Saturday, March 21, 2015

In Daniel's Words: Archibald Norman McLeod

Archibald Norman McLeod
Since our arrival here, we have received intelligence from the Swan River Department, which country lies between Lake Winipick and the Red and Assiniboin Rivers, that, in the opinion of Mr. McLeod, who superintends the concerns of that region, it is necessary to make another establishment there. It is therefore determined that I shall go and take charge of it; and I shall accordingly remain here a few days, to wait for the arrival of the brigade, destined to the Swan River department."

"Friday, September 1. In the morning, Mr. McGillis, with most of the people, left us to proceed to the Red Deer River, where they are to pass the ensuing winter. Mr. McLeod, with a number of people in one canoe, has gone to Lac Bourbon, which place lies nearly north west from this. We here take, in nets, the white fish, which are excellent."

Sunday, 12. The people destined to build a fort which is situated nearly one hundred miles to the westward of this, among the Prairies. There I shall pass the winter, with Mr. McLeod, or go and build by the side of the Hudson Bay people, who are about three leagues distant from him.—Our men shoot a few horses and ducks. Thursday, 16. We have taken a few fish out of this river, with nets. This evening, two men on horses arrived from Alexandria, by whom I received a letter from Mr. McLeod, requesting me to accompany them to that place.

This place lies in Latitude 52° north, and in 103° west Longitude. Mr. McLeod is now gone to fort Dauphine, on horse back, which lies only four day's march from this, over land; yet it is nearly two months, since I passed there in a canoe. Tuesday, 28. Mr. McLeod and company have just returned from fort Dauphine; and I am happy in meeting him, after so long a separation, and he appears to be pleased to see me, safely here. From the time that I was left at the Encampment Island until now, I have had no French, though I can read it tolerably well.

Sunday, November 30. This, being St. Andrew's day, which is a fete among the Scotch, and our Bourgeois, Mr. McLeod, belonging to that nation, the people of the fort, agreeably to the custom of the country, early in the morning, presented him with a cross, &c., and at the same time, a number of others, who were at his door, discharged a volley or two of muskets. Soon after, they were invited into the hall, where they received a reasonable dram, after which, Mr. McLeod made them a present of a sufficiency of spirits, to keep them merry during the remainder of the day, which they drank at their own house. In the evening, they were invited to dance in the hall; and during it, they received several flagons of spirits. They behaved with considerable propriety, until about eleven o'clock, when their heads had become heated, by the great quantity them became quarrelsome, as the Cana dians generally are, when intoxicated, and to high words, blows soon succeeded; and finally, two battles were fought, which put an end to this truly genteel, North Western ball.

Saturday, April 4. Swan River Fort. Here I arrived this afternoon, and have come to pass the remainder of the spring. While at Alexandria, my time passed agreeably in company with A. N. McLeod, Esq. who is a sensible man, and an agreeable companion. He appeared desirous of instructing me in what was most necessary to be known, respecting the affairs of this country; and a taste for reading I owe, in a considerable degree, to the influence of his example. These, with many other favours, which he was pleased to show me, I shall ever hold in grateful remembrance.—But now I am comparatively alone, there being no person here, able to speak a word of English; and as I have not been much in the company of those who speak the French language, I do not as yet, understand it very well. Happily for me, I have a few books; and in perusing them, I shall pass most of my leisure moments.

Friday, 15. Sent five men with a canoe, two days march up this river, for Mr. McLeod and company, as the face of the country extensively lies under water. Wednesday, 20. The water has left the fort; and with pleasure, we leave our tents, to occupy our former dwellings. This afternoon Mr. McLeod, and company, arrived, and are thus far on their way to the Grand Portage. Tuesday, 26. Yesterday, our people finished making our furs into packs, of ninety pounds weight each. Two or three of these make a load for a man, to carry across the portages. This morning, all the hands, destined to this service, embarked on board of five canoes, for Head-quarters. To Mr. McLeod, I delivered a packet of I expect to pass the ensuing summer, and to superintend the affaire of that place and of this, until the next autumn.

