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 lower 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.
Monday, 31. Alexandria. ... Mr. Goedike is to pass the summer with me, also two interpreters, and three labouring men, besides several women and children, who together, form a snug family.
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, May 4. Alexandria. Here, if Providence permit, I shall pass another summer, and have with me Mr. F. Goedike, one interpreter and several labouring men, besides women and children. As Mr. Goedike will be absent from the fort, during the greater part of the summer, I shall be, in a great measure, alone; for ignorant Canadians furnish little society. Happily for me, I have lifeless friends, my books, that will never abandon me, until I first neglect them.
Tuesday, 21. This afternoon, we had an uncommonly heavy shower of hail and rain. Yesterday, I sent Mr. F. Goedike, accompanied by several of our people, with a small assortment of goods, to remain at some distance from this, for several weeks. In the absence of my friend, this is to me, a solitary place. At such times as this, my thoughts visit the land of my nativity; and I almost regret having left my friends and relatives, among whom I might now have been pleasantly situated, but for a roving disposition. But Providence, which is concerned in all the affairs of men, has, though unseen, directed my way into this wilderness; and it becomes me to bear up under my circumstances, with resignation, perseverance and fortitude. I am not forbidden to hope, that I shall one day enjoy, with increased satisfaction, the society of those friends, from whom I have for a season banished myself.
Tuesday, December 27. Messrs. Henry and Goedike, my companions and friends, are both absent, on excursions into two different parts of the country. I sensibly feel the loss of their society, and pass, occasionally, a solitary hour, which would glide away imperceptibly, in their company.
Saturday, 24. Yesterday, Mr. F. Goedike arrived from Alexandria, and delivered me a letter from Mr. McGillies, requesting me to abandon Lac la Peche, and proceed, with all my people, to Alexandria. In the fore part of the day, we all left the former place.
Sunday, 29. Yesterday, the greater part of our people set out for Swan River; and to day, Mr. McGillies, and the most of those who were left, have departed for the New Fort, which is distant about forty-five miles, to the north west from the former general rendezvous, the Grand Portage, which the Americans have obliged us to abandon. It is thought necessary that I should pass another summer at this place; but I am happy in having with me my friends Henry and Goedike. There are here also one interpreter and several labouring men, besides women and children. We are preparing a piece of ground for a garden, the cultivation of which, will be an amusement; and the produce of it, we hope, will add to our comforts. Mr. Goedike plays the violin, and will occasionally cheer our spirits, with an air. But the most of our leisure time, which is at least five sixths of the whole, will be spent in reading, and in meditating and conversing upon what we read. How valuable is the art, which multiplies books, with great facility, and at a moderate expense. Without them the wheels of time would drag heavily, in this wilderness.
Thursday, 31. In the morning, Mr. Goedike, Collin, my interpreter, a young lad and myself, set off for the purpose of paying a visit to our X. Y. neighbours. On leaving the fort, we had the river to cross, which, in consequence of the late rains, is about sixty rods broad. Our only means of crossing it was a canoe, made of the skins of buffaloes, which, on account of the length of time that it had been in the water, began to be rotten. Before we reached the other side of the river, the canoe was nearly half Hilled with water. We drew it on shore, mounted our horses, visited our neighbours, and returned to the place where we had left our canoe, at about three o'clock P. M. Having repaired it a little, we embarked, for the purpose of returning to the fort. We soon perceived that the water came into the canoe very fast; and we continued paddling, in hope of reaching the opposite shore, before it would fill. We were, however, sadly disappointed; for it became full, when we had gone about one third of the distance; but it did not immediately overset. The water, in that place, was about five feet deep; but the current was strong, and it soon carried us to a place where we could not reach the bottom, and the canoe overset. We all clung to it and, thus drifted a considerable distance, until the canoe was, at length, stopped by a few willows, whose tops rose above the water. Here I had a moment, in which I could reflect on our truly deplorable condition, and directed my thoughts to the means of relief. My first object was, if possible, to gain the shore, in order to free myself from my clothes, which I could not do where I then was. But my great coat, a heavy poniard, boots, &c. rendered it very difficult for me to swim; and I had become so torpid, in consequence of having been so long in the cold water, that before I had proceeded one third of the way to the shore, I sunk, but soon arose again, to the surface of the water. I then exerted myself to the utmost; but, notwithstanding, soon sunk a second time. I now considered that I must inevitably drown; the objects of the world retire from my view, and my mind was intent only upon approaching death; yet I was not afraid to meet my dissolution.