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Henry’s Journal

by Charles N. Bell

MHS Transactions, Series 1, No. 37
Read 9 May 1889

MHS Transactions were originally published by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make online versions available as a free, public service. As an historical document, Transactions may contain language that is no longer in common use and which may offend some readers. They should not be construed to represent the views of today’s Manitoba Historical Society.

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Part 2 here

Mr. C. N. Bell road the following paper at the meeting of the Historical Society, held on Thursday evening, May 9th, 1889, in the society's rooms in the city hall:

The present paper is the third of a series of publications of the manuscript journal of Alexander Henry, a trader of the Northwest Fur Company. The manuscript is on deposit in the library of Parliament at Ottawa. No. 31 of this society's transactions reviews the journal for the years 1799-1801, No. 35, covers the period from 1801 to 1806 and the present deals with the occurrences of 1806-1808, and includes a description of a trip to the Mandan villages on the Missouris River at a date subsequent to the famous visit of Catlin by twenty-four years.

In 1805 the Northwest Co. sent from Fort William to inland points 156 canoes loaded with 3,290½ pieces of merchandise and 1,771 pieces of provisions, (A piece weighed about 90 pounds, and was made up of that weight for convenience in transporting on the mens' backs across the numerous portages.)

Henry, during the summer of 1806, made a trip from his fort at Pembina to Fort Souris and thence to the Missouris river. Taking horses, he left Pembina on the 7th July and following a prairie trail, some miles west of the Red river, struck across to the "Grand Passage" of the Assiniboine about nine miles from the junction with the Red, or in other words to the ford in the present Parish of St. Charles. Camping at the "White Horse Plains" he found a well worn cart road branching off to "Lac Plat," (Shoal Lake) where a number of freemen were passing the summer. Then, as now, Shoal Lake was a favorite resort for wild fowl. Long Lake, at Bale St. Pauls, is mentioned under the name of "Raft Lake." Arriving at Portage la Prairie post, Henry notes that there was "an excellent garden and well stocked with potatoes, carrots, corn, onions, beets, parsnips, turnips, &c., all in great forwardness and good order. Cabbages and melons do not turn out so well as at the Paubian (Pembina) river."

On the 11th of July Henry, accompanied by his men Toussant Veudrie and Joseph Ducharme, left Portage la Prairie for the Souris river, and "at nine o'clock we passed the old Fort de Tremble where formerly there was an old establishment which

Was Attacked by the Crees

in the year 1781, when several of them were killed by the Canadians. This unfortunate affair appeared to be the opening of a plan, which the natives had in contemplation, for the total destruction of the whites throughout the Northwest country. A Mr. Bruce was master at this place. The Indians concerned were the Cress, Assiniboines and Bas de la Riviere Indians. Sixty tents were at the house at the time. The affair took place soon after the arrival of the canoes in the fall of the year 1781, while the people were still building, and, out of 21 men present, 11 hid themselves. The remaining 10 defended themselves bravely and drove off the Indians, both out of the houses and fort, and shut the gates. They however, lost three out of the ten, viz: Belleau, Tecteau and La France, and they killed 15 Indians on the spot and 15 more died afterwards of their wounds. The place was instantly abandoned canoes loaded, and all hands embarked and drifted down to the Forks (now Winnipeg) but on the moment of their departure arrived two young Indian lads from towards Fort Dauphin (on Lake Manitoba) and being strangers here, and the Indians all fled, they requested to embark, which was allowed them. At this time there was no mention of the small pox yet, but the first day they embarked one of the young lads complained of being unwell. The people gave him the loan of a blanket to cover himself with." (For some three years after this date the smallpox raged throughout the whole Northwest and thousands of the Indians died.)

