Sunday, November 11, 2012

From Fort William to Norway House

We are going to begin this posting with a quote from David Lavender's book, "Winner Take All":
"Those who had crossed the Height of Land that hemmed in Lake Superior were acknowledged as members of a select brotherhood by being baptized with water sprinkled from an evergreen bough. From then on they had the right to don gay sashes at Grand Portage or Kaministiguia, put feathers in their caps, and strut down to the camp of the porkeaters from Montreal, stand spraddle-legged in front of them and invite a fight with the boast, "Je suise un home du nord.""

He was a man of the north -- he had travelled the route between Fort William and Lake Winnipeg and beyond; he was a true adventurer and far better than any of the "porkeaters" who had brought the Montreal canoes up from Lachine.
He was a permanent employee in the fur trade; he was wiry and short and averaged five feet in height but was enormously strong and apparently inexhaustible.
His pace was breathtaking; he paddled at 40 or 50 strokes a minute and averaged about 100 kilometers a day, even while travelling upriver.
On the innumerable portages along these rivers north of Lake Superior, he carried two or three ninety pound packs at a time, at a dogtrot over the rough trails, using, as aids, leather tumplines that circled his forehead and passed over his shoulders.
He waded his canoe through the various obstacles, or carried it across the portage on his shoulders.
And from Lavender's "Winner Take All," another quote:
"Another bond came from the way they travelled together month after month, each proud of his own canoe, his fellows, his brigade. On the trail they were under the charge not of one of the "gentlemen," but of one of their own class who had risen, because of superior ability, to be a guide. It was he who chose each camping place, announced the rest pauses when the men could fire up their clay pipes, and decided how each rapid should be met. The guide was also responsible for the property in the canoes under his supervision. His was the almost impossible task of making sure that liquor kegs were not surreptitiously tapped during the march (all travel was called a march) and that goods were not harmed by rough handling."

Aha -- there is a story in that last line, which I will tell you eventually.
But first, let us talk about Fort William, which was built at the mouth of the Kaministiguia River in 1801-1803, by the men of the North West Company.
The actual fort stood on the north bank of the Kiministikwia River, opposite where the middle channel broke off. (I see my spelling here varies -- I am not sure which spelling is correct).
Its south side faced the river, and its east side Lake Superior; it was surround by fifteen foot tall palisades and its interior was 490 feet square.
Two blockhouse or bastions stood, one in the south west corner and one in the south east; the main gate was cut into the south wall and it, too, had a guard house or turret overhead.
The gardens were west of the fort; inside the fort was the cooperage, the canoe building yard, and shops for tinsmiths and blacksmiths and carpenters and more.
The counting house stood along the west wall, the fire pump and stone store on the south wall.
Along the east wall was the lookout, where men stood to watch for the brigades coming along the lake.
In the centre of the enclosed fort grounds was the "court," a square formed by warehouses, clerks' quarters and other storehouses.
The Grand Hall stood on the north side of the court; it was a wooden building with a large central hall that help two hundred celebrants at one time.
This was where the gentlemen congregated at the NWC's summer rendezvous every year.
The voyageurs themselves camped outside the fort walls, where their bragging and fights would be less disruptive to the business of the fur trade.

The modern day replica of Fort William is built further upriver than the original fort stood; its old location is apparently buried under the modern-day site of the Canadian Pacific Railway yard in Thunder Bay.

From old Fort William, let us now travel north and west from Lake Superior, to and through Lake Winnipeg to Norway House.
I have told you the fort stood opposite the place where the middle channel broke off.
From here, the canoes went upriver for thirty miles, where there were shallow riffles of fast water and one decharge.
The first portage was called the Mountain portage, and it passed the 120-foot-tall Kakabeka Falls on the right or west bank.
It was not an easy portage; nor was any part of the route easy.
It followed a convoluted waterway with numerous portages all the way to Lake Winnipeg.
But it was a beautiful route, and for the westbound voyageurs the journey was downstream almost all the way to Lake Winnipeg.

Generally the Nor'Westers saved time by transporting goods by road to a place above the Kakabeka Falls -- almost certainly the HBC men continued this practice.
Above the falls the river dropped a difficult ten feet to the mile with seven portages and one decharge.
At Dog Lake -- named for an Indian effigy of an outsized dog lying at the top of a 400 foot high hill that overlooked the beautiful Kaministikiwia Valley -- the gentlemen climbed the hill to enjoy the view while the voyageurs packed their goods and canoes over the trail below.
They paddled fifty miles across Dog Lake, and followed the marshy Dog River, Jordain Creek, and Cold Water Creek, to Cold Water River.
Three boggy portages on the west side of the cold lake brought them to Land Lake and Lac de Milieu (now Savanne Lake).
They followed the winding Savanne River to island studded Lac des Mille Lacs, and portaged over a divide at Baril Portage, into another river -- the Pickerel.
From the west end of Pickerel Lake they crossed over the Pickerel and Deux Rivieres portages into Sturgeon Lake, then down the Maligne River to Lac la Croix.

Before 1830 the voyageurs followed the Loon River from the west end of Lac la Croix, through Vermillion and Sand Point Lake into Lake Namakan.
After 1830, it appears that they preferred another route, which left Lac la Crois from a bay on the north shore and stroke directly for Namaken Lake, by what they called the Michan River.
I presume that the Michan River is the route that Alexander Caulfield Anderson travelled when he went over this river route in 1832.

Namaken Lake has two outlets, and the North West Company men followed a smaller waterway that flowed from the east side of the lake and headed directly for Rainy Lake, passing just below Kettle Falls.
Two small portages brought them into wild and beautiful Rainy Lake.
As they begin their descent of the Rainy River, they leave behind them the rocky Canadian Shield, and begin to travel through a gentler, softer country.
A two day journey down this rapid river, uninterrupted by portages of any sort, brings them into Lake of the Woods -- a large rocky lake filled with small islands.
Here the voyageurs could get lost, and on occasion, they did.

The north and east part of the Lake of the Woods had deep water, rocky shores and thousands of islands; but the shores on the southwest were shallow and marshy, while the south shore had sand dunes.
The voyageurs entered the lake on its south shore, and headed straight north across the open lake, making what they called "la grande traverse" across what is now called Traverse Bay.
Normally the voyageurs skirted the west side of Big Island -- but if the treacherous wind they called La Vieille ("Old Woman") blew, they paddled through sheltered narrows east of both Big Island, and Bigelow Island.
At the north end of the lake they entered the Winnipeg River by one of three channels.
They almost always used the shortest portage at Portage Bay, though lighter HBC canoes used a longer portage to the east.
Another historian says they headed "to the western tip of Aulneau Peninsula, a more direct and nearly north-south route, seventy five miles long. At the tip of the pininsula they had a portage in the middle of the lake at low water."
Though descriptions differ, it is probable that both writers are talking of the same place.
This is the famous Rat Portage.
We are now close to modern day Kenora, and Eric Morse says here that another portage might have been used.

At Rat Portage, the voyageurs entered the wild and beautiful waterway called the Winnipeg River. Eric Morse says the Winnipeg River is "unquestionably the grandest and most beautiful river the Montreal Northmen saw on their whole journey from Lake Superior to Lake Athabasca."
It ran through "tortured rock" and "dropped quickly with spectacular rapids and falls."
It was a downhill journey and over its 225 kilometer length the river dropped 100 meters.
Canoeing the entire length of the river to Lake Winnipeg required twenty six portages, or carrying places!
First came the Dalles, eight miles downriver.
Next an island which the voyageurs passed on its rapid filled north side, using five portages at least.
Some they passed on the right side, some on the left; it took an experienced guide to know the best route, as you can see.
There was yellow rock at Terre Jaune, white clay at Terre Blanche, and a dark hollow in the rock beside La Cave rapid.
Portage de l'Isle followed nineteen miles later, and the voyageurs portaged across a small island in the rapid.
Over the next sixty miles the Winnipeg River continues to drop rapidly, and at Lac du Bonnet has lost 160 feet in altitude.
There were 14 additional portages -- Sturgeon Falls being one of them.

The Winnipeg River comes to an end at a large island, where a channel to the north splits off and becomes the Pinawa River.
The river to the left -- the Blanche River -- was much rougher, and so the voyageurs preferred the shallow, rocky Pinawa.
Eight more portages brought them all the way into massive Lake Winnipeg, where the voyageurs took a course straight across Traverse Bay to a low spot in the narrow neck just south of modern-day Victoria Beach.
They portaged over the neck and, paddling the the mouth of the Red River, went down it as far as Fort Garry.

When Alexander Caulfield Anderson came over this route in 1832, he arrived at the half constructed lower Fort Garry -- the Stone Fort.
There he met John Stuart -- yes, the same John Stuart who was clerk in New Caledonia with Simon Fraser, after whom Stuart Lake was named.
When I tell you that Alexander Caulfield Anderson knew everybody, this is what I mean -- he met Simon Fraser at Lachine, and John Stuart at the half-built Stone Fort, or Lower Fort Garry.
John Stuart and Alexander Anderson would have a later conversation, which I will write about sometime -- it is a story that, I believe, will surprise a few historians and archivists.

The Stone fort was built on the west bank of the Red River a few kilometers below St. Andrew Rapids, high above the reach of the floodwaters of the Red River.
Despite its advantages for the brigades, Lower Fort Garry was never really viable and in 1836 the HBC re-built their old fort at the "Forks", where Winnipeg now stands.

From my book, The Pathfinder:
"At that time, the original Fort Garry, which had been flooded out so many times the wooden buildings were rotten, was in the process of being replaced by a stone fort closer to Lake Winnipeg.   The new fort was only half finished, but the brigaders stopped here to pick up the Red River fur returns, which they were to carry north to York Factory. At Fort Garry, the chief factor arranged for Anderson to travel by canoe ahead of the brigade so he could catch up to the boats from the Saskatchewan District to the west, as they passed through Norway House, at the north end of Lake Winnipeg, on their way to York Factory.
"Anderson arrived at Norway House on the morning of June 27, and by five o'clock that evening he was travelling east toward York Factory, with the men from Edmonton House and the Columbia  District. The Fort Vancouver men had crossed the Rocky Mountains in the early spring, carrying the papers and records of the Columbia district east to the annual meeting of the Company at Norway House. While the chief factors attended the meeting, the men of the Columbia express continued on to York Factory to help the Saskatchewan men off-load their furs for shipment to England, and pick up the thousands of pounds of supplies and trade goods to be carried back to Edmonton House. As Anderson had been assigned to the Columbia district, he would now travel with the Columbia express wherever it went -- first east to York Factory; then west to Edmonton House and beyond."

