Sunday, March 22, 2015

In Daniel's Words: John Stuart

Wednesday, July 19. A few days since, Mr. John Stuart and company, came here, from New Caledonia, for goods; and to day, they set out on their return home. During the few days which that gentleman passed here, I derived much satisfaction from his society. We rambled about the plains, conversing as we went, and now and then stopping, to eat a few berries, which are every where to be found. He has evidently read and reflected much. How happy should I be to have such a companion, during the whole summer. But such is our mode of life in this country, that we meet but seldom; and the time that we remain together, is short. We only begin to find the ties of friendship, binding us closely together, when we are compelled to separate, not to meet again perhaps for years to come. Baptiste La Fleur, my interpreter, will accompany Mr. Stuart and his men, as far as St. John's, in hopes of obtaining some information respecting his brother, who, it is supposed, was killed by an Indian, the last spring, while on his way from the Rocky Mountain Portage to St. John's.

Tuesday, 22. Messrs. J. Stuart, and H. Faries and company, passed this place in four canoes, with the returns of New Caledonia and Rocky Mountain Portage; and, .like many others, they are on their way to the Rainy Lake.

Saturday, October 6. Mr. John Stuart and company, in four canoes, have arrived from Fort Chippewyan, having on board, goods for the establishment at the Rocky Mountain Portage and New Caledonia. This gentleman delivered me a packet of letters from home, and also a number of others from gentlemen in this country, one of which is a joint letter, signed by three of the partners, requesting me to go and superintend the affairs of New Caledonia; or, if I prefer it, to accompany Mr. Stuart, as second in command to him, until the next spring, at which time it is presumed, that I shall have learned sufficient of the state of things in that country, to assume the whole management myself. As Mr. Stuart has passed several years in that part of the country, the information which his experience will enable him to afford me, will be of great service. I prefer, therefore, accompanying him, to going alone, especially in view of the late unfavourable reports from that country, in regard to the means of subsistence.

Wednesday, October 10. St. John's. On the 7th Mr. Stuart and myself, with our company, left Dunvegan; and this evening, we arrived here. The current in the river begins to be much stronger than we found it below Dunvegan. On both sides of the river, are hills of a considerable height, which are almost destitute of timber of any kind. At different places, we saw buffaloes, red deer, and bears. During our passage to this place, the weather has been bad. The snow and rain have been very unpleasant, unprotected against them, as we are, in our open canoes. Thursday, 11. In the early part of the day, our people were busily employed in preparing Portage. Having a little business still to transact, I shall pass the night here.

Monday, 15. Rocky Mountain Portage Fort. We here find nearly eight inches of snow. Mr. Stuart and company reached here yesterday; and I arrived this morning. Be tween this place and St. John's, the river is very rapid, its banks are high, and the country, on both sides of it, is generally clothed with small timber. Ever since our arrival, we have been employed in delivering goods for this place, and dividing the remainder among our people, to be taken on their backs, to the other end of the portage, which is twelve miles over, through a rough and hilly country. We leave our canoes and take others, at the other end of the carrying place.

Wednesday, 14. The lake, opposite to the fort, froze over the last night. To day Mr. Stuart and company, arrived from McLeod's Lake. Saturday, 17. We have now about eight inches of snow on the ground. Sunday, 18. Mr. Stuart and company, have gone to Frazer's Lake. I accompanied them to the other side of this lake, where I saw all the Indians belonging to the village in this vicinity. They amount to about one hundred souls, are very poorly clothed, and, to us, appear to be in wretched circumstances; but they are, notwithstanding, contented and cheerful.

Friday, November 6. We have now about six inches of snow on the ground.—On the 27th ult. I set out for McLeod's Lake, where I arrived on the 29th. I there found Mr. John Stuart, who, with his company, arrived the day before, from Fort Chipewyan. His men are on their way to the Columbia River, down which they will proceed under Mr. J. G. McTavish. The coming winter, they will pass near the source of that river. At the Pacific Ocean, it is expected that they will meet Donald McTavish, Esq., and company, who were to sail from England, last October, and proceed round Cape Horn to the mouth of Columbia River. This afternoon Mr. Stuart and myself, with our company, arrived at this place, (Stuart's Lake) where both of us, God willing, shall pass the ensuing winter. With us, are twenty-one labouring men, one interpreter, and five women, besides children.

Saturday, January 23, 1813. On the 29th ult. Mr. Stuart and myself, with the most of our people, went to purchase furs and salmon, at Frazer's Lake and Stillas. The last fall, but few salmon came up this river. At the two places, above mentioned, we were so successful as to be able to procure a sufficient quantity. While at Frazer's Lake Mr. Stuart, our interpreter and myself, came near being massacred by the Indians of that place, on account of the interpreter's wife, who is a native of that village. Eighty or ninety of the Indians armed themselves, some with guns, some with bows and arrows, and others with axes and clubs, for the purpose of attacking us. By mild measures, however, which I have generally found to be the best, in the management of the Indians, we succeeded in appeasing their anger, so that we suffered no injury; and we finally separated, to appearance, as good friends, as if nothing unpleasant had occurred. Those who are acquainted with the disposition of the Indians and who are a little respected by them, may, by humouring their feelings, generally, control them, almost as they please.