At the Riviere Millieu (Middle Creek) Henry notes that "the Hair Hills advance to this place within about two miles of the river (south side Assiniboine), and with their most northerly extremity." After ascending a high hill they rested under some oak trees. "At this place we have for several years past kept up a trading establishment for the winter season; but the country at present is

Entirely Destitute of Beaver

and other good fur. You are sure of your horse only when you are on his back. The Salteaux will not steal, except rum, but the Crees, Assiniboines and Sonnants will steal anything." At the Wa-wap River, he writes, was the old Fort de Epinette: "At this place we formerly had an establishment for several years, but from the scarcity of wood, provisions, and other circumstances, the place was abandoned and was built higher up the river, where the settlement is at present, at the Riviere la Souris." Soon after the trail took them to "Montagne du Diable" (the Sand Hills), where "the sand is constantly moving eastward. There are many extraordinary stories related concerning this mountain, both by the Indians and Canadians, of the uncommon noise that has been heard in its bowels and the many apparitions that have been seen at night at one particular place." "We arrived at the establishment of Riviere La Souris which is situated on the south side of the Assiniboine river. (Later on he states that the fort way "a few miles above the mouth of the Souris.) I was therefore under the necessity of applying to the H. B. Co. people to ferry us over, which they very willingly did: Their fort stands on the north side where, indeed ours formerly stood also, but it is rather extraordinary that the gentleman of the Northwest Co. are so very fond of shifting their buildings, that a place is scarcely settled, when it is thrown up and planted elsewhere." Henry was a great mover himself, as is learned from his journal. The statement regarding the situation of the H. B. Co.'s fort at this place' is clear and decisive. Most writers of Northwest history have located the H. B. Co.'s post as being on the south side of the Assiniboine. Leaving for the Missouris they took a trail to the Moose Head, touching the Souris at the junction of the Plum river. Crossing the Plum they kept on the north side of the Souris and camped for the night near the "Fort de la Frenier," (Ash House.) Traveling 42 miles next day, on the morning following they arrived at the "Bute de Sable." Finding the Souris too high to ford, our route was some miles lengthened As the river here makes a considerable bend to the Northwest." "At 8 o'clock we came to the little river of Tote a la Biche, camping on a most beautiful high hill, at the foot of which flowed the little river on our left and the Riviere la Souris on our right." Buffalo were in plenty. On the 16th July they arrived at "another little stream of the Tete a la Biche, then the Souris spreads out on the plains for 20 leagues as far as the Riviere au Soule. Left the river and went out on the plain W.S.W. At 4 p.m. crossed the Pie River which rises in the Moose Mountain, about 15 leagues west of this, flowing into the Souris below the Riviere au Soule." Farther on they found a ford of the Souris. Henry states that the Sioux Indians often ranged up from the Missouri to this place

In Search of the Crees

and Assiniboines. Game was very abundant; antelope, deer, buffalo and many beavers were met with.

They then pushed on for the Missouris river and arrived there at a point "opposite the Big Belly (Gros Ventre) village, which Is On the Knife river about a mile from the Missouris." The Big Bellies would not ferry them over to the west side, so they went down four miles to the Mandan village, which was on their north aide. On their way they noticed the little Big Belly' village and the Soullier village, situated on the south aide. Before reaching the Mandan village they passed through about two miles of woods and then through "several plantations of Indian corn, beaus, squashes and sunflowers. The Latter grow wild, but are not so good as the cultivated plants. Passed through one of their abandoned villages about a mile above the present one. Near the deserted village we saw great numbers of their dead lying exposed upon stages, about eight feet from the ground. The envelopes or coverings, which are generally of dressed leather and parchment; many of which were still very good, whilst others were decayed and nothing but the bones appeared. Others again were decaying and daily falling to the ground as the stages fell to pieces. The sight was really melancholy and cast a damp upon our spirits, which had been much enlivened by the prospect of our having reached our destination." Near the village they met a Mandan guarding a lot of women hoeing corn. He had a gun and was pleased to see them. They saw large numbers of women and children working in the cornfields and near the village they were met by "Chat Noir," the chief of the place. They were conducted to a hut "especially reserved for strangers." The horses were tied to one side of the house while they occupied the other, "this being customary." The hut in which Henry lived during his stay in the village was 90 feet in diameter (circumference?) The floor was excavated, being a foot and a half below the surrounding ground. The fireplace was in the centre, about four feet square and sunk two feet in the ground. Two holes, about four feet square, were made at two sides of the roof and

Were Covered With Skins

when it rained: There was no other light nor chimney. The roof was thatched with willows and one foot of earth placed on top, while at the sides the wall was three or four feet thick. The door was five feet broad and six in height, with a covered way, or porch, on the outside, of the same height as the door, but seven feet broad and ten long. The doors were of raw buffalo hide stretched on frames and hung from above by cords. The doors were barricaded at night by bars. The firewood supply for the year was caught in the spring drifting down the Missouris. Long strings of dried squashes hung in the huts. The medicine post was adorned with buffalo heads well daubed over with paint. The beds were in the form of bunks running around the sides.

