, and Faithful Servant, At Command,

British records contain no further explicit accounts of travels in the interior until the publication by Dobbs in 1743 of the story of Joseph la France. This interesting character was a French half-breed, born at Michilimackinac, and from him Dobbs had obtained a verbal narrative of his adventures. Until the age of twenty-seven or twenty-eight he was engaged as a fur trader and hunter, generally in the vicinity of his birthplace. It will be remembered that, during the French regime, such a business could be conducted only under government license. On a certain occasion be was the victim of robbery and oppression at the hands of the Governor at Quebec, when endeavoring to obtain a license, and to escape further persecution he took flight, travelled westward to Lake Winnipeg via the Grand Portage and thence to the head of the bay by the Ilayes River route, to join the English. He reached York Factory June 29, 1742, three years and a half after leaving Sault Ste. Marie. However, the pathway indicated by the courage of this Metis was not turned to advantage by the British Company.

Meantime, in Eastern Canada there had arisen a heroic explorer of whom Canadians today of whatever racial origin are unanimously proud. This was Pierre Gaulthier de Yarennes de la Yerendrye.2 He was born in 1686, his baptismal name being Pierre Gaultier. Before he was put of his 'teens he had seen campaigns in New England and Newfoundland, after which, in the military service of France, he went to Europe, and at the Battle of Malplaquet in 1709 he was seriously wounded. A few years later he returned to Canada, where in 1728 we find him commandant of a trading post at Nipegon and becoming profoundly interested in the search for the Western Sea. In 1730 he visited Montreal to discuss with Beauharnois, the Governor, the plans he had in mind for western exploration, and he spent the following winter in preparations. The government could not, or would not, supply funds for exploratory work, though La Yerendrye was granted the monopoly of the fur trade in the country he would explore. It was consequently necessary for him to make provision for the expenses of his undertaking. This could be effected only by the prosecution of the fur trade conjointly with the work of exploration. In the nature of things these two enterprises could not proceed satisfactorily under a single management. The rest of La Verendrye's life was continually embittered by the accusations and intrigues of those who alleged, some that he was neglecting the fur trade for exploration, others that lie. was neglecting exploration for the fur trade. The first charge involved him in wretched litigation with Canadian merchants who were financing his enterprise; the second weakened his precarious hold upon the good will of the government.

In June, 1731, he set out from Montreal, and 011 August 26 we find him at Grand Portage, fifteen leagues beyond Kaministiquia. lie was accompanied by his nephew, Christopher on frost, Sieur de la Jemmeraye, a tried and competent frontiersman, who was his chief lieutenant; by three of his four heroic sons, Jean, Pierre and Francois, aged, respectively, eighteen, seventeen and sixteen years; a missionary or chaplain, Father Messaiger; and about forty-five voyagers. At Grand Portage, however, lie found himself checked by a mutiny. In quelling it the influence of his chaplain and of La Jenneraye was invaluable, and a compromise was effected. A small number of the voyagers, with La Yerendrye's nephew and eldest son, were to advance to Rainy Lake and establish a post. Meanwhile La Yerendrye himself, with the rest of the party, would go into winter quarters at Kaministiquia.

In the following year La Jemmeraye returned from Rainy Lake, where he had built a good post, which, in honor of his uncle, he called Fort Saint Pierre. In June La Yerendrye and his company went thither. From that point La Yerendrye, escorted by fifty canoes of Indians, advanced to the Lake of the Woods, where he built Fort St. Charles, which for the time being he made his headquarters. His eldest son proceeded during the winter to the mouth of the Winnipeg River, where he established Fort Maurepas. Abbe Dngas is among the authorities who believe that a traveller by the name of De Xoyon had already penetrated this country, but Lawrence Burpee and most recent students are convinced that Jean Baptiste Yerendrye was the first white man to reach Lake Winnipeg. This fort was built in 1734. It stood 011 the north side of the River Winnipeg, near the present Alexander, and was not long in use. Meanwhile, La Jemmeraye, accompanied by the missionary, had returned to Montreal for further financial assistance, which, however, lie failed to obtain. Accordingly La Yerendrye. who was now at the very end of his resources, was obliged to return, but his optimism and enthusiasm obtained for him from his .Montreal partners a measure of the assistance he required. A short time after his return to the fort at the Lake of the Woods, his eldest son came from Maurepas with the news of the sudden death of La Jemmeraye. This heavy blow was followed almost immediately by a still more crushing calamity. Jean de la Yerendrye, Father Aulneau, the new chaplain, and a party comprising the crew of three canoes, were massacred by the Sioux on June 8, 1736. The unfortunate father was almost heart-broken and bis letters and journals referring to this event are pathetic in the extreme. Nevertheless, his purpose remained unshaken, and after another visit to Montreal he advanced to the site of the city of Winnipeg. He ascended the Assiniboine to Portage la Prairie, where he built Fort la Peine, from which point he pressed west by south to the upper waters of the Missouri, the home of the Mandans.3He left two men with these Indians to learn their language and fit themselves to act as guides for further explorations, and returned to Fort la Peine, reaching it only after terrible hardships. The Indians with whom he was endeavoring to establish trade insisted upon the building of a post on Lake Manitoba (Lac des Prairies). Yerendrye, accordingly sent Pierre lo make the necessary explorations. He visited the mouth of the Saskatchewan River, which appears in the journal as Paskoyac, and Fort Dauphin was established about fifty miles south east from the site of Fort Cumberland.