Saturday, 25. An Indian has arrived, from a considerable distance down this river, who has delivered to me three letters from Mr. J. Stuart. The last of them is dated at O-kena-gun Lake, which is situated at a short distance from the Columbia River. Mr. Stuart writes, that he met with every kindness and assistance from the Natives, on his way to that place; that, after descending this river, during eight days, he was under the necessity of leaving his canoes, and of taking his property on horses, more than one hundred and fifty miles, to the above mentioned Lake. From that place, he states, that they can go all the way by water, to the Ocean, by making a few portages; and he hopes to reach the Pacific Ocean, in twelve or fifteen days, at farthest. They will be delayed, for a time, where they are, by the necessary construction of canoes.

Sunday, November 7. This afternoon, Mr. Joseph La Roque and company arrived from the Columbia River. This gentleman went, the last summer, with Mr. J. G. McTavish and his party, to the Pacific Ocean. On their return, they met Mr. Stuart and his company. Mr. La Roque, accompanied by two of Mr. Stuart's men, set off thence, to come to this place, by the circuitous way of Red Deer River, Lesser Slave Lake, and Dun vegan, from which last place, they were accompanied by my people, who have been, this summer, to the Rainy Lake. By them I have received a number of letters from people in this country, and from my friends in the United States.

Friday, February 4. This evening, Mr. Donald McLeunen and company, arrived here from the Columbia Department, with a packet of letters. One of these is from Mr. John Stuart, informing me that the last autumn, the North West Company purchased of the Pacific Fur Company, all the furs which they had bought of the Natives, and all the goods which they had on hand. The people who were engaged in the service of that company, are to have a passage, the next summer, to Montreal, in the canoes of the North West Company, unless they choose to enter into our service.

Saturday, 29. My people have returned from the Rainy Lake, and delivered me letters from my relatives below. They afford me renewed proof of the uncertainty of earthly objects and enjoyments, in the intelligence, that a brother's wife has been cut down by death, in the midst of her days, leaving a disconsolate husband, and two that the rest of my numerous relatives, are blessed with health, and a reasonable portion of earthly comforts. I have also received a letter from Mr. John Stuart, who has arrived at McLeod's Lake, desiring me to go and superintend the affairs at Frazer's Lake, and to send Mr. La Roque, with several of the people who are there, to this place, that they may return to the Columbia department, where it is presumed they will be more wanted, than in this quarter. Tomorrow, therefore, I shall depart for Frazer's Lake.

Monday, 27. The weather is serene and cold; and thus far, this has been much the coldest winter that I have experienced in this part of the country.—The winters are, generally milder here, than in most parts of - the North West. Mr. Stuart has just left me, on his return home. The few days which he has spent here, were passed much to our mutual satisfaction; and I hope that we shall reap some benefit from this visit. Religion was the principal topic, on which we conversed, because, to both of us, it was more interesting than any other. Indeed, what ought to interest us so much, as that which concerns our eternal welfare? I, at times, almost envy the satisfaction of those, who live among christian people, with whom they can converse, at pleasure, on the great things of religion, as it must be a source of much satisfaction, and of great advantage, to a pious mind.

Monday, July 24. , Fruits, of various kinds, now begin to ripen. Of this delicious food, the present prospect is, that we shall soon have an abundance; and for this favour, it becomes us to be grateful to the Bestower. The person who is surrounded with the comforts of civilized life,- knows not how we prize these delicacies of the wilderness. Our circumstances, also, teach us to enjoy and to value the intercourse of friendship. To be connected, and to have intercourse, with a warm and disinterested friend, who is able, and will be faithful, to point out our faults, and to direct us by his good counsel, is surely a great blessing. Such a friend, I have, in my nearest neighbour, Mr. Stuart. For some time past, he has frequently written to me long, entertaining and instructive letters, which are a cordial to my spirits, too often dejected, by the loneliness of my situation, and more frequently, by reflections on my past life of folly and of sin. Mr. James McDougall, also, another gentleman in this department, is equally dear to me. His distance from me, renders intercourse less practicable; but endeavour to make up in conversation, for our long separation.

Monday, April 15. My desire to return to my native country has never been so intense, since I took up my abode in the wilderness, as it is now, in consequence of the peculiar situation of my friends; yet, I cannot think of doing it this season, as it is absolutely necessary that I should pass the ensuing summer at this place. I shall write to my friends below, a few days hence; and as we live in a world of disappointment and death, I am resolved to forward to them by Mr. John Stuart, a copy of my Journal, in order that they may know something of the manner in which I have been employed, both as it respects my temporal and spiritual concerns, while in the wilderness, if I should never enjoy the inexpressible pleasure of a personal intercourse with them.

See Wikipedia entry for John Stuart (explorer)

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