Sunday, September 30, 2012

From Edmonton House to Carlton House

When Alexander Caulfield Anderson arrived at Edmonton House with the outgoing express, in 1842, he brought in some items to trade.
Now I am presuming that he brought the skins in on his outgoing journey, but delayed in picking up the items he traded them for until he returned to Edmonton House in the fall.
The transactions are found in the Edmonton Account Book, 1842-1843, B.60/d/71, HBCA, and this is what it says:
A.C. Anderson, Clerk
June 18, 1842 To 1 large D. Red deer skin, Credit, 4.6
[same date] 1 large Moose do., Credit, 6.
August 24, 1 4/4 Com. Cotton Handscf, Dr. .0.8
[same date] 2 1/2 ydrs. Girthing, Dr. 2.4
September 16, 2/3 [yards] white Strouds, Dr. 3.9
[same date] 2/3 white duffle, Dr. 1.8

Now, I had Duffle and Strouds in my book, and during the editing process they got cut!
They were items common to the fur trade; everyone wore them.
Do you know what they are?
They are fabrics -- heavy, warm, densely woven wool fabrics, very similar to each other.
The Duffle came from Holland or the Netherlands; the Stroud from Stroud, in England (hence the name).
If you still cannot picture the heavy woven fabric, then think "dufflecoat."
That is exactly the fabric we are speaking of!

We will continue with our downiver journey toward Norway House and York Factory.
There is a wonderful and unexpected surprise in this posting, and I hope you enjoy the story!
I will say no more.

York Factory Express Journal of 1827, by Edward Ermatinger:
Wednesday, 23rd [May]. Fine warm weather. 6 boats receive their cargoes in order to be off to morrow morning.
Thursday, 24th. Do [ditto]. Boats start this morning; afternoon Mr. Stuart and party arrive.
Friday, 25th. Do. 8 boats more receive their loading.
Saturday, 26th. Do. The boats leave Edmonton at 9 am. Passengers C[hief] F[actors] Stuart, & [John] Rowand, Messrs. [David] Douglas, [Finan] McDonald, Harriott, McDougal and E.E. [Ermatinger]. Manned Mr. Stuart's boat 5 men, Mr. R's 4 and the rest 3 each. Proceed till 8 pm. and encamp, distance 50 miles.
27th, Sunday. Strong head wind. Start at 1/2 past 3 am. Saw some Crees from whom a few Beaver &c are traded; detained afternoon 2 hours for one of the Boats unable to keep up. Mr. McDonald kills a red deer [elk]. Put ashore at 8 pm. to cook; afterwards lash the boats together and drive all night.
Monday 28th. Head wind begin to row at sunrise. Breakfast at the old Fort George [Endnote #1] In the evening put ashore at Vermillion Creek. People go off in chase of Red Deer kill a cabris. After stopping about 2 hours start again and proceed a short distance to an Island where we stop to supper. No signs of the other six boats; supposed we passed then in the night as they had orders not to proceed farther than Dog Rump Creek. Make a large fire for signal. Embark again to drift all night.
Tuesday 29th. Fine weather. Wind ahead. Continue rowing from daylight till sunset, at intervals, and then put ashore to supper after which go little below to sleep. See Red Deer several times 3 are killed.
Wednesday, 30th. Wind still ahead. Start at sunrise. Do not proceed far when we see 5 buffalo crossing the river, pursue them and kill two. People go hunting on both sides of the River. On each side they kill two bulls; fetching home the meat occupies the rest of the men till night. Push off and go to sleep at Island out of sight of our fires.
Thursday, 31st. Wind still easterly. Proceed down the River a few miles till we come up to two of our men who have been absent hunting since yesterday morning. They have each killed a Bull; 16 men set off immediately to bring home the meat. Men return with 1 1/2 animals, the rest having been consumed by wolves. Continue again a short distance and put ashore where animals appear to be numerous. People go off hunting, return afternoon having killed 11 bulls. All hands employed carrying the meat to the boats, 1 too lean, thrown away. Encamp.
June. Friday, 1st. Fine weather. Wind strong ahead. Early this morning some of the men employed bringing down the remainder of the animals killed yesterday. Also 5 more Bulls by Salois and afterwards we procured 2 cows and 2 bulls. Proceed down 2 or 3 miles and encamp.
Saturday, 2nd. Make an early start and proceed till near noon. See many herds of Buffalo. Hunters go off in pursuit. Mr. Harriott kills 2, Salois, one. Men fetch the meat. Continue our journey having been here 4 or 5 hours; in the evening more animals in sight. Mr. H. goes off and kills 2 bulls, a very serious accident attends the evening's hunting. Mr. H. having wounded two other Bulls goes off with a view of getting them, accompanied by Messrs. F. McDonald and E.E. On approaching them they made off. Mr. H. pursued and overtook one, followed by Mr. McD. The former fired but did not bring the Bull down. Mr. McD's rifle snapped and while he was endeavouring to distinguish his object in the dark of night to have another shot the animal rushed toward him with utmost impetuosity. Mr. McD as soon as he perceived him, which was not till he was very close, tried to escape by running across a small plain to shelter himself as it appeared to him in a hummock of woods, but before he reached it he became out of breath and threw himself down trusting to fate. The first blow the animal gave him he tossed him with great violence and gored the most fleshy part of the thigh nearly to the bone. Mr. McD after this seized him by the wool of the head and held him for some time, but the immense power of the animal obliged him to quit his hold, on doing this, he supposes, he dislocated his wrist. He remembers having received 6 blows, one of which was so dreadful that his whole side is bruised black and blue and some of his ribs appear to be broken. The last furious butt made him call out, and what is very strange the Bull at the same instant fell down as if a ball had struck him. In this state they both remained for above an hour while Mr. H. ran to the Boats at least 2 miles distant for assistance, Mr. E. remaining near the spot to point it out, for altho' these two gentlemen heard and saw as far as the darkness of the night permitted the whole of this distressing affair, they were unable to render immediate relief, lest in firing at the Bull they might kill the man. A large armed party being collected were devising means of extricating Mr. McD from his painful situation, when one of the men's guns went off in the air by accident. This caused the Bull to rise. He looked at the party attentively for a moment and then galloped off. Mr. McD whom they found perfectly sensible altho' he had fainted several times, as he himself says, also states that the Bull watched him the whole time they lay together and that he durst not stir. The animal, too, he says appeared to suffer much groaning and vomiting blood a great deal. The ground around bore evident marks of this deplorable catastrophe, being gored up in many places and covered with blood; a shot pouch which Mr. McD wore at his left side, made of thick sealskin, covered with porcupine quills and stuffed with rags, &c, for wadding was found to be pierced thro' and thro' and must have saved his life, altho' he was not aware when this happened. He was conveyed upon blankets fastened upon poles on the men's shoulders to the Boat and in order to reach Carlton as soon as possible, we drift down the river all night in hopes of finding Dr. Richardson (Sir John Richardson) at that place. His wounds were dressed as well as the means of the party permitted.
Sunday, 3rd. Overcast with light rain. Commence rowing at daylight and continue till breakfast. Afterwards hoist sail with a light breeze which freshens and carries us till we pass the Elbow. Our course North, wind ahead, row till 9 pm. Encamp.
Monday, 4th. Overcast and cold light rain. Continue at daylight, the 6 boats which left Edmonton on the 24th overtake us at breakfast. Arrive at Carlton afternoon. People set about making Pemican, &c.