Friday, November 2, 2012

The journey from Lachine to Fort William [Thunder Bay]

It is not likely we will get all the way to Norway House in this single posting, and so this post will probably be divided into two postings.
If you are researching these river roads or want to learn more, the best sources (and the ones I will be using) are these two books:
Exploring the Fur Trader Routes of North America; Discover the Highways that Opened a Continent, by Barbara Huck et al, and
The Fur Trade Routes of Canada: Then and Now, by Eric W. Morse.
Both books are available in your local library and the first will still be in bookstores, I expect.

We will begin with a quote from my own book, The Pathfinder, which speaks of young Anderson's arrival in Montreal, in 1831.
"In the summer of 1831, Alexander Anderson disembarked in Montreal and clambered into a lumbering, two wheeled, horse drawn cart -- called a caleche -- for the nine mile trek west to Lachine. The post stood at the head of the Lachine rapids, which blocked marine traffic on the St. Lawrence River west of Montreal. As headquarters of the North West Company, Lachine House had once been the busiest place on the continent, its stone warehouse bulging with rich furs from the interior. But the HBC's headquarters was now at York Factory, on Hudson Bay, and Anderson soon realized that his dreams of adventure in Indian country would never occur at this quiet post......

"In Spring 1832, the governor and council of the Hudson's Bay Company assigned Anderson to the Columbia district, where Chief Factor John McLoughlin would put him to good use. In April, two flotillas of canoes paddled away from Lachine. The express boats travelled light and fast with papers and accounts for the annual meeting of the Company at Norway House. Behind them came the slower canoes of the brigade, heavily laden with the outgoing provisions and passengers for the interior. One of these brigade canoes carried Anderson away from Lachine House.

"From Lachine House, the canoe route followed the traditional river road used for hundreds of years by the coureurs de bois (early French fur traders), and more recently by the voyageurs of the NWC. David Thompson had travelled this route many times, as had Simon Fraser and Alexander Mackenzie. Now 18-year-old Anderson followed the same route his predecessors had travelled, westward into the territory they had opened to the fur trade."

In this part of the world -- that is, between Montreal and Fort William [Thunder Bay, Ontario] they used 40-foot Montreal canoes made of white or silver birch, with seams tightly sewn with spruce fibres called wapete, and waterproofed with many applications of spruce gum.
These were tough, strong, canoes, ideally suited for the rough river passages, and they carried four tons of freight and passengers.
About the first of May, when the Ottawa River was finally free of the ice that had drained out of the interior lakes, these big canoes started off from a position on the river bank, just upstream from the old Stone Shed -- a large warehouse built in 1803 by Alexander Gordon, a merchant who had served as a clerk for the HBC.
Interestingly enough, though Gordon had worked for the HBC, while at Lachine he was in what was mostly North West Company country!
But even after the HBC absorbed the NWC, Lachine continued to be part of the fur trade -- primarily because Governor George Simpson chose to make his home there.

From the beach at Lachine, the voyageurs travelled west, sixteen miles, to Ste. Anne's, where they stopped at a church, that was part of a convent, for their traditional blessing for their long journey west.
At this point they were still travelling the St. Lawrence River, but at the Lake of Two Mountains they headed for the mouth of the Ottawa River.
They generally timed their voyage to be able to make their first camp near the upper end of the Lake of Two Mountains, where they received their regale -- a keg of rum.
Then the voyageurs drank and partied and fought and sang far into the night while the gentlemen tried to get a little big of sleep.

On a brigade such as this, the voyageurs did all the work -- this was their journey.
They woke up the next morning a little hung-over, and paddled up the Ottawa until they reached twelve miles of rapids, in three sets -- called the Long Sault.
Generally they tracked their boats through the rapids of the Long Sault, along the north side of the river, though on quieter stretches of the river they could paddle their canoes half-loaded.
On this stretch of the river were three carrying places, which varied with the height of the water.
Today's Ottawa River, with its twelve dams and reservoirs, does not in any way resemble the rough, fast-flowing river that the voyageurs paddled up two hundred years ago.

By travelling up the Ottawa River and crossing the height of land by various streams the voyageurs cut some five hundred kilometers of travel of the route they would have travelled had they continued to follow the St. Lawrence River west.

At the place where Ottawa now stands they came up to the Chaudiere Falls, named so because it resembled a cauldron of boiling water.
Portaging was the only way around these boiling falls, and in springtime the portage began downstream from the falls.
From The Pathfinder: "... as the gentlemen kept an eye on the freight at the head and foot of the trail, the voyageurs carried 90-pound bundles, two at a time, at a dogtrot over the rough trail, so close to the riverbank they were sprayed with the windblown water. Finally they brought the canoes over the portage on their shoulders, and the gentlemen followed them over the trail."

Next came the Little Chaudiere Falls, and Barbara Huck et al says this about this place:
"Those tracing the route today will have no trouble finding this historic trail, for the city of Hull has created a park -- Parc des Portageurs -- complete with biking and hiking trails, to commemorate it.
"One section of the original trail, which lies just below Brebeuf Park, is particularly interesting.
"Here, a set of low stone steps -- built by the voyageurs according to canoe historian Eric Morse -- can clearly be seen mounting a bank from a submerged stone shelf at the water's edge."

From the head of the portage, the voyageurs paddled across the bay to begin tracking and poling up the Deschenes Rapids.
My other source says the Deschenes Rapids was passed by portage, on the north shore.
At Chats Falls, or the Sault des Chats Sauvage, the river spread out and flowed through a line of beautiful waterfalls a mile wide.
The voyageurs portaged past these falls on the second island from the north.
Chats Falls was named, not for the cats, but for the raccoons that were common here at one time.
They were called les chats sauvage.
They travelled this part of the river, and others, at the slow speed of four miles an hour!
When portaging, of course, their speed was reduced to half a mile an hour.
This was a long, slow journey when you compare it to modern-day travelling.

Above Chats Falls there was still fast water through the top end of Lac des Chats, called the Chenaux.
There were four sets of rapids here -- the Decharge du Derige, the Mountain Portage, the Decharge du Sable, and Portage du Fort; they probably passed on the Quebec side of the river, using poles.
At Portage du Fort, where the river cascaded down through many channels among big trees, the voyageurs landed and carried their loads along the portage path on the right hand side.

After they rejoined the river once again, they reached Calumet Island which was surrounded by rapids.
The island's name comes from the dense white limestone, soft enough to be whittled into pipes or calumets.
This was the longest portage of the Grand Portage, a little over a mile long.
they began their portage at a little cove, and followed an easy trail that ascended the hill through a forest of cedar trees, though the trail took the voyageurs past two steep ravines before rejoining the river.
Beyond was Lac Coulonge, and when Anderson travelled this river, Fort Coulonge stood on this lake.
In one of his later manuscripts he mentioned this fort, and so we know he was there.

Next came the Allumette Island and the rapids that surrounded it, and the channel taken by the voyageurs was the narrower channel on the main Ontario shore.
Travelling up these rapids was like pushing through a tunnel.
At the upper end of the peaceful Lac des Alumettes beyond, the voyageurs came up to the granite of the Precambrian shield which rose straight from the river.
The old name of the lake was Riviere Creuse [Deep River]; today the town of Deep River stands here.
From The Pathfinder: "When at last the cliffs opened up again, the voyageurs set up camp on a sandy point of land on the west shore. Across the river from their camp loomed a black-stained cliff, a special place for the Natives, who tied tobacco to the arrows they shot at the cliff face as an offering.
"It was a special place for the voyageurs, too. New voyageurs were baptized in the river off the sandy point, and gentlemen who crossed this height of land for the first time also took part in the ceremony. Almost certainly, Alexander Anderson received a splash of water in his face from a branch dipped in the river, along with a playful request that he never kiss a voyageur's wife without her permission. When the mock baptism was finished, the voyageurs celebrated by firing their guns in the air. The fur trade was a mixture of cultures, and while the mock baptism mimicked the religious practices of the Roman Catholic voyageurs, the firing of guns into the air was a Native tradition."

This is what Carolyn Podruchny has to say about this ceremony, from her book: Making the Voyageur World: Travelers and Traders in the North American Fur Trade:

"At several points of geographical significance along the transport routes in the pays d'en haut, novices who had never before passed that point were obliged to participate in a ceremony of mock baptism. the ceremony of baptism, representing the purification from original sin, is usually performed on infants and involves putting water on the individual's head through immersion or sprinkling. In the case of voyageurs in the fur trade, it represented primarily the initiation of neophytes into the occupation. As the first of Catholic sacraments it was recognized as the door to church membership and to spiritual life, but ironically the ritual baptism marked voyageurs' departure and increasing separation from the settled Christian world. At the same time, the ceremony marked voyageurs' entrance or initiation into the occupation, and it represented the continuing practice of Catholicism, albeit in modified form, in the interior..

"The point of baptism along the Grand, or Ottawa, river was the first place on the route out of Montreal where the bedrock or Precambrian shield could be seen. It was located about two hundred miles northwest of the modern city of Ottawa, where the Deep River, or the Riviere Creuse, entered the Ottawa River, at the upper end of Lac des Allumettes. Here canoe brigades passed through a narrow, deep, and swift part of the river, where towering cliffs of granite provided a significant visual marker for the entrance into a new land. Immediately after this difficult passage, brigades stopped at a sand point, where canoes could be easily grounded and the crew could pause for a rest. Known as "point au bapteme," it was the oldest and most well established site of ritual baptism along fur trade routes. As early as 1686, the Chevalier de Troyes mentioned the practice as an established custom: "Our French have the custom of baptizing at this place those who have not passed before." The "Pointe aux Baptemes" is today marked on maps."

To continue the journey: their next portage upriver was at Des Joachims, where the Ottawa River did a big S-turn and there were two miles of thundering rapids.
They portaged there, making use of two bays and a little lake which cut down the carrying distance.

Beyond that point they abandoned the Ottawa River, and entered the Mattawa River which led them west.
The forty mile long Mattawa was rough and rocky and narrow, and it had a small rapid at its mouth where it flowed into the Ottawa, called the Mattawa Rapid.
It was generally run, not portaged.
Next came the Plain Camp Rapid (Flat Field) and eleven other portages or rapids.
At Rapide des Perches near Pimisi Lake, the voyageurs threw away their poles and took up their paddles.
This was the end of their upriver push.

Eric Morse, author of Fur Trade routes of Canada, says that the Mattawa River route might have gone through Robichaud Lake rather than following the Mattawa River above Talon Lake.
You who live in this part of the world might have a better notion of where it goes.