Many pages of the journal are filled with notes regarding the Mandans which are too lengthy to be given in this paper, but they are for the most part almost identical with the observations recorded many years after by Catlin. Some of the most striking are as follows:

"An extraordinary circumstance struck me among these people to see several children of about ten years of age whose hair was perfectly grey and bore the resemblance of an aged person. Those I saw were all girls. The hair of these people inclines to brown and in cases almost fair. It is not coarse. It is not more than 30 years since they first saw any of us. (White traders ?) Their eyes are from grey to dark brown."

Their meat was often cooked by suspending it by a cord from the roof, a person sitting turning and moving it continually until cooked. They were at this time much troubled with a bad cough, which killed many of them. "This, a kind of whooping cough which has made its appearance all through the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, and even to Fort des Prairies." The weather was very warm, but the huts were cool.

Referring to the women working in the fields, Henry writes, "Their hoes are nothing more than the shoulder-blades of a buffalo, to which is fastened a crooked stick, and serves for the handle; the soil being but little interrupted by stones, renders this slight utensil of every use of a real hoe." So much cultivated land was seen that Henry remarks, "In every direction are the plantations, the whole view together had really a very agreeable appearance, and had more the appearance of a country

Inhabited by a Civilized Nation

than by a set of barbarous savages. The Soulliers are entirely distinct from Big Bellies and Mandans. They had 40 huts." The Big Bellies were also different in many respects from the Mandans. They left their summer camp in the fall and traveled about a good deal, though they cultivated corn and beans. Their burial places were the same as the Mandans, with bodies decaying and falling from the stages.

With the Mandana the corn was generally bruised or pounded in a wooden mortar" which is fixed fast and firm in the ground in one corner of the hut. This is the first work performed by the women in the morning after having paid their devoirs to their lovers and wash themselves in the Missouris. Theirs sweet corn and beans are boiled whole. They make use of huge earthen pots of their own manufacture, made of a black clay, of which they have plenty near their villages. They make them of different sizes, from five gallons to one quart. In these vessels is never anything cooked of a greasy nature, every family being provided with a brass or copper kettle for the purpose of cooking flesh in. Whether this proceeds from superstition or not I cannot say, but they assured me that any kind of flesh cooked in those earthen pots would cause them to split. These are constantly standing by the fire, one or more of the largest kind boiling prepared corn and beans, and whoever comes in is welcome to help themselves with as much as they can eat. The bottoms of these pots are of an oblong shape. It therefore requires much care to keep them from upsetting, for which purpose, when they are put to the fire, a hole is made in the ashes to secure and keep them erect, and when taken away they are placed upon a sort of coil made of the fibres of the bola blanc. These coils or rings are made of different sizes, according to the dimensions of the several pots which keep them firm and secure. Some of their pots are provided with two ears on handles and are more convenient than those that have none."

Prior to this time the Pawnees and Mandans, with the Big Bellies, were at peace, but were now at war continually. The Mandans used the bow and arrow for hunting buffalo. On their arrival in the village "Baptiste Lafrance made his appearance. This man had left the Riviere Souris in May, equipped by the H. B. Co. with a small assortment, for the purpose of trading. He now resides upon the south side of the river at the great Mandan village, and hearing of the arrival of white people, came over to us. He now informed the Black Cat, our kind host, who his guests were, and the cause of our visit was were curiosity." The Black Cat then put his American flag over the hut.