De la Yerendrye was compelled to make two more visits fo the Fast. From Montreal in 1740 he wrote directing his sons, with the Frenchmen who had remained with the Mandans, to proceed westward in their search for the sea. In their first attempt they failed to secure the Indian guides they desired and therefore returned to Fort la Reine. It was at this time that Fort Dauphin was built 011 the site previously selected and Fort Bourbon on the Saskatchewan.4 In the spring of 1842 the two sons, Pierre and Franqois, together with the Frenchmen who had wintered with the Mandans. revisited the upper Mississippi Yalley. They then proceeded westward, travelling through what are now the northern states of the American Union and earning immortal fame by reaching the Rocky Mountains in January, 1743. They were compelled lo turn back on account of the refusal of their Indian guides to go farther for fear of massacre. Tbe return journev to Fort la Reine was by another route and they were welcomed back bv their father after an absence of fourteen months. De la Verendrve at once reported the exploit to Governor Reauharnois. but owing to the intrigues of his enemies at the French court, neither he nor his sons received any reward, though they were specially recommended for it bv the Governor.

After again visiting Fort I'askoyac on the Saskatchewan River, young Pierre was recalled in 1745 by Heauharnois and given a position in the army. In the following year the father was obliged to return to Montreal to face his calumniators and De Novelles was placed in charge of his forts. The effect was disastrous to French interests in the west. The Indian wars, which De la Yerendrye had restrained, broke out afresh and the Indians ceased to frequent the French trading stations, gradually drifting back to those of the English at the bay.

Young Pierre De la Yerendrye, after distinguishing himself in the military service, obtained permission to return to the West in 1747. and, under his father's instructions, he proceeded up the Saskatchewan River to The Forks, which he reached in the autumn of 1749.

Meantime, Beauharnois had been replaced by Galissonniere, whose letters on the explorer's behalf produced better results. His sons were given military promotion, and De la Yerendrye pcrc was decorated with the Cross of St. Louis and commissioned to return to his explorations. It was too late, however, and 011 December 6, 1749, the famous explorer suddenly died at Montreal, at the age of sixty-three. The sons were recalled, and in spite of their earnest and dignified protests they were precluded from continuing the work which they and their father had so heroically begun.

The successor of the Yerendryes was Captain Jacques Repentigny Legardeur de Saint Pierre. He went to Fort la Reine in 1751 and sent his lieutenant, Niverville, on ahead, but through ill health that officer was obliged to halt at Fort Paskoyac. However, Niverville despatched ten of his men into the far West, who built Fort La Jonquiere at the foot of the Rockies, probably on the south branch of the Saskatchewan River.

The end of France's effort to establish control of Western America was at hand. Saint Pierre himself was brave, but unscrupulous and high handed, and he and bis agents did not succeed in maintaining friendly relations with the Indians. He resigned in 1763 and his successor, De la Corue, had no better fortune. Not by such men as these was the work of the Verendrye's to come to fruition and North Western America to be held for France.

Nevertheless, much had been done in the West by the French before the final catastrophe of the Plains of Abraham. They had discovered and explored the water route to the Red River, that river itself, the Assinibome, the Missouri Yalley to the foothills of the Rockies, Lake Manitoba, Lake Dauphin, Lake Winnipegosis, and the Saskatchewan River, and had followed at least one of its branches to its upper waters. If the Government of France had known how to appreciate and support such heroes as the Yerendryes, the French power might have been represented in trading posts all over the territories claimed and ultimately held in the name of England by the Hudson's Bay Company.