The voyageurs had to make their way over a height of land and into Lake Nipissing over a series of granite ridges and bogs.
First there was a 1500 yard long winding portage over a low height of land, after which they put their canoes into a beaver-dammed stream and followed it down, through a succession of ponds and over two portages, into Lake Nipissing.
The entire distance of this portage and shallow stream paddling was about seven miles.

Lake Nipissing was a shallow lake and so dangerous choppy in high winds, and the followed a course along its south shore among many protecting islands.
At the portage called Chaudiere des Francois they reached a flat rock in still water where the French River began.
The seventy mile long French River gave the voyageurs a rushing downriver day voyage to Lake Huron, and they entered the lake by the most protected westernmost channel, making a short portage around a curved rapid at the river mouth.
At this point they were in massive Lake Huron, where they had a choice of routes.
If it was windy, they stayed inside the sheltered line of islands that graced the top of Lake Huron, and travelled 200 miles west to Sault Ste. Marie.
If it wasn't windy, they might have paddled or sailed west across the lake, outside the curving line of islands.
The inside route sounds most interesting, and was probably the route they usually travelled.
Just west of the mouth of the French River they passed a point they called "Grondine," or "groaning," for the sound of the waves that moaned as they swelled over the rocks.
West of that they passed through a narrow channel, just wide enough for a canoe, where the rocks rang like a bell when struck by the waves in the lake.
This place, often mentioned in fur trade journals, was called "La Cloche."

At this point, the brigade was 430 miles from Lachine House.
From The Pathfinder: "On the Great Lakes, the voyageurs often travelled early in the morning and made camp when the dangerous afternoon winds blew. They followed Lake Huron's north shore to Sault Ste. Marie, where they paddled through a narrow canal built many years earlier by the men of the NWC. Their next major stop would be at Fort William, on the north shore of Lake Superior, a few hundred miles to the west."

On Lake Superior, the canoes kept close to shore -- for a good reason.
In June there are frequent heavy fogs on the lake, in July and August there is less fog but the heavy, sudden squalls make the lake unsafe for small, heavily loaded canoes.
To beat the wind, the voyageurs often travelled at night and rested during the day -- they would certainly be on the water by three every morning.
If the wind was blowing in a favorable direction, they might raise a sail and travel at 8 to 10 knots.
But they were often pinned down by high winds for several days at a time; in a normal month for one day out of every two!
And the lake is four hundred miles long.

But they were almost at Fort William, and so I will refer to the Fort William Journals to let you know what happened:
Journal of Fort William Establishment, Outfit 1831 -- Donald McIntosh, C.T., B.231/a/11, HBCA
May 1832 -- Tuesday 15th -- It continues still raining and blowing from north east from which quarter it has blown with little variation for this month past.
Thursday 17th -- We had several showers of rain in the afternoon. Wind southwest.
Saturday 19th -- Thermometer below the freezing point this morning. Weather cloudy and very cold for the season.
Monday 21st -- Blowing a furious gale from north west attended with heavy showers of rain in course of day.
Thursday 24th -- Hard frost last night. We had several showers of rain and hail in course of the day. Blowing a heavy gale from the eastward.
Friday 25th -- I cannot conceive what detains the Express canoe from Canada so long. It rained all the afternoon, wind north east.
Saturday 26th -- Two men arrived here from Lake Nipigon in a small canoe. They say that they walked across the lake on the ice, from which circumstance I am inclined to think that it is owing to the backward spring the express canoe is so late.
Tuesday 29th -- The men were variously employed. The express canoe from Montreal arrived about 6 o'clock P.M. Mr. C.T. Robert Cowie is the Gentleman in charge of the Packet. Blowing very fresh from the north.

Aha! Remember that Alexander Anderson is not travelling in the Express canoes, but in the slower brigade canoes.

Journal of Transactions and Occurrences at Fort William from 1st June 1832 to 1st June 1833, B.231/a/12, HBCA:
June 1832. Saturday 2nd -- It rained throughout the night and all the morning attended with a heavy gale from North East.
Sunday 3rd -- A light canoe arrived from Red River. We are much disappointed to find that the Governor was not on board of her. The backward spring prevented his coming hither. The ice in Lake Winipic [Winnipeg] he found too weak to walk on, and too strong to get through with a boat or canoe.
Tuesday 5th -- Weather clear.
Wednesday 6th -- Fine weather. The Montreal brigade arrived on board of which were Messrs. Lane, Anderson, and Perreyere, an Eclesiastic. Also Mr. C. T. Christie's family. Fine warm weather for the season.
Thursday 7th -- The Montreal Brigade went off this afternoon in five north canoes which they exchanged for the Montreal canoe. One canoe remained today waiting for the Dispatches.

You see that they have already departed Fort William and left their Montreal canoes behind them.
From The Pathfinder: "At this post, the brigade men clambered into five North canoes. Smaller and lighter than the vessels they had been travelling in to this point, these were the only canoes that could be use on the small rivers and difficult portages north of Lake Superior. Their next destination was Lake Winnipeg, hundreds of miles to the northwest, and their immediate route led them through Dog Lake and along many marshy rivers and lakes to wild and beautiful Rainy Lake...."
I will leave that part of the journey to the next post.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

George Traill Allan, HBCA

Some of you have noticed I have sneaked into my last post, an express journal written by George Traill Allan of the HBC.
This express journal, and another by him, is in the British Columbia Archives, under A/B/40/AL5.2A and A/B.40/AL5.3A.
I am delighted to have found them, and I will tell you why:
First, I found the journals a delightful read, and Allan a wonderful character who I would like to know more about.
I knew that he was in the Fort Vancouver area and was later connected to Thomas Lowe and Archibald McKinlay in the merchantile business they set up after they, too, retired from the fur trade.
But I did not consider Allan an important man, though I knew I eventually had to know a little about him.
But now I will look forward to writing about him when it comes time, because I read his journals.
I discovered his light-hearted, generous, and fun loving personality.
I laughed my way through his writings, and I hope you laughed your way through the piece of journal I have already posted.
But you will laugh even more when you read Bruce Watson's description of him, in Lives Lived West of the Divide:

Allan, George Traill, British: Scottish
Birth: Perthshire, Scotland, c. 1807
Death: Cathlamet, Washington, 1890
Passenger: Prince Rupert IV (ship), 1830; Clerk, Fort Vancouver general charges, 1831-1842 [he would have been at Fort Vancouver whenever Alexander Caulfield Anderson spent any time there, excluding the summer of 1841 when he travelled out in the York Factory express.]
On his return in the fall he was assigned to Honolulu, and was there until 1847. Afterward he was Chief Trader disposable in the Columbia Department, 1848-1850.

Bruce Watson continues: "It would seem natural that George Traill Allan, a slight, five foot tall, even delicate person of about one hundred pounds, seemingly not at all cut out for the rough and tumble fur trade, would start his career selling books and stationery in Glasgow.
"However, his brother, Dr. Allan, who had been Lord Selkirk's attending physician in North America, secured a position for him in 1830 in the HBC as a writer at York Factory.
"He was more needed at Fort Vancouver and so made his way overland to the Columbia River post.
"During his ten year stay at Fort Vancouver, he had a name exchange with a Cascade native and was nicknamed "Twahalashy," or coon."
And this is about the time we met him in his York Factory express journal, as he travelled out of the Columbia district.
He returned.
"Around 1841, he was appointed joint agent with George Pelly in the Hawaiian Islands post.
"In 1845 he was promoted to the rank of Chief Trader and during his stay on the islands he found the visiting American commodores much more arrogant than the English admirals.
"The bias may have worked against him for, in 1847, when he was replaced by Dugald McTavish, Simpson explained Allan's recall to him in a letter dated June 28, 1847."

Simpson's letter said, "I hope you may not be disappointed by your recall from the Island.
"The plain matter of fact is that we consider MacTavish a better man of business and accountant than you are, and politics and party spirit have been so high of late that, we think it as well a stranger, who can have no bias, should be associated with Pelly, instead of you and that Gentleman continuing longer together."
(Source: D.4/36, p. 59d)

"In October 1848, after going on furlough for one year, he gave notice to retire and settle in San Francisco.
"Using his acquired skills, he became a commission merchant in a partnership with Archibald McKinlay and Thomas Lowe and was in 1850 listed as a merchant living in the house of McKinlay, where he stayed until 1851, at which point he went to Scottsburgh at the mouth of the Umpqua River.
"Under the name Allan, McKinlay and Co., he carried on business until about 1861 when he settled in Cathlamet.
"He was still alive in 1888."

At the bottom of the description Bruce Watson notes that George Traill Allan was a relative of James Allen Grahame of Fort Vancouver, who married Susanna Birnie, daughter of James and Charlot Birnie.
So somehow, even if we don't know how, George Traill Allan is in our family tree -- and I am delighted to welcome him to the Birnie tree.

But now that you know how small and delicate George Traill Allan is, picture him crossing the Athabasca Pass with Dr. Tolmie!
No wonder the two men laughed their way across the mountains!