A Flag and Medal

had been given to him by Captains Lewis and Clarke the year before, when they stopped there while en route to the Pacific. A lot of articles had also been left for the Indians, including an iron hand mill, which was immediately broken up to make arrow points. At the mouth of the Knife River was the little village of Big Bellies, consisting of sixty tents. On the Knife River was the large Big Belly village of 130 huts. At this place they found two Northwest Company employees, named Charles Mackenzie and James Coldwell, who were trading from the Souris fort.

Henry went with the Gros Ventres; to a large camp of Schains (Cheyennes) which was situated at a distance of two days' journey. They found the Cheyennes afar from friendly and had to closely watch them to prevent an attack.

Sixteen years before the date of Henry's visit (or about 1790) the Gros Ventres had been attacked by the Sioux (Tetons and Yantons) in their village, but had fought them off and, it was said, had killed 300 Sioux. Henry was shown a great pile of bones of the killed.

That corn was extensively cultivated by the Big Bellies is learned by the following: "They keep their corn in holes which contain 20 or 30 bushels. I was really surprised to see what quantities they had still upon hand and I am very confident they had a sufficient stock to serve them at least twelve months without any supply of flesh or anything else." The village was surrounded by a stockade of driftwood very much dilapidated and falling to pieces, but quickly repaired on a signal of danger being given. The Mandans, Gros Ventres and Soulliers cut off the first joint of the finger on the death of relatives or on arriving at the age of manhood. When a young man arrived at the age of twenty he wont to a high hill and remained for several days without food or water, crying and singing. He then returned to the village and had one or more buffalo heads fastened to an arrow thrust through a strip of his skin and flesh, one head being attached for each day he remained on the hill. He then walked about the village pulling the heads, making a circuit for each day he had been absent. They also tortured themselves by thrusting arrow points under the skin, in bars, from the wrist to the shoulder. The women tatooed extensively and were vilely unchaste. Diseases that are generally understood to have been communicated to the natives by white men are declared by Henry to have been common amongst these Indians, and he states that the whites contracted them when they went there to trade.

Thirty families of Crow Indians from the Rocky Mts. arrived at the Mandan camp "with furs and slaves to trade for guns, etc., which can only be got here unless they go with the Flatheads to the Spanish settlements. The Big Bellies are not good to the Crow Indians and frown on them in their villages. Their language is nearly the same. A few Flatheads were with the Crows. The Crows are much like the Big Bellies in dress, customs, etc., and only give way to them because they have to trade for guns, etc."

Referring to the tobacco raised by the Mandans, Henry writes: "But as that herb (tobacco) is not pet arrived at proper maturity, they make use of only the blossom at present. Those are collected as necessity requires, and dried before the fire, upon s fragment of an earthen pot, and in this state it is smoked by all the natives, but I find the flowers a very poor substitute for our own tobacco, being only a mere nauseous, insipid weed. When ripe the leaf is something better, but even then it is mere trash, possessed of neither strength nor virtue."

A party of Assiniboines from Moose mountain had been trading for horses and corn in the camp, so it is evident that the Northern tribes were in communication with the Missouris river Indians.

In reference to the provisions used by the Mandans, Henry does not mention pemmican, but especially describes the food carried by travelers as

Principally Parched Corn

pounded into a fine flour in a mortar and then mixed up with a small portion of fat and mixed up into balls about the size of an egg. This may be eaten in its present state or mixed with water, or allowed to boil for a short time."

Leaving the Missouris on the 28th of July, the party, consisting of ten men, with twenty-five horses, made straight across the prairies to the Assiniboine at the mouth of the Souris, whence Henry proceeded to his past at Pembina, taking a trail on a direct course via the Pembina river.