[Endnote #1] Fort George was built by Angus Shaw in autumn 1792, and abandoned in 1801. It was one of several Saskatchewan posts to which the name of Fort des Prairies attached and was a place of importance.

Express Journal, Spring 1828, by Edward Ermatinger:
20th, [May]. Fine weather. About 9 am. all the Boats, say 16, leave Edmonton manned, 13 Boats each 3 men and 3 in 4 do. and laden with about 80 pieces per Boat. In course of the day see a party of Crees and trade a few furs, dressed leather &c., for ammunition, tobacco and Rum. Encamp at 9 o'clock.
21st. Warm weather. Start at 3 am. Afternoon see another party of Crees from [whom] trade furs, leather &c. Put ashore at 8 o'clock to cook and sup and afterwards lash the Boats together to drift all night.
22nd. Fine weather. Pass Dog Rump Creek about 6 am. Kill a deep -- put ashore to cook in the evening -- drift all night.
23rd. Warm weather. Boats ground many times during the day. See several deer. Put ashore at Bas fond dinoge about 5 pm. Hunters go off in search of Buffalo. After supper proceed 3 or 4 miles to an Island and encamp.
24th. Fine weather. Continue our voyage at daylight. Put ashore to breakfast at 1/2 past 8 am. and people go off hunting but fall in with no animals. Start again about 11 and are only able to proceed about 2 miles when the wind being too strong ahead we put ashore where some fresh tracks being observed another party was sent off hunting but return unsuccessful. Toward evening two young moose take the River just above our camp and are both killed by some of the half breeds. Wind having abated before sunset push off and make a short distance. Shortly after starting a large grizzly Bear was wounded by Mr. [John] Rowand and notwithstanding a large ball passed thro' his body and knocked him down, he escaped for some distance. A party pursued and were tracking him by his blood, when a rustling in the branches pointed out the spot where he had couched -- all the guns were cocked ready to pour a volley upon him, but before the party had time to look about them he sprang thro' the thicket with a dreadful crash, seized one of the men and with his teeth bit him in many parts of the body. He also bestowed a pat on the back of a second, tore his shirt and marked him besides making an attempt at a third. A dog which happened to pass at the time drew Bruin's attention toward him and prevented his doing more mischief to the people and gave also an opportunity of firing at him, which could not well be done while ha had a man in his possession for fear of shooting the wrong object. The dog got only one of his thighs bitten and the Bear was killed after having received at least 1/2 doz. Balls. Camped for the night.
Sunday, 25th. Fine weather. Wind ahead strong. Start at daylight. At breakfast time people go off hunting. Kill a Bull but only bring part of it. Start again at 1/2 past 7 pm. Drift.
26th. Fine weather. Pull all day and encamp at the Grand Sucrerie (candy?).
27th. Do. Arrive at Carlton about 7 am.