I have more information for you: His journal did begin at Fort Vancouver, and though it proceeds quite rapidly through the first part of his cross country travels, it is still an interesting read.
I will include it here, and some of you will especially be amused by the information it contains.
In this post we will go only as far as the Boat Encampment:

Journal of A Voyage from Fort Vancouver Columbia to York Factory, Hudson's Bay, 1841, by Geo. T. Allen:
I left Fort Vancouver on the 22d of March 1841, by the Express, accompanied by the following gentlemen -- Messrs. [Francis] Ermatinger, [Archibald] McKinlay, [Francois?] Payette, and Dr. [William F.] Tolmie -- in four boats -- and twenty eight men chiefly Canadians; all the gentlemen of the Establishment, as usual upon such occasions, accompanying us to the River to see us start.
Mr. Ermatinger, being the oldest Clerk of the party in the Company's Service, the command of conducting the party, so far as he went, of course, devolved upon him.
After a voyage of nine days, during which nothing worth recording took place, we reached Fort Walla Walla [Endnote #1], situated in the midst of a sandy plain upon the Banks of the Columbia & in charge of my friend, Mr. Ch. Trader [Pierre Chrysologue] Pambrun, who received us most kindly, and presented us to dinner a couple of fine roast Turkies -- a rather unexpected sight in this quarter of the world.
April 1st. Having arranged everything for my trip on horseback from Walla Walla to Fort Colvile, I started today at noon accompanied by a man, a boy and an Indian, as Guide, with a band of forty six Horses, the Boats having gone off the day before with the other gentlemen; my object in going across land being to get a-head of the Boats & so gain time to close all the accounts at Fort Colvile [#2] (the last past on this side of the Rocky Mountains) before their arrival.
As the country through which I now passed was all much of the same description, I may here mention, that its general appearance was not particularly pleasing, consisting principally of hills without a stick of wood to adorn their summits or relieve the eye from the sameness of the landscape which now presented itself to an immense extent, the surface of the ground over which we rode at no tardy pace was so covered with badger holes that it required the utmost caution to guide our riding horses clear of them; as for the light horses, we allowed them to look out for themselves.
After a ride of four days we reached Fort Spokane, an old establishment, abandoned some years ago, situated upon the banks of the River of that name in a beautiful spot.
On crossing the River, which we did by the assistance of the two Indians in a small Canoe, I was very much surprised, when gaining the opposite bank, to hear my name distinctly pronounced by one of a band of Indians assembled there to greet our arrival; but on looking in the direction from whence the voice came I immediately recognized my old friend, a young Indian Chief called Garry, who had entered the Columbia with me ten years before.
He had been educated at Red River at the expense of the Company and when I had known him was well clothed and could both read and write; now, however, the march of improvement had apparently retrograded, as he made his appearance wrapped up in a Buffalo Robe a la Savage.
Having presented some Tobacco to the Indians I requested Garry to send for one of our horses which I had been obliged to abandon that morning, he being too much fatigued to come one, and to forward him to Colvile, all which he promised to do, and I have no doubt has already performed.[#3]
The evening before our arrival at Spokane we encountered a very severe snow storm, but we were fortunate enough, that very evening to find abundance of wood, an article of which we had hitherto only procured a sufficiency to boil the tea kettle.
We were therefore enabled to make a very large fire and managed with the aid of my bed oil-cloth to erect a kind of shelter from the pelting of the pitiless storm during the night.
On the night of 7th April we reached Fort Colvile about 10 o'clock to my great pleasure, where I was received with the utmost kindness by my old acquaintance, Mr. Chief Trader Arch[ibald] McDonald & his amiable wife.
Being very desirous, if possible, to reach Fort Colvile to day (the 7th) I had ridden very hard -- so much so, that another of our horses gave in, within a few miles of the Fort.
I had, however, no alternative but to ride hard or go supperless to bed as our provisions were entirely out.
This I do not regret, because it gave me an opportunity of proving the correctness of two old adages, viz. put a hungry man on horse back and he'll ride to the Deil [Devil?]; & keep a thing seven years & you will find a use for it.
To understand however the allusion to the latter of these wise sayings, it will be necessary here to state, that on leaving Fort Vancouver, Mr. Ermatinger, a veritable John Bull and our caterer for the grub department of the voyage, had prevailed upon Captain Brotchie, whose vessel was then laying at Vancouver, to get made for us, a couple of large plum puddings, & the same puddings upon being tried on the voyage from Vancouver to Walla Walla, had been found wanting, not in quantity but in quality, and until our arrival at the last mentioned post had layen neglected and almost forgotten.
While seeing me equipped for the trip on horseback from Walla Walla to Fort Colvile, Mr. Ermatinger had slipped in amongst my eatables a piece of those identical puddings; being this morning therefore pressed by hunger, I had, I presume, dived deeper than usual into the recesses of my haversack and finding poor Brotchie, I made, sans ceremonie & cannibal-like, a most hearty Breakfast upon his remains.
As already mentioned, we reached Colvile on the night of the 7th April about 10 o'clock; for two hours previously we had ridden in the dark, through woods, across River, & over hill & dale, so anxious was I to reach my destination -- not, I beg it to be understood, from the paltry motive of procuring a supper, but from the desire of gaining upon the trip of last year.

On the 23rd of April, having received the last despatches from Fort Vancouver & having finished the accounts, I started, accompanied by Dr. Tolmie with two Boats and fourteen men; the other gentlemen having dispersed during the route to their different departments.
Fort Colvile is a very neat and compact little establishment and nothing I have yet seen in the Indian Country can equal the beauty of its situation -- placed on a rising ground in the midst of a very pretty plain encircled by an extensive & well cultivated farm -- the fields & fences laid out with a neatness which does credit to the taste of their projector -- here and there a band of Cattle to enliven the prospect and at a considerable distance surrounded on all sides by high mountains covered from the base to the summit with beautiful pines.
Nor does the inside of the establishment yield in any respect to the exterior, for when seated at table with Mr. and Mrs. McDonald & their family, one cannot help thinking himself once more at home enjoying a tete-a-tete in some domestic circle.

After a voyage of ten days up the most rapid & almost most dangerous part of the Columbia River, the country very rugged and rocky, we arrived on Tuesday the 4th of May at the Boat Encampment, which is the highest point that a Boat or Canoe can navigate the Columbia....

Endnotes to above:
[1] 200 miles from Fort Vancouver. River here 3/4 of a mile wide
[2] About 700 miles from the Pacific by the travelled route
[3] N.B. Upon my return from Hudson's Bay I found Garry had returned the Horse. G.T.A.

To continue George Traill Allan's story:
In a document held by Oregon Historical Society Archives, written by a descendant of James Birnie, we have a little more information about George Traill Allan.
The author of the piece copied out a letter Allan wrote in April 1885, telling a descendant a little about James and Charlot Birnie; its a nice letter but has no information new to us Birnie descendants.
But a few pages later, the author of the document tells us more about George Allan:
"Mr. Allen [sic], an employee of the Hudson's Bay Company had become super annuated and was cared for by James Birnie, and his wife after James Birnie's death.
"After the decease of Mrs. Birnie, Mr. Allen was cared for by Alec. D. Birnie in a cottage built on the latter's property and still standing (1922) until Mr. Allen's death."
And so it appears that the entire Birnie family valued George Traill Allan, and were fond enough of him that he was treated as if he was almost a family member -- even if he did not marry one of the Birnie girls.
His good humour and kindness kept Allan in safe hands until his death.
It sounds as if he remained single his entire life.
But what can a five-foot tall, one hundred pound, delicate dynamo like George Traill Allan do to attract a wife?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

James Birnie, Laird of Cathlamet

I think now that I have mentioned my great-great-grandfather, James Birnie, in a recent posting (he planted the first potatoes at Fort Colvile and was in charge of nearby Spokane House), I can now publish his full story -- the result of many years of research and numerous accidental discoveries.
The best discoveries are, of course, always accidental...

If anyone who stumbles on this posting is a descendant of James and Charlot Birnie -- there are many of us scattered around -- by all means, please get in touch with me and I will give you access to the large family tree on

James and Charlot Birnie, Laird and Lady of Cathlamet

The Hudson's Bay Company took over the Columbia district from the North West Company in 1821, and for the next two decades the British traders and their Chinookian neighbours remained relatively undisturbed by the Americans, who by agreement between the British and American governments, jointly owned the territory the fur traders occupied.
The HBC men knew their business would eventually be threatened by American settlers, but it was not until the men of the United States Exploring Expedition returned home from Puget's Sound, that the settlers came in larger numbers.
By the mid-1840's Americans had settled the territory in sufficient numbers to negatively affect the fur traders' business, but one trader saw opportunity.
James Birnie, a Scottish born company clerk with 28 years of anticipation and disappointment in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company, retired to build a home at a place he called "Birnie's Retreat." The Retreat became Cathlamet, and the settlement's founder thrived and became relatively rich.
The self-satisfied James Birnie considered himself to be the Laird of Wehkaikhum and Charlot his lady, but they were unlikely royalty.
Neither James nor Charlot had begun their lives at the top of the social heap -- anything but, in fact.

Born in Scotland in late 1796 James Birnie was baptized in St. Nicholas' parish, City of Aberdeen, on December 18 [Endnote #1 below].
The baptismal certificate recorded that James' father was a tanner named Robert, and Robert's birth record stated he was born in the City of Aberdeen in 1765 [#2].
Robert's father, James, was a shoemaker when he married Isabel Moir in Old Machar, Aberdeen City, on February 9, 1763[#3].
Cathlamet's founding father was descended from three or more generations of labourers who worked with leather and hides in the old part of Aberdeen City.

The younger James Birnie chose no such career as shoemaker or tanner, but joined the fur trade of the North West Company.
It is possible that, at that time, the NWC was hiring men familiar with tanning and leather, and that Birnie's future job in the NWC might have been to tan and stretch the beaver pelts trappers brought into camp.
Whatever his fur trade job may have been, James Birnie would have been optimistic about his chances of success: one line of the song he and his shipmates supposedly sang on board the ship included the line, "There's wealth in honest labour."
Local historians say Birnie wrote down and kept the words of the song:
"Cheer, boys, cheer! No more of idle sorrow
Courage, true hearts, shall bear us on our way
Hope points before, and shows us the bright tomorrow
Let us forget the darkness of today!" [#4]

There is no record of the date Birnie arrived at the NWC headquarters in Lachine, but it was probably in summer or fall, 1816.
Family stories say he stayed in Lachine for two years, learning the French language of the fur trade from a priest.
It is likely he left Lachine in spring 1818 with the outgoing canoes for the interior, and entered the Columbia district at Boat Encampment in early November of the same year. [#5]
Birnie may have travelled all the way downriver to the company's headquarters at the mouth of the Columbia River, but it is more likely he left the canoes at Donald McKenzie's newly constructed Fort Nez Perces, on the Walla Walla River.

The primary purpose of McKenzie's Fort Nez Perces was to serve as headquarters for his trapping expeditions into the Snake River basin.
On the banks of the Boise River McKenzie's trappers found beaver, and a month later they hunted the fur-rich territory between the Snake and Green Rivers.
James Birnie arrived at Fort Nez Perces too late to join the first party of trappers, but by the time clerk William Kittson reached McKenzie's Boise River camp in May 1819, he found Birnie already there. [#6]

In spring 1820, Birnie accompanied the men who delivered the beaver pelts to the company's headquarters at Fort George [Astoria].
With Birnie travelled the then fourteen-year old daughter of an ex-North West Company employee named Beaulieu.
At Fort George, the gentleman in charge (likely James Keith) married Birnie to Charlot Beaulieu. [#7]

Charlot Birnie's gravestone in Cathlamet's Pioneer Cemetery indicates she was born in Red River in 1805.
Her children recorded her mother was Cree, and her father a French Canadian free-trader named "Bolio," [Beaulieu] who trapped in the North West Company's Kootenae district for many years.
Historian T. C. Elliott suggested that this Beaulieu might have been David Thompson's engage who remained in the district when Thompson returned to Montreal in 1812. [#8]
No primary sources identify David Thompson's Beaulieu as Charlot's father, but a number of secondary sources strongly suggest the possibility.