The only outpost established this year in connection with the Pembina was at the Sandy Hill river. The trade at Portage la Prairie was destroyed through a fight between the Indians there. A party of our Indian hunters from Sandy Hill river was attacked in the spring while working the beaver in the Folle Avoine (Wild Rice) river. One Indian was killed and a Canadian of the name of Charette." Nothing of interest is mentioned during the following winter or summer of 1807 until the 14th September, when "I sent off a boat for above, Wm. Henry, master, with T. Veudrie, interpreter, and seven men, to build at the Grand Fourche." This evidently was the beginning of the present rising town of Grand Forks. A few days after the Hudson's Bay Company's people followed Henry's men to Grand Forks to build a fart. A large number of "freemen," or discharged employes of the fur companies, began to enter the Red River country, where they hunted and traded. The Northwest Company in 1800-7 had posts at Portage la Prairie, under L. Dorion; Riviere au Milieu, T. Veudrie; Sandy Hill River, Wm. Henry and M. Longlais; and Pembina, A. Henry. On Dec. 15th, 1807, a young Orkney girl, who had passed as a boy in the service of the H. B. Co., went to Henry's house at Pembina and gave birth to a child. She had followed her lover from the Orkneys, and he was at that time stationed at Grand Forks.

[NOTE. - The late Mr. Donald Murray informed me that the history of this girl was well known to him and others of the early Selkirk settlers. She was at James Bay for two years, and then at Brandon House, on the Assiniboine, for some time, and was afterwards sent to the H. B. Co.'s post at Pembina. It has been claimed that the first white woman who arrived in the Red River country was a French Canadian, Madame Lajimoniere, who came. to the Northwest from Three Rivers, Quebec, in 1806, but from the evidence obtained from Henry's journal, and verbal statements of Mr. Donald Murray, there can be no doubt but that this Orkney girl had been here for at least a year when. Madame Lagimoniere arrived. Concealing her true sex for three or four years, it was only revealed to one man, John Scart, until after the birth a1; her child, in December, 1807. She was sent home to the Orkneys, and I am informed became, with her daughter, public characters, and were known as vagrants, under the name of the "Norwesters." Mr. Murray stated "this was undoubtedly the first white woman who lived in the Red River country. I knew both Baptiste Lajimoniere and his wife, but I never before heard that it was claimed that she was the first white woman in this country."]

During the winter of 1807-8 the Saulteaux and Sioux along the Red River were continually fighting. Several of Henry's Indian hunters -were killed at Grosse Isle, near the Folle Avoine River (now in Dakota). In January, 1808, buffalo were killed at Pembina by men stationed at the stockades of the fort. In February, mention is again made of the people being afflicted "with a cough end cold which attacked every man, woman, and child." The Indians hunted but little through fear off the Sioux. Henry had "a carriage made for the cohorn," so that we have evidence that cannon, of same description, were used by the traders at that date to

Defend Their Trading Posts

Under date of 29th March the journal contains an entry throwing light on the introduction of poultry to the Red River country. "Having brought a cock and two hens in last summer from Fart William, one of the hens died last fall and the other began to lay eggs to-day." On the 11th April the Red River was clear of ice, and in May Henry notes: "Out of 12 eggs my lien hatched 11 chickens." On May the 10th, "in the course of twenty -four hours, we caught 120 sturgeon in. one net, weighing from 60 to 150 pounds each." "The drinking match commenced by my giving out a ten gallon keg of high wines gratis. Daring the boisson an Indian was murdered; he received fifteen stabs." A few days before a young woman had blown off her husband's head with his own gun. "Murders amongst those people are so frequent that we pay but little attention to them, the only excuse they have for such outrageous conduct is that they were drunk and foolish."

On June the 10th Henry sent off the brigade for Fort William and returned to Pembina to pass the summer, and he notes that there were great swarms of grasshoppers. The furs sent out this year from the Red River posts included 696 beavers, 161 black bears, 935 martens, 198 mink, 118 otter, 118 fishers, 46 raccoons, etc. 3,159 pounds of maple sugar were received at Pembina from its neighborhood, and Leech Lake (Minnesota). Under the heading of "Provisions destroyed (i.e. eaten) at the Pembina River, from Sept. let, 1807 to July 1st, 1808, by 17 men, 10 women, 14 children and 45 dogs," is given a statement of 147 buffalo weighing 63,000 pounds, 6 deer, 4 beavers, 3 swans. 1 crane, 12 geese, 36 ducks, 1,150 fish, 775 sturgeon (weighing from 50 to 150 pounds each), 410 pounds of grease, 140 pounds pounded meat, 325 bushels potatoes, and an assortment of small vegetables. The total coat of the above provisions to the Northwest Company was 54 6s, The weight in pounds of dressed buffalo are given as follows: A fat cow 600 to 700, a lean cow 300, a bull averages 550, a two-year-old heifer 200, a one year-old calf 110. The percentage for cost of carriage to Pembina on original invoices were: Twine 45 per cent; shot and balls 26 per cent; gun powder 90 per cent; liquor 210 per cent, etc.