James Douglas, Diary of a Journey from Fort Vancouver in 1835:
Saty. 2nd May. Left Edmonton at 8 o'clock am. Encamped at Carp River.
Suny 3rd. Encamped a few miles below the crooked Fall or Rapide Croche. The river is so very low that our progress is continually interrupted by the numerous banks of gravel and scattered rocks which are concealed from view by a small depth of untransparent fluid. The boats are incessantly taking ground on the one hand or striking heavily on the others, and the crews on these occasions have no other way of clearing these obstacles but by leaping out and dragging them into deeper water, which is certainly not an agreeable pastime on a cold morning with ice forming all around them. We are surrounded on all sides by a fine country possessing all the natural beauties which can be well imagined in a wild uncultivated region. The banks of the river are lined with a narrow strip of trees, beyond which commences the extensive prairie embellished and diversified with waving groves of trees, and refreshing streams of water. These prairies are the favourite resort of the Moose and Red Deer, and they are also visited by a numerous herds of buffaloes [sic], and there cannot be a more cheerful or pleasing sight than to see the whole country teeming with life, and forcibly reminding the spectator of the flocks & herds of more favoured lands where the mild virtues of religion and civilization have refined and improved the human mind. The natives who inhabit this country are:
The Blackfeet, 300 tents
The Piegan, 500 tents
The Bood, 400 tents
Gros Ventres or Fall, 250 tents
Circus, 100 tents
The first three named tribes speak the same language and may be regarded as different families, having one common origin. The latter are distinct from the first, and from each other both in language, in appearance and in the general features of character. The Piegans, Blackfeet and Fall Indians are friendly and well disposed, but the Blood Indians are a fierce and violent people detested by all their neighbours. These tribes dispose of their dead in a manner which evinces none of the intense grief, or the fine and tender feelings which are found among other natives. Excepting in rare cases wherein a powerful chief, or a near and dear relative is concerned, the dead are simply wrapped in Buffalo robes and cast into the woods where they are quickly devoured by the wild animals which are always numerous about their camps.
They have some idea of a future state, and imagine that their spirits are received into the Buttes de Table, a place on the Bow River, where they enjoy uninterrupted felicity entirely of a spiritual nature.
Mon. 4 May. Encamped a short distance above Moose River.
Tues. 5. Fort Pitt. The weather exceedingly cold and unpleasant. We arrived here just in time to escape a heavy storm of hail and snow which continued to pour down upon us for nearly a full hour. Here are 40 tents of Cree Indians encamped around the fort apparently with the view of being protected against any sudden attack of their enemies. A month or two ago a War party consisting of 300 strong wood and Beaver Hill Crees made a hostile incursion into the Blackfoot Country, and accidentally fell in with a straggling party of 20 Circus warriors who on perceiving the enemy threw themselves into a thicket of trees, and after hastily constructing a temporary barricade boldly opened a spirited fire on the Crees who not relishing the idea of a rapid advance on their determined enemy contented themselves with maintaining a weak and desultory fire during the day. In the night the Circus who were not very strictly guarded escaped from their fortification leaving 11 of their number on the field of battle; of Crees, 3 killed and 10 wounded. The Circus who escaped reached their main camp and a strong party of their friends gave pursuit to the Crees who took up a strong position in the woods, where they could not be attacked but at a manifest disadvantage; and the two parties finally separated without any further attempt on either side. The whole Cree tribe are now living in continual alarm and are just on the wing for a flight to the strong woods where they may live in perfect security.
Wednesday 6. A cold frosty morning. Continued our journey this morning at 7 o'clock. Encamped a little above Manchester House.
Thurs. 7. Cold weather. Encamped a little above Battle River.
Friday 8. Above Lower Eagle Creek.
Sat. 9. Carlton.