Firstly, a genealogy written by a Birnie descendant states that "the only sister of Charlotte Beaulieu married a [Joseph] Rondeau and lived at or near St. Paul, Minn., supposed to be very well to do." [#9] No records exist for the sister Josephine's birth, but census indicate she was born around 1808-1810, and her son's death certificate records she was born in Montana. [#10]
Montana was not a state until 1889, but David Thompson's Beaulieu traded for furs in the area around Saleesh House, now known to be near present day Thompson Falls, Montana.

Another secondary record states the belief, or knowledge, that Charlot's father was Thompson's engage. Along with Joseph and Josephine Rondeau's descendants, other residents in St. Paul, Minnesota, included descendants of Basile and Paul Hudon dit Beaulieu, two French Canadian brothers who worked in the North West Company's fur trade south of the Great Lakes.
Clement Hudon dit Beaulieu (1811-1893), son of Bazile, noted that the Beaulieu who accompanied Thompson in 1807-11 was a man named Henri, a member of the Hudon dit Beaulieu family.
It is important to know that Clement did not know his close relative, the Henri Beaulieu who entered the fur trade; Clement received correspondence, perhaps, that stated Henri worked in the NWCo's fur trade, and he did not know where Henri was employed, other than somewhere along the Saskatchewan River.
There was at least one Henri Beaulieu in the fur trade records of that time, and it is impossible to prove that Henri Hudon dit Beaulieu was the Beaulieu who accompanied Thompson [and I think he did not] -- but a handwritten note in the same file strengthens the argument that Josephine (Beaulieu) Rondeau, of St. Paul, understood she was a descendant of David Thompson's Beaulieu:
"The Christian name of Saskatchewan Beaulieu was Henry H -- The Rondeaus of St. Paul are his descendants on the maternal side." [#11]
Clement Hudon dit Beaulieu could only have received that last piece of information from Josephine Rondeau.

Between 1810 and 1820, the North West Company men west of the Rocky Mountains had little competition from the Hudson's Bay Company, but it was a different story for the fur traders on the prairies, and in the Athabasca district to the north.
For ten or more years a fierce competition for furs raged among the competing traders of the NWC and HBC, who had its headquarters at York Factory, on Hudson's Bay.
Because of its long supply lines between Montreal and Red River, the NWC eventaully lost the competition and, in 1821, the two companies merged under the name of the Hudson's Bay Company.
At this time, Chief Factor John Haldane shared with J. D. Cameron the command of the Columbia Department, with Haldane posted at Spokane House and the other man at Fort George.
After 1821, the Governor of the new company, George Simpson, made severe cuts in the numbers of men employed in the forts west of the mountains, and Haldane gave his opinion that, of the men who worked in his district, five clerks and two apprentice-clerks might be re-engaged when their contracts expired, and the rest released from the Company's service.
Apprentice-clerk James Birnie was one of the men who Haldane chose to re-hire at 75 pounds a year. [#12]

In April 1822, clerk Finan McDonald recorded in the Spokane House journals that Birnie had left for Fort George with seventy-five packs of furs. [#13]
On July 16, Birnie returned to Spokane House, and on July 23 he took over the Spokane House post journals.
Now twenty-six years old, James Birnie expected that the HBC's fur trade would provide him with a rewarding career, with promotion to chief trader in time.
Each HBC clerk anticipated being made chief trader -- a position that not only offered a marked increase in wages but included a share in the company's profits.

James Birnie's Spokane House journal entries noted that the men constructed new buildings and maintained a fish trip, or barriere, that sometimes provided them with fresh fish.
The express men passed up the Columbia River near the fort, and horse brigades arrived from the Snake River district.
Birnie's spelling is sometimes creative, but his notes are well written and give a good deal of information on the life of a fur trader -- for example:
"The men in the woods have cut & squared on two sides 175 pieces of 11 feet long & 80 pieces 13 feet long. The sawyers have cut 60 pieces which makes 120 palisades. The two men employed cutting hay. Dephance was sent out to assist them in drying it. Today a party of young Spokans left this for to join a war party at Okanagan. Before leaving this, they went round the fort thrice for to show that they included us among their friends. They were all equipt in warlike array & now and then giving the war whoop." [#14]

On August 15, 1822, Charlot Birnie gave birth to their first child, Betsy.
Birnie's Spokane House journal ends eight months later, though there is no indication he is leaving the fort.
However, the Birnie family was at Fort George in February 1824, when Charlot gave birth to their second child, Robert. [#15]
Birnie was employed at Fort Okanagan when, on November 1, 1824, George Simpson, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, and Chief Factor John McLoughlin arrived at the post. [#16]
McLoughlin had crossed the Rocky Mountains to take charge of the Columbia district, and Simpson travelled with him to assess what was happening in this district so new to the HBC.
Simpson noted the expensive imported provisions the ex-NWC men had become used to, and ordered that the forts west of the mountains grow more of their own food.
There was good farming land one hundred miles inland from Fort George, and Simpson decided that the new HBC headquarters should be built at that spot, and Fort George abandoned.
As other posts in the interior would also be required to grow more of their own food, Simpson instructed that the inconveniently placed Spokane House be replaced with a new post built near the Ilthkoyape (Kettle) Falls, where there was more good farmland.
McLoughlin placed Birnie in charge of Spokane House in summer 1825, and Birnie planted the first crop of potatoes on the plains that surrounded the place where John Work was to begin construction of Fort Colvile later that summer.

In August 1825, McLoughlin moved Birnie back to Fort Okanogan, and in the spring of 1826, Birnie crossed the Rocky Mountains with the outgoing express to Edmonton House, where they joined the Saskatchewan brigade that carried the year's furs to York Factory.
By July. Birnie was at the HBC headquarters on Hudson's Bay.
A literate young man, named Lieutenant Aemelius Simpson, travelled west with the Saskatchewan boats on his way to Fort Vancouver. [#17]
Simpson reported that the Saskatchewan brigade crossed the top of Lake Winnipeg to the mouth of the Saskatchewan River on August 1st, 1826.
Twenty days later the boats arrived at Carlton House.
At the end of August, James Birnie and others took to horseback across the plains, expecting to reached Edmonton House in four days time, while the slower brigade boats arrived on September 9.
Three days after the boats' arrival the usual party was thrown for the expressmen at Edmonton House. On September 13 the men of the Columbia express started their journey over the horse portage with eighty loaded horses, and a day later James Birnie rode away from Edmonton House with the remaining gentlemen.
On September 18, Simpson's party reached Fort Assiniboine, but Birnie's party was delayed by rain and mud for five additional days.
Two days after the latter party's arrival, the Columbia express headed upriver in boats toward the Rocky Mountains, and on October 6 reached Jasper's House.
The express-men crossed the mountains on foot to Boat Encampment; on October 21 they arrived at newly constructed Fort Colvile.
Further downriver they traded with Nez Perces Natives for horses, and Birnie left the express boats behind to help drive the horses overland to the newly constructed headquarters of Fort Vancouver.

Fort Vancouver had just been built on the north shore of the Columbia River opposite the mouth of the Willamette, and was completed in April 1825.
In the 1825 Minutes of Council Birnie was assigned to the Thompson's River [Kamloops] post, but remained at Fort Vancouver to help finish construction. [#18]
In the same Minutes of Council, Birnie's name appeared on the list of clerks permitted to retire the following spring.
Whether or not Birnie knew his name was on that list of men is not known, but he apparently remained optimistic he would receive a promotion.
He signed a new contract with the company, and in November 1826 McLoughlin sent him with dispatches for Chief Trader A. R. McLeod, leader of the first trapping expedition south to the Umpqua River.
In mid-December, McLeod returned to the old Umpqua establishment to find Birnie waiting for him, and on December 20, Birnie and two men set off on their return journey to Fort Vancouver, riding their horses northward through heavy west-coast rain. [#19]
On his return journey to Fort Vancouver, Birnie met the naturalist David Douglas and they shared a meal. [#20]

In October 1827, Birnie was sent to Fort Nez Perces to assist and strengthen the express party as they travelled down the Columbia River to headquarters. [#21]
One of the two Upper Chinookian tribes who lived at the Dalles -- the Wascos or the Wishram -- had been more hostile than usual, and McLoughlin worried for the safety of the express.
There appears, however, to have been no trouble between the fur traders and the Natives, and the express reached Fort Vancouver in safety.

In July 1828, Birnie's contract with the Company again expired, but Birnie was rehired at a wage of 75 pounds.
By this time, he was thirty years old and had enough experience in the HBC's fur trade to anticipate a promotion.
In September 1829, John Warren Dease met Birnie at Fort Vancouver. [#22]
By October 4 Birnie was building a new post at the Dalles of the Columbia River, with the goal of preventing the Natives' furs from falling into the hands of an American competitor.
As the best trading place at the Dalles was amongst the Wishram Natives, who tended to be more hostile to traders than the neighboring tribes, the nervous American trader set up his camp close to Birnie's post for protection.
Because of the presence of the competing HBC post, the American was forced to pay high prices for his furs, which his employers disapproved of.
By April 1830, it appeared the American planned to quit the post and join the HBC. [#23]
Probably Birnie closed down his Dalles post at about same time the American left; he was at Fort George in summer 1830 when he was kept busy doctoring the men sick from an illness the fur traders called "intermittent fever."
The unidentified fever hit the district hard that year, and dozens of men fell ill.
It was probably a form of malaria, which appears to have come in on the American ship Owyhee.

On March 14, 1833, Birnie boarded the ship, Dryad, with the other gentlemen heading north to Fort Simpson, on the Northwest coast close to Russian-owned territories (now Alaska). [#24]
At the mouth of the Columbia, heavy breakers falling across the bar stopped the Dryad -- not an uncommon occurrence as ships were often delayed for weeks by weather.
In this case, the ship was delayed a month before the winds and seas calmed enough so that she could sail across the sandbars that almost completely blocked the river's mouth.
On April 24, 1833, Birnie reached his new posting at Fort Simpson, far up the wide estuary of the Nass River.
This tree-bound fort was located on a rocky point deep in the forest, in a dreary location where the fierce north winds whistled around the fort walls for nine months of every year.
No post journals survive for the time Birnie spent at Fort Simpson, but his next adventure began the following summer, when Peter Skene Ogden sailed north to build a fort on the Stikine River.