* I however made a few struggles more, which happily took me to a small tree that stood on what is usually the bank of the river, but which is now some rods distant from dry land. I remained there for some time, to recover strength, and at length proceeded to the shore; and as soon as I had gained it, my mind rose in ardent gratitude to my gracious Preserver and deliverer, who had snatched me from the very jaws of death! / was now safe on shore; but the condition of my unfortunate companions, was far different. They had still hold of the canoe in the middle of the river, and by struggling were just able to keep themselves from sinking. We had no other craft, with which to go upon the water, nor could any of our people swim, who were standing on the shore, the melancholy spectators of this scene of distress. I therefore took off my clothes, and threw myself, a second time, into the water, in order, if possible, to afford some aid to my companions. When I had reached the place where they were, I directed the boy, to take hold of the hair of my head, and I took him to a staddle, at no great distance, and directed him to lay fast hold of it, by which means he would be able to keep the greater part of his body above water. I then returned to the canoe, and took Collin to-a similar place. Mr. Goedike had alone proceeded to a small staddle, and would have reached the shore, had not the cramp seized him in one of his legs. I next tried to take the canoe ashore, but could not alone effect it. I therefore, swam to the opposite shore, caught a horse and mounted him, and made him swim to the canoe, at one end of which I tied a cord, and taking the other end in my teeth and hands, after drifting a considerable distance, I reached the land. After repairing the canoe a little, I proceeded to my three wretched fellow creatures, who had, by this time, become nearly lifeless, having been in the water at least two hours. By the aid of a kind Providence, however, they at last safely reached the shore; and so deeply were they affected with their unexpected escape, that they prostrated themselves to the earth, in an act of thanksgiving, to their great and merciful Deliverer.
*For at that time, I was Ignorant of my lost condition by nature, and of the necessity of being clothed in a better righteousness than my own, to prepare me to appear with safety before a holy God, in judgment.
Tuesday, 17. On the 8th instant, some Indians ran away with three of our horses; and on the following morning, Mr. Goedike and myself mounted two others, to pursue the thieves. We followed them for two days, and then, ascertaining that they were so far in advance of us, and travelled so fast, that it would be impossible to overtake them, before they would reach their camp, which is six or seven days' march from this, we ceased following them. We directed our course another way, for the purpose of finding buffaloe, but without success. We, however, killed as many fowls, in the small lakes, as we needed for daily consumption; and this evening returned to the fort, having had on the whole a pleasant ride.
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.
Tuesday, January 21, 1805. For nearly a month, we have subsisted on little besides potatoes; but thanks to a kind Providence, the last night, two of my men returned from the plains, with their sledges loaded with the flesh of the buffaloe. They bring us the pleasing intelligence, that there is a plenty of these animals within a day's march of us. This supply of provisions could not have come more opportunely, for our potatoes are almost gone. About a month since, I sent Mr. Goedike, accompanied by ten men, out into the plains, in hopes that they might fall in with the Natives, who would be able to furnish us with food; but we have heard nothing from them, and I cannot conjecture what should have detained them so long, as I did not expect that they would be absent, for more than ten days, from the fort.
Wednesday, 8. Riviere qui Apelle. On the 6th Mr. Goedike and several other persons with myself, left our boats, and proceeded on horse-back. As the fire has passed over the plains, this spring, it was with difficulty that we could find grass, sufficient for the subsistence of our horses.
Friday, 12. The Plain Portage. In the former part of the day, we met, A. N. McLeod, Esq. who is now from the New Fort, on his way back to Athabasca. We went on shore, and took breakfast with him. He has taken with him my friend Mr. F. Goedike, a young man possessed of a good understanding, and a humane and generous heart, who has been with me for four years past, and from whom I could not separate, without regret.
Friday, 14. This morning, my old friend Mr. F. Goedike, whom I have been happy to meet at this place, left us, with his company, for St. Johns, which is about one hundred and twenty miles up this river, where he is to pass the ensuing winter.
Thursday, 11. We, yesterday, sent off eleven canoes, loaded with the returns of this place and of St. John's; and, early this morning, Messrs. D. McTavish, J. G. McTavish, 1 F. Goedike and J. McGillivray, embarked on board of two light canoes, bound for the Rainy Lake and Fort William. But I am to pass the ensuing summer, at this place.—The last winter was, to me, the most agreeable one that I have yet spent in this country. The greatest harmony prevailed among us, the days glided on smoothly, and the winter passed, almost imperceptibly, away.