Saturday, March 21, 2015

In Daniel's Words: Charles Chaboillez, François la Rocque, and the Lewis and Clarke Expedition

Charles Chaboillez

Thursday, October i. This afternoon, Mr. Francis la Rocque arrived, from Montagne a la Basse, which lies about five days' march from this, down the river. He brought me letters from several gentlemen in this country, one of which is from Mr. Charles Chaboillez, who informs me that this place will be supplied with goods, this season, by the way of the Red River, of which department he has the superintendence. As I am to pass the winter here, he desires me to accompany Mr. La Rocque, down to Montagne a la Basse, and receive such goods as will be necessary for the Indians at this post. Friday, 26. Agreeably to the instructions of Mr. Chaboillez, in company with Mr. La Rocque, and an Indian, who served as guide, I set out on the 6th instant, for Montague a la Basse. Our course was nearly south, over a plain country; and on the 9th, we reached Riviere qui Apelle, where the North West and X. Y. companies have each a fort, where we tarried all night, with Monsieur Poitras, who has charge of that post. The next morning, we continued our march, which was always in beautiful plains, until the 11th, when we arrived at the place of our destination. There I found Mr. Chaboillez, C. McKenzie, &c. The fort is well built, and beautifully situated, on a very high bank of the Red River, and overlooks the country round to a great extent, which is a perfect plain. There can be seen, at almost all seasons of the year, from the fort gate, as I am informed, buffaloes grazing, or antelopes bounding over the extensive plains, which cannot fail to render the situation highly pleasant. I spent my time there very pleasantly, during eight days, in company with the gentlemen above mentioned. At times, we would mount our horses, and ride out into the plains, and frequently try the speed of our beasts.

On the 19th, I left that enchanting abode, in company with Messrs. Chaboillez, McKenzie, &c., and the day following, arrived at Riviere qui Apelle, where we found the people, waiting our arrival. They came here by water; but at this season, canoes go up no further, on account of the shallowness of the river. The goods intended for Alexandria, therefore, must be taken from this on horse back. Accordingly, we delivered out to the people such articles as we thought necessary, and sent them 'off; and the day following, Mr. Chaboillez returned to Montagne a la Basse, and Mr. McKenzie and myself proceeded to Alexandria, where we arrived this afternoon, after having made a pleasant jaunt of twenty one days. Here I shall pass the winter, having with me Mr. Goedike, two interpreters, twenty labouring men, fourteen women and sixteen children.

Saturday, November 24. Some people have just arrived from Montagne a la Basse, with a letter from Mr. Chaboillez, who informs me, that two Captains, Clarke and Lewis, with one hundred and eighty soldiers, have arrived at the Mandan Village on the Missouri River, which place is situated about three days' march distant from the residence of Mr. Chaboillez. They have invited Mr. Chaboillez to visit them. It is said, that on their arrival, they hoisted the American flag, and informed the Natives that their object was not to trade, but merely to ex plore the country; and -that as soon as the navigation shall open, they design to continue their route across the Rocky Mountain, and thence descend to the Pacific Ocean. They made the Natives a few small presents, and repaired their guns, axes, &c., gratis. Mr. Chaboillez writes, that they behave honourably toward his people, who are there to trade with the Natives.

Wednesday, April 10. On the 24th ult. I set out on horse back, accompanied by one man, for Montagne a la Basse. When we arrived there, we were not a little surprised to find the fort gates shut, and about eighty tents of Crees and Assiniboins encamped in a hostile manner, around it, and threatening to massacre all the white people in it. They, in a menacing manner, threw balls over the palisades^ and told our people to gather them up, declaring that they would probably have use for them in the course of a few days. After having passed several days there, I set out to return home. Just as I had gotten out of the fort gate, three vil lainous Indians approached me, and one of them seized my horse by the bridle and stopped him, saying, that the beast belonged to him, and that he would take him from me. I told him that he had disposed of him to Mr. Chaboillez, who had charge of the post; and that of this gentleman, I had purchased him, and that I had no concern with the matter, which was wholly between him and Mr. Chaboillez. Perceiving, however, that he was determined not to let go of the bridle, I gave him a smart blow on his hand, with the butt end of my whip, which consisted of a deer's horn, and instantly striking my horse, I caused him to spring forward, and leave the Indian behind. Finding myself thus clear of this fellow, I continued my rout; but he with one of his companions, followed us nearly half of the day, if not longer. After this length of time we saw no more of them. Apprehensive, however, that they might fall upon us in our encampment at night, and steal our horses, and probably massacre us, after it became dark, we went a little out of the path, and laid ourselves down; but we dared not make a fire, lest the light or the smoke should discover the place where we were.

While at Montague a la Basse, Mr. Chaboillez, induced me to consent to undertake a long and arduous tour of discovery. I am to leave that place, about the beginning of June, accompanied by six or seven Canadians, and by two or three Indians. The first place, at which we shall stop, will be the Mandan Village, on the Missouri River. Thence, we shall steer our course towards the Rocky Mountain, accompanied by a number of the Mandan Indians, who proceed in that direction every spring, to meet and trade with another tribe of Indians, who reside on the other side of the Rocky Mountain. It is expected that we shall return from our excursion, in the month of November next. [This journey, I never undertook; for soon after the plan of it was settled, my health became so much impaired, that I was under the necessity of proceeding to Head Quarters, to procure medical assistance. A Mr. La Rocque attempted to make this tour; but went no farther than the Mandan Village.]

See LaRoque's Journal of a Voyage to the Rocky Mountains

Monday, 27. Riviere a la Souris, or Mouse River. This is about fifty miles from Montagne a la Basse. Here are three establishments, formed severally by the North West, X. Y. and Hudson Bay companies. Last evening, Mr. Chaboillez invited the people of the other two forts to a dance; and we had a real North West country ball. When three fourths of the people had drunk so much, as to be incapable of walking straightly, the other fourth thought it time to put an end to the ball, or rather bawl. This morning, we were invited to breakfast at the Hudson Bay House, with a Mr. McKay, and in the evening to a dance. This, however, ended more decently, than the one of the preceding evening.

Monday, August 3. First long Portage in the Nipigon Road. We yesterday, separated from Messrs. Chaboillez and Leith, who have gone to winter at the Pic and Michipcotton; and to day, we left Lake Superiour, and have come up a small river.

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