To get to where Ogden wanted to construct his new post, the HBC men must sail up the Stikine River through the ten-mile wide strip of land the Russian fur traders occupied.
On May 15, 1834, James Birnie brought his entire family on board the Dryad for the journey north from Fort Simpson. [#25]
When the HBC men arrived at the mouth of the Stikine River, they were astonished to find that the Russians had recently established a post on the point of land at the river's mouth.
The Russians did not want their lucrative trade with the interior Natives interrupted by an HBC post up the Stikine, nor did the Tlingit people appreciate have their position as middlemen to the Russians interfered with.
The Russians blustered and threatened; the Tlingit intimidated.
The alarmed HBC men remained as long as they could to argue for access, but after a month at anchor off the Russian post, Ogden finally abandoned his scheme. [#26]

By mid-June the Dryad was back at the Nass River where Ogden had decided to build a new Fort Simpson in a warmer and more convenient location than the old.
On July 15, Birnie and the other fort builders offloaded their supplies at the location of the new fort in the estuary of the river, while Ogden sailed eastward to begin tearing down old Fort Simpson.
By September 6 the palisades of the new fort were complete and the gates locked for the first time.
On September 13 the men erected one of the two houses removed from old Fort Simpson, and on September 30 Birnie moved his family into their new house.
Already the Natives camped outside the fort walls and traded for goods in the Indian store.
On October 17, the flag was raised for the first time inside the post, and the Dryad sailed away from new Fort Simpson. [#27]

There is, again, little information on Birnie's two years on the northwest coast.
Charlot gave birth to a son in November 1834, and a few months later John Work arrived at the fort to find Birnie suffering from a liver complaint. [#28]
By the end of February, Birnie recovered enough to return to work.
At last, on February 26, 1836, James Birnie and his young family embarked on the Cadboro and sailed with a fine, fair wind away from Fort Simpson. [#29]

The so-called "liver complaint" that Birnie suffered from at Fort Simpson could have been caused by abuse of alcohol -- not unusual in these northwest coast forts where a substantial part of the supplies was good quality wines and cognacs.
But alcohol consumption was not the only possible cause of the illness the fur traders labeled liver disease.
Presuming that jaundice was the symptom from which Birnie suffered, there were many other illness that might cause jaundice -- and food poisoning was one.
Jaundice was also a side effect of the intermittent fever or malaria, an illness that might travel up and down the coast with the sailing ships.
Another condition that might cause liver disease (without jaundice) in a man who carried excess weight, as James Birnie did, was the fur-traders' diet of fatty meats and sugary potatoes that the liver turned into fat.
However, though no contemporary fur trader ever complained of Birnie being a drunk, Birnie was certainly not an abstainer and there were a few occasions when he was described as "clumsy," or acted as if he was under the influence of strong drink.

On his return to Fort Vancouver, Birnie was reassigned to Fort George [Astoria] and remained there for many years.
In the summer of 1837, Birnie's 15-year old daughter, Betsy, prepared to travel north with Peter Skene Ogden's New Caledonia brigade to be married.
Her husband-to-be, Alexander Caulfield Anderson, was a young Scottish clerk who had accompanied the Birnie family north to Fort Simpson in 1833, and who was also aboard the Dryad when it was delayed by the Russians in 1834.
Anderson was now clerk-in-charge of Fraser's Lake, hundreds of miles to the north; Betsy must travel north with Peter Skene Ogden's brigade to meet her husband-to-be.

At Fort Vancouver, Ogden asked the new missionary, Reverend Herbert Beaver, to baptize Betsy Birnie before her journey north to be married.
But the disapproving missionary refused to approve the marriage and argued that any marriage not performed by him would be illegal.
Beaver also expressed shock that Betsy was marrying a man she had not seen in four years, and declared she was not "acquainted with the principle of religion." [#30]
This last accusation was as true for Betsy as it was for everyone who grew up in a fur trade fort, and Ogden mildly stated he would have Betsy baptized by the missionaries at Fort Nez Perces and that he, a justice of the peace, would perform the marriage.

The enraged Beaver refused to end the argument.
He had brought his old-country values with him to this new world, and he argued with everyone at the fort.
After a final fierce argument with Chief Factor McLoughlin, Beaver stormed away from Fort Vancouver and returned to England.
His ship stopped briefly at Fort George, where Beaver confirmed James and Charlot Birnie's marriage. Charlot could not sign her own name; she wrote an X in the register, and Beaver noted her name beside it. [#31]

Birnie continued his work at Fort George, the recipient of many of John McLoughlin's terse letters.
The post commanded an excellent view of the mouth of the Columbia River and Birnie acted as McLoughlin's eyes.
He reported to McLoughlin any incident in the terrritory; he made purchases from ship captains and collected debts from those who were attempting to escape by ship.
Birnie shipped out salmon and salt and furs and potatoes, he delivered messages to the sea captains and traded for furs with the Natives, but not the free-traders.
In one terse letter, McLoughlin gave Birnie instructions on how to make caviar, and told him to "make as much as you can." [#32]

Finally James Birnie oversaw the salting and pickling of the hundreds of barrels of fine Columbia salmon processed at Fort George and exported to the Sandwich [Hawaiian] Islands and elsewhere.
It was unlikely that Birnie took an active part in the work; Birnie's son reported that "Father was a good trader, a great reader and an expert at accounts, but when it came to shooting or rowing or other work of that nature he let his employees take care of it." [#33]
Salting and preserving salmon was work that Charlot might have done, however.
The method of preserving salmon was an old HBC recipe, used everywhere in the northwest.
The women cut off the head of the fish and removed the backbone, and the "salter" placed the salmon in a large hogshead and covered them with coarse salt [and presumably, water].
After a few days the flesh firmed up and the women drained off the pickle and boiled it in a large kettle, skimming off the blood that rose to the surface.
The salmon themselves were packed in 42-gallon kegs, which were sealed and laid on their sides with the bunghole left open.
The boiled pickle was poured in until the keg was filled; when no more fish-oil rose to the surface of the pickle, the keg was sealed and stored. [#34]

Everyone at a fur trade post had work to do, and Charlot's work also included making dozens of pairs of moccasins from leather, and sewing the caps, mittens, and leggings worn by everyone in the fort and sold in Fort Vancouver's store.
Women hand-sewed their own dresses and their husband's clothes as well; they gathered and dried berries, snared small game such as rabbits and martens, and caught fish for the table and for salting. They weeded the company's gardens and planted and harvested the potatoes that grew outside the fort and scrubbed and washed down the fort every spring.

Men's work varied more than women's, and took them away from the fort more often.
In May 1840, Birnie acted as pilot for the ship Lausanne as it made its way upriver from Baker's Bay, just inside the mouth of the Columbia.
The Lausanne carried Methodist missionaries, including one who later returned to Fort George to set up his mission on the Clatsop Plains nearby.
Missionary John Frost met with a kind reception from the Birnie family; Birnie and Frost put up boards in the Birnie residence so the Frosts would have a private room, and Mrs. Frost began a school for the Birnie children.
Only two days after Frost's arrival, a man salting salmon near Pillar Rock, five or six miles from Fort George, was found murdered in his bed.
Birnie, concerned for the safety of the residents at isolated Fort George, sent across the river to the local Chinook chief for protection.
The Natives responded promptly, also travelling to Fort Vancouver to bring word to John McLoughlin. The murderer was soon captured and hung, and James Birnie was part of this rough justice. [#35]

In 1841 the United States Exploring Expedition visited the area.
When their ship Peacock was destroyed on the bar of the Columbia River, Birnie and the Clatsop missionaries rushed to the crew's rescue. [#36]
In thanks for the help given them, the appreciative crew presented Birnie with some of the fine silver cutlery carried aboard the little ship; the silver spoon now in the Wahkiakum Museum at Cathlamet is likely one of the pieces of silver from the Peacock. [#37]
A few years later, James Birnie attempted a rescue of another group of Catholic missionaries who somehow safely entered the river mouth in spite of ignoring Birnie's attempts to guide them into the safe channel, with bonfires, cannon-fire, and waving flags.
At Baker's Bay, Birnie boarded the ship and agreed with the Catholic missionaries that "God had saved them," he added "but in order that a second miracle might not be necessary he would... guide them through the banks that lay between them and the fort [Vancouver]. [#38]
He also told the missionaries that "Mrs. Birnie would be expecting all the passengers as soon as they landed." The Notre Dame sisters found "Mrs. Birnie and her seven fine-looking daughters waiting to receive them.
One in all, the girls were quite captivated by the Sisters, who in turn were delighted with the cordiality of this Protestant family."
The missionaries enjoyed two meals at the Birnie house, and commented on Birnie's "hospitable Canadian wife, whose French was very good."
But they were surprised by one custom; the Birnie women declined to drink wine, and the Sisters, unwilling to offend, also denied themselves their usual wine.

The missionaries would have described 40 year old Charlot Birnie as a pretty woman with bright eyes and dark, glossy hair, as another pioneer woman described her. [#39]
Like other women in the fur trade she would have worn a loose shapeless dress over common wool leggings and moccasins, with a blanket over her shoulders and her hair in a braid down her back. Unlike the other Native women in the territory, Charlot appeared "quite self contained, and she invited me through to room to a sheltered porch in which was a number of seats ... from which was a clear outlook over the bay of the Columbia." [40]

James Birnie was a big man; a broad-shouldered and deep-chested man who stood six feet tall. [41]
He spoke in a broad Scottish brogue and was called "Scotty" by his co-workers who, though of Scottish ancestry, were for the most part from Canada or the Eastern States.
In his position at Fort George, Birnie earned the respect of the Chinook Natives that surrounded him, who trusted him and gave him the name Keets-Keets-we-aw-Keet, or the Great Chief. [42]
Birnie was fair, but he could be tough too.
When dealing with the Natives, James Birnie's motto was "Never show the white feather to an Indian." [43]

Birnie's life at Fort George remained peaceful and quiet.
By this time, the old pre-Fort-Vancouver headquarters was grown over with brush except for a small patch of ground that produced fine white potatoes.
The Birnie home was a log house that stood one story tall, 60 feet long and 20 wide.
It had a stone chimney, two rooms and an entry room, and there may have been sleeping apartments under its roof.
Close by stood some log and plank buildings, and the largest of these outhouses was the salmon-house that stored the salt and the hundreds of barrels of salmon produced at this place.