On July 20th, 1808, a note appears in the journal that a trip was made far the first time with carts on the east side of the Red River.

On July 22nd, there had been a drinking match at Pembina and the Indians were all drunk, 22 men 50 women and a large number of children. In the fort Henry had nine men. About midnight a volley was fired into the Saulteau camp by a hand of Sioux. Henry had disarmed the Saulteux when their drinking match began and they now rushed to the fort and climbed the stockades, yelling and howling. The gates were opened to admit the women and children and then securely fastened, and sentinels

Stationed in the Blockhouses

in the corners of the fort. On hearing the Sioux across the Pembina river consulting together, Henry loaded his cohorn with a pound of powder and thirty balls and discharged it at the spot: The Sioux immediately decamped to another place, when he again fired the cohorn at them. They then fled to a distance of about a mile and a half from the fart and endeavored to entice the occupants out. Henry would not allow any one to go, but sent the women to the river, close by, to get water to fill vessels kept in readiness for such an occasion. The Saulteaux were very anxious to fight. An hour after sunrise the Sioux filed off to the south by a road along the Red River. The Saulteaux immediately crossed the Pembina thud examined the place where the Sioux had fired from in the night. They found a whip, saddle, and several pairs of shoes which had been thrown away. The whip was stained with blood. Shortly after a party of "freemen" from the Upper Pembina arrived, having luckily taken a road not usually followed, and in this way escaped the Sioux. The next morning Henry, with five Indiana on horseback, started from the fort to follow the wax trail for a distance to learn its direction. On the spot where they bad prepared themselves for the attack in the, night, and which was in full sight of the fort, about ore and a half miles from it, were found upwards of one hundred pairs of worn out shoes, scalps, and remnants of leather and buffalo skins, saddle cloths made of buffalo robes, whips, pieces of old saddles, roils of bark that contained their war caps, bark and willow dishes, paunches and bladders of water for a journey, upwards of 100 willows stripped of their bark with a fork about the middle, and stuck into the ground. They were about six feet long, and this I am told, is for the purpose of hanging their war caps, previous to their attacking an enemy. Here we also observed a vast number of places where they had seated themselves in the long grass by twos, threes and fours, far the purpose of adjusting their war dresses. At every seat we found a quantity of swans down colored with red earth, under which we found from one to four small stones about the size of an egg, and near this was stuck in the ground the same number of willows about two feet long, stripped of their bark, and daubed with red earth also. This place is called by the Indians the spot of the last sacrifice, and is common amongst all Indians. It is here that they adjust themselves for the battle, and generally make a sacrifice of different articles that they have brought with them for that purpose, and make the protection of the supreme being, or as they term it, the master of life: The Saulteaux are much more liberal on these occasions; when they go to war with their neighbors the Sioux, they generally take a quantity of their very best articles to sacrifice previous to engaging in battle."

The Sioux trail was followed for some distance, when it resembled a buffalo path winding along the edge of the prairie or cutting across from point to point of the woods. They had not all been mounted, and from the make of the different shoes found, "were likely of the following tribes, viz.: Yantons, Gens de la Feuille (Leaf) and some other." Under the date of August 1st, Henry writes, "our H. B. Co. neighbors dare not stir from their fort, they are so much in dread of the Sioux."