Except for Kellsey's perplexing journey of adventure westward from the bay, probably into northern Saskatchewan, the great company and its servants had as yet done practically nothing in the way of exploration. Indeed, the great duel between France and England would have been a very onesided affair in America had it not been that in the approaching crisis England recognized the man for her tasks in William Fill, and he the man for his tasks in General Wolfe.

The only recorded intercourse of French and English adventurers in the Far West, prior to the fall of Ouebec, was of a very friendly character. In 1754 and 1755 Anthony Hendry, a young Englishman, hold and enterprising, who had gotten into trouble for smuggling, volunteered to his superiors at York Factory to explore the interior and winter with the Indians. He was absent nearly a year, lie left York Factory 011 June 26. 1754, travelling south west via the Hayes River. His route has been the object of much dispute, apparently because the waterway he followed is in considerable part unmarked on any ordinary map, and. indeed, has been rediscovered only within recent years. On July 21 his canoe was on the mighty Saskatchewan, his being the first English eyes to see the noble stream from which the central prairie province derives its name. Having journeyed a short distance up stream, he came to a French trading fort established in the preceding year by De la Corne. There lie was courteously entertained, though some attempt was made, or threatened, to intimidate him from pursuing his explorations further. This was the first meeting on record of emissaries of Britain and France in the North West. Indeed. Hendry's intercourse with the French during this expedition of 1754-1755 created a precedent never to be followed in the remaining fifteen years during which France was to dispute with England the lordship of America.

The French post, at which Hendry first met the Frenchman, was situated at the Pas. and near its deserted ruins the Hudson's Bay Company subsequently built one of their most important establishments. This is the only one of the numerous French trading posts that has remained a commercial centre from the days of the French regime until the present.

Continuing bis journey. Hendry presently left the Saskatchewan River, crossed to Carrot River and on July 27 took to the prairies.

As be advanced into what is now the province of Saskatchewan, lie wrote in his journal, "1 am now entering a most pleasant and plentiful country of hills and dales and little woods." Proceeding south west Hendry and his Indian companions crossed the South Saskatchewan in bull boats somewhere near Clarke's crossing, not far from the old telegraph line." Three days later he reached the North Saskatchewan between the mouth of Eagle Scaixh for the Wcs/i-m S\\i, page 125.

Ilill Creek and tbe Elbow."" The country between the North and South Saskatchewan he was tbe first white man to explore, and to him we owe the first detailed description of the South Saskatchewan and the Red Deer Rivers with the adjacent prairie, lie was, moreover, the first English trader to meet the black fleet, by whom he was kindly received. The following is copied from his journal: "The leader's tent was large enough to contain fifty persons, lie received us, seated 011 a buffalo skin, attended by twenty elderly men. He made signs for me to sit down 011 his right hand, which I did. Our leaders (the Assiniboines )set several large pipes going the rounds and we smoked according to their custom. Not one word was spoken. Smoking over, boiled buffalo flesh was served in baskets of bent wood. I was presented with ten buffalo tongues. My guides informed the leader 1 was sent by the grand leader who lives on the Great Waters to invite his young men down with their furs. They would receive in return, powder, shot guns, and cloth, he made little answer; said it was far off and his people could not paddle. We were then ordered to depart to our tents, which we pitched a quarter of a mile outside their tents. The chief told me his tribe never wanted food as they followed the buffalo, but he was informed the natives who frequented the settlements often starved on their journey, which was exceedingly true."

From a commercial standpoint Hendry's expedition was not remarkably successful. The French had already established what might well have been a permanent hold upon the Indian trade. To be sure, the young Englishman on his return journey started with a great cargo of furs, but the wiles of the French traders, past whose establishments he journeyed, were too much for his Indians to resist, and but few of his peltries were left when he arrived back at York Factory.

One feature of Hendry's narrative entirely discredited him with the English traders. He told them of the Blackfeet Indians, a race of nomads equipped with numberless horses. This, to the wiseacres of the Hudson's Hay Company, was manifest mention on his part, for at that time they did not even know there were such tribes of horsemen anywhere in the interior. Hendry was accordingly treated as a romancer and badgered out of the service of the company.

This practically ended the British explorations of the North West prior to 1740, from which date they will be recorded in the following chapter. The Hudson's Bay Company, in its corporate capacity, gave but little encouragement to the great work, and though among its officers there have been many men who rank high as explorers, they achieved that distinction usually in spite of the company's apathy, rather than by its encouragement.


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