Though John McLoughlin always appeared to appreciate his work, James Birnie was disappointed every year when the list of men who received their chief trader's commission was delivered to the fort.
Clerks often waited for their chief trader commission for years before it was awarded, and each year they did not attain it was a year of disappointment and, in some cases, humiliation.
In 1847, another HBC clerk described his disappointment when he did not received his expected promotion.
Although he had never had a complaint lodged against him, he had been superseded in his department by three junior officers -- men who in his opinion could never have run a fur trade fort.
He was so angry at the slight that he considered leaving the Company's service, and so humiliated he could hardly show his face in the fort. [#44]
Birnie must have felt these emotions many times over.
As early as 1835 Birnie had wondered why he was unsuccessful in obtaining a promotion.
His friend Peter Skene Ogden addressed the issue with Governor Simpson, in a letter dated March 30, 1835: "I have also my cause to be well pleased with Mr. Birnie's arrangements, and whom from his long services I beg leave to recommend as justly deserving of promotion." [#45]
By the early 1840's, Birnie had already put in more than twenty years of service, suffering anticipation and disappointment every summer.
Eventually he saw he had no chance of success in Governor Simpson's fur trade, and quietly made his decision to retire.
Birnie's actions even before he left the fur trade showed his determination to leave the Company.
In 1845, when Birnie purchased a quarter-share in a sawmill owned by Albert Wilson, one of the many Americans now flooding into Oregon Territory, Chief Factor James Douglas wrote: "Whenever a man comes to that way of thinking the sooner he goes the better, as lukewarm supporters are worse than open enemies. I do not however mean to cast reflections on Birnie's zeal, as I believe he took the plunge, in sheer despair of any thing being done for him in the service. I would advise you to treat him leniently..." [#46]

On March 7 1845, Birnie sadly penned his letter of resignation to Dr. McLoughlin.
"After waiting patiently for a long time and seeing a number of my juniors promoted over me," he wrote, "I am under the necessity of retiring from the service of the Hon. Hudson's Bay Company, Spring 1846, however painful this step may be to my feelings after 28 years servitude with a large family to provide for and with slender means before me. But I have no other alternative." [#47]

But long before James Birnie realized he was getting nowhere in the Company, his friends knew he would never make Chief Trader.
In 1843, Francis Ermatinger described Birnie in a letter to his brother, Edward -- "Birnie remains at Fort George, and has children enough for a colony. He looks as young as ever, and is as fat and lazy as a man ought to be, when he is thought no more of than he is by Sir George [Governor Simpson]." [#48]
Ermatinger recorded that Birnie believed he had offended the Governor by dropping a bedsheet in the water -- "He [Birnie] told me that Sir George sent two cotton sheets to be washed, and while taking them to the ship one fell overboard, but he intended to send another to London and hoped his offence would be forgiven -- poor fellow." [#49]
The last two words indicate that Ermatinger knew something that Birnie did not -- that in 1842, Governor Simpson had demanded John McLoughlin retire James Birnie with a pension of 60 pound per annum for seven years.
McLoughlin had refused to do so, saying privately that the Governor should do his dirty work himself, and informing the Governor that he had no good replacement for Birnie. [#50]

Birnie's misfortunes had begun years earlier, when the HBC Governor met him at Fort Okanagan in 1824.
Six years after that first meeting, Governor George Simpson wrote in his Character Book:
"No. 10. Birnie, James. A Scotchman about 35 years of age. 14 years in the Service. Useful in the Columbia as he can make himself understood among several of the Tribes and knows the country well; but not particularly active, nor has be much firmness: deficient in point of Education; a Loose talking fellow who seldom considers it necessary to confine himself to the truth. Has no pretension to look forward to advancement indeed is very well paid for his Services at 100 pound per annum." [#51]

The first impression Simpson would have obtained from Birnie was his speech -- the Scottish brogue that Birnie was so fond of.
Birnie's rough speech would only remind Simpson of his own humble beginnings as an illegitimate child in the north-eastern Scottish town of Dingwall.
Simpson was sixteen when he left Dingwall for London, but in years afterwards he did everything he could to conceal his humble roots.
Secondly, Simpson always held a poor education against a man, and Birnie's speech clearly indicated a lack of a good education.
Birnie's father and grandfather were tanners and shoemakers who could never have sent their child to university, nor would they have understood a reason for doing so.
Reading suited Birnie's lazy nature, but his reading was limited to Scottish writers such as Sir Walter Scott -- light reading in comparison to that enjoyed by his educated son-in-law, Alexander Caulfield Anderson.
Moreover, in the absence of school-teachers most fur traders schooled their own children, but Birnie's son, Robert, always mourned the fact that he was never a well-educated man. [#52]
That statement, alone supports the argument that James Birnie did not have an education to pass on to his children.

That James Birnie's wife was Native (half or quarter-breed) cannot have affected Birnie's career in Governor Simpson's eyes, as every man in the fur trade had a Native wife.
But Charlot might have affected Birnie's career by the simple birthing of children that Governor Simpson viewed as a drain on the provisions of his fur trade.
When Simpson visited Fort Okanagan in 1824, he seriously considered having the fur traders' many children turned off to the "Indian relatives." [#52]
In 1824 Birnie already had two infant children; by 1840 he had seven daughters and two sons.

When James Birnie finally retired from the Company in June 1846, he had a choice of properties to build on.
He had been offered property in the new settlement of Portland, now springing up across the river from Fort Vancouver, but refused it.
"Malaria, mosquitos and a swamp," Birnie scoffed. "I've chosen a place that will be my Retreat that's high enough on the river bluff to be out of all danger of flood. There's good water, pasture for cattle, space for an orchard. Keep Portland. I'll take the Retreat." [#53]
His new choice for a home was thirty miles east of Fort George on the north side of the Columbia River.
Here it was cooler in summer than Fort Vancouver, but warmer than the foggy summer coastline.

As early as 1844 and during the time he was still employed by the HBC, Birnie sent men to clear a piece of land and erect a little store on the river bank at Cathlamet.
On the curve of the hill above the store, Birnie built his house.
The finished residence was substantial, with window-sills 12 or 14 inches wide and windows that had 9 or 12 panes of glass per sash. [#54]
The lumber for these buildings came from Albert Wilson's sawmill on the south side of the river.

In the summer of 1846, Birnie and his family left Fort George in a small fleet of boats.
He brought with him a lock for his new store, a band of Spanish cattle which he had pasturing on the Plains at Clatsop, and sixteen Native employees he had rescued from the slave trade that flourished among the Natives from the Queen Charlotte Islands to California.
Birnie settled his family into the house on the top of the hill, and opened his store to business.
He had chosen well.
The American settlers who now flooded into the territory settled near Fort George and Portland, and American soldiers constructed their new camp outside Fort Vancouver.
Birnie's Retreat became a stopping place halfway between the new settlements of Upper and Lower Astoria, and Portland.
Dried salmon sold for $20 a barrel, butter was $1.00 a pound while lard was 60 cents. Fine shirts sold for $2.50, whiskey for $3.00 a gallon, and gin, $3.50.

It did not take long for Birnie to gather neighbours at the Retreat.
In 1850, the new circuit judge, William Strong, arrived in the territory and Birnie offered him a piece of property to the west of his house.
Thomas Lowe, clerk at Fort Vancouver, married a Birnie daughter and built his house to the east of Birnie's own residence.
Soon Birnie's on-in-law, Alexander Anderson, retired from the Hudson's Bay Company and, purchasing Lowe's house, brought his family to live in the village, now named Cathlamet.
The little town quickly grew, but the aging James Birnie unhappily grumbled about the many changes he saw happening around him.

At Cathlamet, Charlot became a confident, self-assured woman who welcomed visitors into her house and entertained them on a sheltered porch that offered a spectacular view up and down the Columbia River, and a bookcase filled with James Birnie's volumes of Scott's novels. [#55]
Charlot bore herself with "all the self-assurance of an English dame of long pedigree." [#56]
She owned an enormous canoe which was the wonder of the lower Columbia River, and every fall she loaded it with provisions and paddlers and set out from Cathlamet to pass over the portage to Shoalwater Bay, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, where they spent a few weeks hunting, fishing, and clamming. [#57]

James Birnie began to show signs of aging and possibly dementia when, in July 1852, his son-in-law, Thomas Lowe, wrote about the confusion that existed between Birnie and Judge Strong as to an exchange of land.
Birnie had returned the deed to Lowe unsigned.
In a letter to his business partners, Lowe warned, "In any transactions you have with Mr. Birnie endeavour to have everything put in black and white, and for God's Sake leave nothing to be understood, as I have always found that these understandings are looked upon by him as the principal part of the bargain, and generally prove a fruitful source of misunderstanding afterwards. Try to settle everything amicably, as any trifling dispute is sure to worry him." [#58]
Whether this confusion came from alcohol, illness, or the natural decline of aging is unknown -- in 1852 Birnie was still a few years away from his sixtieth birthday.
However, he has often been described as corpulent and, if so, may well have been suffering from a disease such as diabetes, or another illness we know nothing of.

In Lowe's correspondence it became obvious that both James Birnie and Charlot were becoming less able to live on their own.
In 1853, Thomas Lowe wrote that Charlotte, Birnie's daughter, was dying.
"Poor old people," he wrote of James and Charlot, "Theirs is a sad prospect." [#59]
The Birnie girl died in July 1853 and was buried in the cemetery at the top of the hill, and Lowe wrote to Anderson, "The old people are sincerely to be pitied, I assure you, I feel for them very deeply. I know you do all in your power to comfort them, but I also know how difficult it is to reason with Mrs. Birnie. Her grief is most poignant at times and in these paroxysms it is fruitless to endeavour to console her." [#60]
But James and Charlot had many losses to mourn.
By 1854, two daughters (including Lowe's wife La Rose) and one son were buried in the little churchyard at the top of the hill behind the house; and three Anderson children -- Birnie's grandchildren -- were also buried there.

Life went on, however, and Cathlamet continued to be the social centre of the district.
General Ulysses S. Grant was an occasional visitor from the military post outside Fort Vancouver, and he drank too much whiskey and borrowed blankets from the Birnie store to sleep of his drunks in the bushes on the river bank.
Another occasional visitor was Dr. John McLoughlin, now unhappily retired from the Company and living at Oregon City.
Steamboats chugged up and down the river and brought many visitors and new residents.
On some occasions, visitors found the Birnie house decorated from top to bottom with evergreens and tables loaded with food.
The Birnies hosted many fashionable parties, celebrations that were attended by everyone of importance in the district, and on these occasions Charlot confidently took her place at the head of the table.