Journal of a Voyage from Fort Vancouver, Columbia, to York Factory,Hudson's Bay, 1841, by George Traill Allan:
Friday 21st [May]. Having picked out six of my best men and the Guide at Mr. Harriott's request we once more abandoned the horses and embarking in a Boat began to descend the River Saskatchewan.
Sunday 23rd. We reached Fort Pitt, a small Fort under charge of Mr. Alexander Fisher and having received from him an additional supply of provisions continued our voyage. In our descent of the Saskatchewan nothing very interesting occurred. The Country on both sides the River is low and plains of immense extent meet the eye in every direction, with stripes of wood along the banks. The water of this River at this season is very thick and muddy and produces the illness when long confined to its use. At certain seasons of the year Buffalo are extremely numerous along the banks; at present we saw none, but abundance of Antelope, Wolves, some Red Deer or Elk and Black Bears. Buffalo were so numerous last year that the Hunters attached to Fort Edmonton alone killed four hundred head. The Fort last mentioned is built upon the Saskatchewan and is of great strength, having a balcony all round with a bastion at each angle in which we kept always charged a number of fire arms, there is also an observatory of considerable height which commands an extensive view of the adjacent country. All these precautions are by no means unnecessary as Edmonton is frequented by bands of Blackfeet, Assiniboines and other lawless tribes who consider it almost a duty to plunder & even murder a white man when opportunity offers. Mr. Harriott himself, who came to the Country when quite a boy and is much liked by the natives generally, being upon a voyage once, accompanied only by two men, fell in with a band of Assiniboines to whom he was well known and as it is almost a universal custom when we meet Indians to give them where-with to smoke, he drew up his horse and in order to get the Tobacco from his pocket laid the gun for a moment across his saddle, he had no sooner done so than an Indian snatched it up. Mr. Harriott was now defenceless and his two men were in the same predicament, their arms being taken from them by force. To endeavour to retake them was useless; they therefore returned to the Fort, too happy to escape with their lives; and had it been any one but Mr. Harriott ten to one had they never returned.
Tuesday 25th. We reached Fort Carlton in charge of Mr. Small; this Fort is just a duplicate of Edmonton, upon a smaller scale. We were now again about to change our mode of travelling.

Journal of a Trip from Vancouver to York Factory, Spring, 1847, by Thomas Lowe, in charge of party:
Saturday, 22nd [May]. Started from Edmonton this morning at daylight in a light boat, to go down the Saskatchewan. There were two boats, in one of which were Messrs [John] Rowand, O'Brien, Pelly & McDougall, and in the other Mr. ..... and myself. Pulled against a strong head wind the whole day. A great many carcasses of drowned buffalo along the banks. Fair and warm.
Sunday 23rd. Fine weather, and fair wind. Sailed most part of the day.
Monday 24th. Fine weather, but light contrary wind. Reached Fort Pitt at 3 pm. where we found the Brigade of boats, which had started before us from Edmonton.
Tuesday 25th. Fine pleasant weather. The boats were loaded today. There are in all 23 boats, having only 3 men per boat, including the steersman. From this place they have each 85 pieces which however will be considerably increased when they leave Carlton.
Wednesday 26th. Started from Fort Pitt this morning at daylight. Blowing a strong breeze ahead until breakfast time, when it changed and we were under sail the remainder of the day. The river is very low, and the boats lose much time by running aground on the Battures.
Thursday 27th. Fair weather. Pulled before breakfast, but sailed a good deal afterwards. Encamped at Battle River.
Friday 28th. Fine fair day. Had a good strong breeze, which enabled us to make a long distance.
Saturday 29th. Strong favourable breeze. Reached Carlton at 3 pm.
Sunday 30th. Fine weather. Men did no work today.
Monday 31st. Showery. Loading the boats, with the pieces from this place. Here a large quantity of grease & leather had to be left, as there was [no] means of taking the whole down.
Tuesday, 1st June. Raining at intervals during the day. Completed the ladings. There are now 110 pieces per boat, in addition to the 23 boats with which we arrived here, the brigade is to be increased by 1 batteau and 1 boat from the place.

For your information: Batteaux are flat-bottom boats, while York boats have keels.