August 3rd, Henry received orders to proceed to the Saskatchewan to take charge of the Lower Fort des Prairies district, and a few days latter he

Bid Adieu to the Red River

amidst the sorrowful farewells of the Indians. Descending the river from Pembina he stopped at Nettley Creek, then known as the River of Death. He camped at the Dead River with the Court Orielle and other Indians who were taking care of their gardens. "From them I purchased a small quantity of provisions. This small band of Court Orielle's, who had settled here at present, were formerly from the Michilimakinack. About sixteen pears ago the prospects of making great hunts in beaver invited them from their native country. At first they dispersed themselves in different quarters over the Northwest. A band of them went as far northwest as the Lesser Slave Lake and Athabasca River, by the route of the Saskatchewoine, but the beaver getting scarce they abandoned those parts and have now assembled nearly all at this place, where they pass the summer season attending the corn and potatoes, and in the autumn they separate for the purpose of hunting to procure the necessaries for us. These people have no inclination of intermixing by marriage with the Saulteaux. They keep within themselves and dispose of their daughters only among their own tribe. Their manner of living is equally correspondent with their own nation, erecting stationary bark huts for the summer and light bark rind for the winter, also rush mats. Their utensils and handsome furniture are all of a more I neat construction, and generally kept very clean. Upon the whole they are much more civilized and more laborious than the Saulteaux. The first corn and potatoes they planted here was a small quantity which I gave them in the spring of 1805, since which period they have extended their fields and hope, in the course of a few years, to make corn a perpetual article of trade by selling their produce to us. A Saulteau came to me in a very ceremonious manner, and, after having lighted and smoked his pipe, informed me of his having been up a small river a few days ago upon a hunting excursion, when, one evening, while upon the water in his canoe watching the beaver, to shoot them, he was suddenly surprised by the appearance of a very large animal in the water. At first he took it for a moose deer and was preparing to fire at it accordingly, but on its approach towards him he perceived it to be one of the

Mitche Amicks, or Large Beaver

He did not fire, but allowed it to pass on quite near to his canoe without molesting it. I had already heard many stories concerning this large beaver among the Saulteaux, out I cannot put any faith in it. Fear, I presume, magnifies an ordinary sized beaver into one of those monsters, or probably a moose deer or a bear, in the dark, may be taken for one of them."

Leaving the Death river, they entered Lake Winnipeg and skirted along the west side, "among the reeds and rushes as far as the entrance of the Riviere la Terre Blanche, where they put ashore for a short time near the old establishment where I had a party of my people who wintered here in 1804-5. They made but miserable returns and perished with hunger. Since that time no Indians will consent to winter here. This is now my last Saulteau establishment which I made upon the Red River and I must now bid adieu to the Saulteau tribes, with whom I have passed sixteen long winters, during which space of time I have experienced every trouble, danger and inconvenience, attending the trade and management of affairs among that turbulent nation. I have been frequently fired at by them, and had several very narrow escapes for my life, but am happy to say they never pillaged from me the value of a needle. Fifteen of those winters I was strongly opposed by different interests, and of all professions upon earth I sincerely believe that of all, competition in trade among the Saulteau tribes is the greatest slavery a person of any feeling can undertake. A common dram shop in a civilized country is a Paradise in comparison to the Indian trade when two or more interests are engaged. The Saulteau are always ready to take advantage of the moment and will dispose of their skins and furs to the highest bidder: No ties or former favors or service rendered them will in any manner induce them to give up the skins one penny cheaper than they can get elsewhere."

Creeping slowly along the shore, they passed Riviere aux Brochet, Pointe aux Ragomi Noire, Tete aux Pichaux and Isle du Campment, at the foot of the traverse of St, Martin's Islands. "It is at this place that the canoes for Fort Dauphin, Swan River and Riviere a la Biche strike off to the left southwest down the bay for the entrance of the Riviere Dauphin, while those for the Northwest cross among St. Martin's Islands for the mainland." They then stood for the Toad Island, Pointe aux Canah Cassie, Pointe Maline, Egg Island, Pointe aux Gravois, Moose Nose Island, Horse Island, and "soon after came to the mouth of the Saskatchewoine River, or, as the French call it, Riviere du Pass."

This closes Henry's narrative of his life in the Red River country. The following three years of his life were spent in the Saskatchewan, and his daily journal contains some very valuable information regarding the country and the Indian tribes.

Page revised: 22 May 2010

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