When the artist James Madison Alden arrived on the coast on the ship Active in 1854, he visited the Birnie residence and described Birnie as a full-bearded man with a brood of small children who scurried timidly away. [#61]
Two of those children might have been the half-Native children of Captain James Scarborough, who James and Charlot Birnie raised after their father suddenly died.
Captain Scarborough worked for the Hudson's Bay Company for many years before retiring to Chinook Hill, west of Cathlamet.
Following his retirement, he exported salted fish to England, and it was rumoured that he was paid for the fish in gold ingots that were buried on his property. [#62]
On Scarborough's death, James Birnie became guardian of the Scarborough children while Birnie's son-in-law, Alexander Anderson, administered the estate.
Anderson gained control of Scarborough's funds and invested the money in one of Thomas Lowe's companies, which paid interest on the money for many years after. [#63]
Later Birnie was questioned about the money but, because his health and memory were fading, he could not explain where it had gone.
Anderson had by that time moved north to Fort Victoria, and because Birnie had no answers, it was suspected for many years afterwards that Anderson had absconded with the funds. [#64]

From early days at Cathlamet, Birnie had flown a handmade American flag above the store, which he dipped cheerily at every passing ship. [#65]
He was sixty-eight years old when he died in December of 1864.
It was Birnie's last wish that he be wrapped in that handmade flag on his death.
Auld James Birnie, Laird of Cathlamet, died at home and was buried in the little churchyard at the top of the hill, carefully wrapped in the homemade American flag.

Even though she was now without her husband of forty years, Charlot was surrounded by her children, and her house was comfortably furnished with furniture of a better quality than found elsewhere in the territory.
She died twelve years later, on July 7, 1878, and her surviving children buried her in the little cemetery at the top of the hill behind the house.
James and Charlot's shared gravestone is the tallest stone in the Pioneer Cemetery, befitting of their standing as the Laird and Lady of Cathlamet.

1. General Register Office for Scotland, Registration of Birth in Old Parochial Register, Parish of Aberdeen (Co. Aberdeen). Record 168/A000080 0562, December 18, 1796, at
2. Ibid, Record 168/A000080 0533, December 18, 1765
3. Ibid, Record 168/B000070 0222, February 9, 1763
4. Irene Martin, Beach of Heaven: A History of Wehkiakum County (Pullman, WA: Washington State UP, 1997), p.109
5. Affidavit for Donation Land Claim, Washington Territory, in David K. Hansen's private Collection of James Birnie's records. Birnie recorded he arrived in the territory on November 1, 1818
6. E.E.Rich, ed. Ogden's Snake Country Journals, 1824-26 [London: HBRS, 1950], Appendix A, "Journal of Occurrences in a trapping Expedition to and from the Snake Country in the years 1824 and (25) kept by William Kittson," p. 224
7. Affidavit for Donation Land Claim, WT
8. T.C. Elliott, "David Thompson's Journeys in the Spokane Country," Washington Historical Quarterly, Vol. VIII, 1917, p. 185
9. Ben Holladay Dorcy, OHS Manuscript 1092, Transcript, p.126, Oregon Historical Society Archives
10. State of Minnesota Certificate of Death #10858 lists Louis Rondeau's father as Joseph Rondeau, born in Canada, and his mother as Jeanette Beaulieu, born in 'Mont.' The official form asks for birthplace 'State' or 'Country;' if Josephine was born in Montreal her birthplace would have been listed as Canada, as her husband's was, on the same form.
11. Handwritten note [1920?], Clement H. Beaulieu and family papers, 1857-1932, Mss. #P60, Minnesota Historical Society Archives
12. Governor Simpson to Dugald Cameron, July 18, 1822, D.4/1, fo. 62, HBCA
13. Fort Spokane District Journal, 1822-23, B.208/a/1, fo. 1, HBCA
14. Ibid, August 8, 1822, fo. 16
15. Birnie Family Bible, Wehkiakum Historical Society Archives, Cathlamet, WA
16. Frederick Merk, Fur Trade and Empire -- George Simpson's Journal (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1968), p.49
17. Lieut. Aemelius Simpson, Journal from York to Fort Vancouver -- Journey of a voyage across the Continent of North America in 1826, B.223/a/3, HBCA
18. John McLeod Papers, Mss. 1715, fo. 9, BCA
19. Appendix C, "Journal of a Hunting Expedition to the southward of the Umpqua under command of A.R. McLeod, C.T., Sept. 1826," in Peter Skene Ogden's Snake Country Journal, 1826-7, ed. K. G. Davies (London: HBRS, 1961), p. 199-200
20.  I have this source amongst my papers somewhere, when I find it I will post it properly.
21. Journal of a voyage from York Factory to Fort Vancouver, Columbia River, 1827, Edward Ermatinger's York Factory Express Journal, being a record of Journeys made between Fort Vancouver and Hudson Bay in the years 1827-28, (Ottawa: Royal society of Canada, 1912), p. 112
22. "Memorandum Book of John Warren Dease," B.A. McKelvie Mss 001, Box 8, file 2, BCA
23. Dr. Burt Brown Parker, Letters of Dr. John McLoughlin written at Fort Vancouver, 1829-1832 (Portland: Binsford & Mort, 1948) p. 57, 62, 69, 103-4
24. The Ships Log of the Dryad (brig), 1833-34, c.1/281-2, fo. 86, HBCA
25. Ibid, fo. 187
26. Archie Binns, Peter Skene Ogden, Fur Trader (Portland: Binsford & Mort, 1967) p.251-61; Mitchell, H.T., ed., Tolmie: Physician and Fur Trader, the Journal of Dr. Tolmie (Vancouver: Mitchell Press, 1963), p. 281-6; and "P.S. Ogden's Report of Transactions at Stikine, 1834," in E.E. Rich, ed., Letters of John McLoughlin from Fort Vancouver to the Governor and Committee, First Series, 1825-38 (Toronto: Champlain Soc, 1941-4) Appendix A, p.317-8. Birnie's future son-in-law, Alexander Caulfield Anderson, was also there.
27. Fort Simpson (Nass) Post Journals, 1834-38, B.201/a/3, fo. 2-10, HBCA. Alexander Caulfield Anderson sailed away from Fort Simpson in the Dryad, as did Peter Skene Ogden.
28. "Journal of John Work, January to October 1835, Part 1," in British Columbia Historical Quarterly, vol. 8, April 1944, p. 137; and Fort Simpson (Nass) Post Journals, 1834-38, fo. 21-22
29. Fort Simpson (Nass) Post Journals, 1834-38, fo. 54a
30. Rev. Beaver to P.S. Ogden, June 17, 1837, B.223/b/19, fo. 4, HBCA
31. Beaver's original Fort Vancouver Church Register, Christ Church Cathedral Archives, Victoria, BC
32. J. McLoughlin to James Birnie, March 7, 1841, B.223/b/27, fo. 137, HBCA
33. Martin, Beach of Heaven, p. 26-27
34. Murray C. Morgan, Puget's Sound, a Narrative of Early Tacoma and the Southern Sound (Seattle: UofW Press, 1979) p. 50
35. Nellie B. Pipes, ed., "Journal of John H. Frost, 1840-43," Oregon Historical Quarterly, vol. 35, 1934, p. 57-61
36. Edmond S. Meany, "Last Survivor of the Oregon Mission of 1840," Washington Historical Quarterly, vol. II, October 1907, p.13-14
37. Fiddle Thread and Shell design, T. Fletcher, Philadelphia
38. Sister Mary Dominica, Willamette Interlude (Palo Alto, CA: Pacific Books, 1959) p. 129
39. Lulu B. Heron, "Cathlamet in the Early Days," in Wahkiakum County Eagle Newspaper, Special Edition, May 3, 1973
40. John Minto to Eva Emery Dye, October 31, 1903, Mss. 1089, Box 1, Oregon Historical Society Archives
41. Irene Martin, Beach of Heaven, p. 26
42. Heron, "Cathlamet in the Early Days"
43. James Robert Anderson, "Notes and Comments on Early Days and Events in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, Memoirs of James R. Anderson, p. 218," Mss 1912, Box 9, BCA. James Anderson was James Birnie's grandson, son of Alexander Caulfield Anderson.
44. James Anderson to A.C. Anderson, December 24, 1846, A/B/40/An32, BCA
45. P.S. Ogden to Governor Simpson, March 30, 1835, D.4/127, fo [gotta find it, sorry], HBCA
46. J. Douglas to Governor Simpson, April 4, 1845, D.5/14, fo. 391, HBCA
47. James Birnie to McLoughlin, March 7, 1835, B.223/c/1, fo. 231, HBCA
48. Lois Halliday, Fur Trade Letters of Francis Ermatinger, written to his brother Edward during his service with the Hudson's Bay Co., 1818-1853 (Glendale, CA: A.H.Clark, 1980) p. 256
49. Ibid, p. 256
50. Ibid, p. 255-56
51. G. Williams, "The Character Book of Governor George Simpson," in Hudson's Bay Miscellany, 1670-1870 (Winnipeg: Hudson's Bay Record Society, 1975) p. 202
52. "Personal Adventures of Robert Birnie, born at Astoria, Oregon, 1824, Feb. 7," Mss C-E65:33, Bancroft Library
53. Frederick Merk, Fur Trade and Empire -- George Simpson's Journal, p. 131
53. Julie Butler Hansen, "James Birnie refused lots in Portland to begin Cathlamet Settlement in 1846," Longview Daily News [newspaper], Centennial Edition, August 19, 1946
54. Heron, "Cathlamet in Early Days"
55. John Minto to Eva Emery Dye, October 31, 1903, Mss 1089, Box 1/15, OHSA
56. Thomas Nelson Strong, Cathlamet on the Columbia (Portland: Metropolitan Press, 1930) p. 99
57. Ibid, p. 99-100
58. Thomas Lowe to Messrs. Allan & McKinlay, July 30, 1852, Thomas Lowe, Letters outward May 14, 1852 to December 10, 1859, E/B/L95A, BCA
59. Thomas Lowe to David Lowe, April 9, 1853, Thomas Lowe, Letters outward
60. Thomas Lowe to A.C. Anderson, August 3, 1853, Thomas Lowe, Letters outward
61. Franz Stenzel, James Madison Alden: Yankee Artist of the Pacific Coast, 1854-1860 (Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum, 1975) p. 24
62. Ruby El Hult, Lost Mines and Treasures of the Pacific Northwest (Portland: Binsford and Mort, 1957)
63. Thomas Lowe to A.C. Anderson, December 10, 1859, Thomas Lowe, Letters Outward
64. "Statement in support of Bill for the Relief of the Heirs at Law of James Allan Scarborough and Ann Elizabeth Scarborough," in David K. Hansen's collection of James Birnie material.