Journal from Vancouver to York Factory with Express, Spring 1848, by Thomas Lowe:
Thursday 25th [May]. Fine weather. Started this morning from Edmonton after an early breakfast to descend the Saskatchewan, with a brigade of 5 boats, in 3 of which were passengers. In one were Messr. Harriott, [Paul] Kane, and Clare, in another Mr. Fraser, his son, myself, and Dr. Kennedy's two boys, and in the third Bishop Demers and Robert Logan. Each boat had a cargo of 30 pieces and a crew of 6 men, including the steersman. Sailed for some part of the day, and as the River is rather high, made a good distance. Drifted all night.
Friday 26th. Cloudy. Passed a camp of Crees before breakfast. Our boat is in a very leaky state and gives us constant employment baling out the water. Sailed for a considerable time today, and drifted at night.
Saturday 27th. Weather still very cloudy. Arrived at Fort Pitt immediately after breakfast, where we found that the 13 boats which had started from Edmonton on Tuesday had only arrived about two hours before us. Had our boat hauled up and repaired. Several packs wet.
Sunday 28th. Blowing very strong up the river. Bishop Demers had divine worship in the fort during the day.
Monday 29th. Fine weather. Started from Fort Pitt after breakfast. The Brigade was here increased by 3 boats, making now 21 in all. Each boat had 4 men, including the steersman, and a cargo of 70 pieces. Made a good distance.
Tuesday 30th.  Fine day, but a strong head wind. Pulled until breakfast time, and were windbound the rest of the day. Pull an hour in the evening.
Wednesday 31st. Went on until breakfast time, when we were again stopped by the wind, and could not start until late in the afternoon, having the wind still ahead.
Thursday, June 1st. Fine weather, sailed most of the day.
Friday 2nd. Splendid sail wind all day, and made a long distance. In the afternoon met a large war party of Blackfeet, amounting to about 500 men. We had to put ashore for them twice, and Mr. Harriott made them some presents of tobacco. This is said to be one of the largest parties who have been here for many years. Rained all night. Encamped about 10 miles below the Elbow.
Saturday 3rd. Snowed the whole day, and we were unable to move from our encampment.
Sunday 4th. Started this morning, and arrived at Carlton about 9 am. Had all the pieces from this place put into the boats & everything ready for starting. One boat only joins the Brigade from this place, but the cargoes are increased by 25 pieces per boat, making a total of 95 pieces. Each boat takes from this place a large quantity of fresh meat, as pemmican this year is very scarce, there not being above half the quantity in the boats that has been requested from below. Fine fair weather, but very cold.

Journal of the Columbia Express Party, 1849, by John Charles:
28th, Monday [May]. The Columbia Boat and two others left Edmonton about 4 am. Mr. [John] Rowand having started two hours after us, but his boat being better manned came up to us at 3 o'clock pm.
29th, Tuesday. Drifted all last night. Weather very warm. Arrived at Fort Pitt an hour before sunset. We found here upwards of twenty boats awaiting our arrival. Report of Blackfeet prowling about the vicinity of this Fort and their intentions to molest us on our way down to Carlton.
30th, Wednesday. Making every preparation for a start to morrow. Mr. McDougall's returns have not yet arrived.
31st, Thursday. The Saskatchewan Brigade of twenty five boats laden with the returns  of the Upper establishments left Fort Pitt about 8 am. Sailed towards evening. Simpson, McDonald and Mr. [John Lee] Lewes and family with Mrs. [Francis] Ermatinger and child. Encamped at sunset.
1st [June], Friday. Cloudy weather. Had a pretty heavy shower of rain towards evening.
2nd, Saturday. Rained very heavily last night and the greater part of this day, so much so that we were obliged to put ashore and cover up the boats. We left again at 4 pm. and camped about 10 o'clock.
3rd, Sunday. Arrived at Carlton House about 3 o'clock pm.The boats on arriving were all discharged for the purpose of examining such packs as got wet on the voyage. Warm weather.
4th, Monday. Waited all day at the Fort expecting that Alexis Nault would arrived with the Lesser Slave Lake Returns.

Carlton House was established in the autumn of 1795 by James Bird, of the Hudson's Bay Company.
Its first location was below the junction of the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers, but in 1804 it was re-established 150 kilometers upstream on the South Saskatchewan River.
Six years later it was moved to its present location, next to a rival North West Company post on the North Saskatchewan at La Montee, a shallow ford.
Eventually the NWC men abandoned their fort, but the HBC men remained.
It was established to trade for furs and buffalo robes, but over time Carlton House (or Fort Carlton) became a provisioning fort, supplying the other forts with pemmican, venison, fish and berries -- food stuffs.
In a year when there was little pemmican (as is mentioned in one of these journals), everyone starved!
And in other journals you will see how many buffalo these men loaded on their boats.
They would have delivered this fresh meat to Fort Carlton, to be pounded and dried into pemmican.

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