Mr. A. N. McLeod has a son here named Alexander, who is nearly five years of age, and whose Mother is of the tribe of the Rapid Indians. In my leisure time, I am teaching him the rudiments of the English language. The boy speaks the Sauteux and Cree fluently, for a child; and makes himself understood tolerably well, in the Assiniboin and French languages. In short, he is like most of the children of this country, blessed with a retentive memory, and learns very readily.

Sunday, 30. Yesterday, three of our people arrived from the Grand Portage, with letters from Mr. McLeod, &c, which inform me, that the above mentioned people, together with others who remained at Swan River fort, were sent off from head quarters, earlier than usual, with an assortment of goods, supposing, that we might need some articles, before the main brigade arrives.

Sunday, 27. It has snowed and rained all day. This afternoon, Mr. McLeod and company, returned from the Grand Portage, and delivered to me letters from my friends in my native land; and I am happy in being informed, that they left them blessed with good health. Self-banished, as I am, in this dreary country, and at such a distance from all I hold dear in this world, nothing beside, could give me half the satisfaction, which this intelligence affords. I also received several letters from gentlemen in different parts of the widely extended North West Country.

Thursday, 29. On the 22nd instant, Mr. McLeod, with ten of his people, arrived on horseback; and on the day following, I accompanied them to the lowef fort, where I met Mr. William Henry, a clerk. Mr. McLeod has also brought another clerk into this country, by the name of Frederick Goedike. This evening, Messrs. McLeod, Henry and myself returned, but left the people behind, whose horses are loaded with goods, for this place and Alexandria.

Wednesday, December 23. Clear and cold. On the 16th inst. I went to Alexandria, where I passed several days agreeably, in the company of Messrs. McLeod, Henry, and Goedike. We have now more snow than we had at any time the last winter. In consequence of lameness, I returned on a sledge drawn by dogs.

Thursday, 6. This morning, I received a letter from Mr. McLeod, who is at Alexandria, informing me, that a few nights since, the Assiniboins, who are noted thieves, ran away with twenty two of his horses. Many of this tribe, who reside in the large prairies, are constantly going about to steal horses. Those which they find at one fort, they will take and sell to the people of another fort. Indeed, they steal horses, not unfrequently, from their own relations. Wednesday, 12. It has snowed and rained, during the day.—On the 7th inst. I went to Alexandria, to transact business with Mr. McLeod. During this jaunt, it rained almost constantly; and on my return, in crossing this river, I drowned my horse, which cost last fall, one hundred dollars in goods, as we value them here. Monday, 17. This afternoon, Mr. McLeod and company passed this place, and are on their way to the Grand Portage. But I am to pass, if Providence permit, another summer in the interiour, and to have the superintendence of the lower fort, this place and Alexandria, residing chiefly at the latter place.

Thursday, January 27, 1803. I have just returned from Alexandria, where I passed six days, much to my satisfaction, in the company of Messrs. H. McGillies, W. Henry and F. Goedike. While there, I wrote to Messrs. McLeod, A. Henry and J. Clarke, all of Athabasca, which letters will be taken to them, by our winter express.

Wednesday, September 3. ...I have also received letters from Mr. A. N. McLeod, and Mr. J. McDonald, which inform me, that I am to pass the ensuing winter at Cumberland House, for which place, I shall leave this, a few days hence.

Tuesday, 16. White River. In the morning we left the fort, at the entrance of Lake Winnipick River, and this afternoon, Mr. A. N. McLeod and company, from Athabasca, overtook us. With this gentleman, to whom I am under many obligations, I am happy to spend an evening, after so long a separation.

Monday, 20. The snow is fast dissolving.— .. Mr. A. R. McLeod and company, have just arrived from the Encampment Island; and they bring the melancholy intelligence of the death of Mr. Andrew McKenzie, natural son of Sir Alexander McKenzie. He expired at Fort Vermillion, on the 1st inst. The death of this amiable young man, is regretted by all who knew him.

No comments: