Agnes Christina Laut.

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the latter time on the field. The former acted as

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The Conquest of the Great Northwest

agents to sell the furs, the latter as wintering partners
to barter for the furs with the Indians. To each
were assigned equal shares — a share apiece to each
partner, or sixteen shares in all, in the first place;
later increased to twenty and forty-six and ninety-six
shares as the Company absorbed more and more
of the free traders. As a first charge against the
proceeds were the wages of the voyageurs — ;^ioo a
year, five times as much as the Hudson's Bay Com-
pany paid for the same workers. Then the cost of
the goods was deducted — ^$3,000 a canoe — and in the
early days ninety canoes a year were sent North.
Later, when the Nor'Westers absorbed all opposi-
tion, the canoes increased to five hundred. The
net returns were then divided into sixteen parts and
the profits distributed to the partners. By 1787,
shares were valued at £800 each. At first, net re-
turns were as small as ^£40,000 a year, but this divi-
dend among- only sixteen partners gave what was
considered a princely income in those days. Later,
net returns increased to ;i£i 20,000 and ;^2oo,ooo, but
by this time the number of partners was ninety-six.
Often the yearly dividend was £400 a share. As
many as 200,000 beaver were sold by the Nor' Westers
in a year, and the heaviest buyer of furs at Montreal
was John Jacob Astor of New York. Chief among
the Eastern agents^ w§re the two Frobisher brothers,

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**The Coming of the Pedlars*



Benjamin and Joseph — McGill, Todd, Holmes, and
Simon McTavish, the richest merchant of Montreal,
nicknamed "the Marquis" for his pompous air of
wearing prosperity. Chief among the wintering
partners were Peter Pond, the American of Atha-
basca fame, the McGillivrays, nephews of McTavish;
the MacLeods, the Grants, the Camerons, Mac-
intoshes, Shaws, McDonalds, Finlays, Frasers, and
Henry, nephew of the Henry who first went to
Michilimackinac.

Not only did the new company forthwith send
ninety canoes to the North by way of Lake Superior,
but one hundred and twenty men were sent throu^
Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to Detroit, for the fur
region between Lake Huron and the Mississippi.
It was at this period that the Canadian Government
was besieged for a monopoly of trade west of Lake
Superior, in return for which the Nor'Westers
promised to explore the entire region between the
Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean. When the
Government refused to grant the monopoly, the
Nor'Westers stopped asking for rights. They pre-
pared to take them.

In Montreal, the Nor'Westers were lords in the

ascendant, socially and financially, living with lavish

and regal hospitality, keeping one strong hand on

their interests in the West, the other hand on the

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pulse of the government. Some of the partners
were members of the Assembly. All were men of
public influence, and when a wintering partner re-
tired to live in Montreal, he usually became a mem-
ber of the governing clique. The Beaver Club with
the appropriate motto, "Fortitude in Distress," was
the partners' social rendezvous, and coveted were
the social honors of its exclusive membership. Gov-
ernors and councillors, military heroes and foreign
celebrities counted it an honor to be entertained at
the Beaver Club with its lavish table groaning under
weight of old wines from Europe and game from
the Pays (Ten HatU. "To discuss the merits of a
beaver tail, or moose nose, or bear's paw, or bu£Falo
hump" — ^was the way a Nor' West partner invited a
guest to dinner at the Beaver Club, and I would not
like to testify that the hearty partners did not turn
night into day and drink themselves under the
mahogany before they finished entertaining a guest.
Most lordly of the grandees was, of course, "the
Marquis," Simon McTavish, who built himself a
magnificent manor known as "the Haunted House,"
on the mountain. He did not live to enjoy it long,
for he died in 1804. Indeed, it was a matter of
comment how few of the ninety-six partners lived
to a good old age in possession of their hard-earned
wealth.

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"No wonder," sarcastically commented a good
bishop, who had been on the field and seen how the
wealth was earned, "when the devil sows the seed,
he usually looks after the harvest."

But it was not all plain sailing from the formation
of the Company. Pond and Pangman, the two
Boston men, who had been in the North when the
partnership was arranged, were not satisfied with
their shares. Pond was won over to the Nor'Westers,
but Pangman joined a smaller company with Greg-
ory, and MacLeod, and Alexander MacKenzie, and
Finlay. MacKenzie, who was to become famous
as a discoverer, was sent to Isle a la Crosse to inter-
cept furs on the way to Hudson Bay. Ross was
sent up to oppose Peter Pond of the Nor'Westers in
Athabasca. Bostonnais Pangman went up the Sas-
katchewan to the Rockies, with headquarters at
what is now Edmonton, and the rest of what were
known as the Little Company faithfully dogged the
Nor'Westers' footsteps and built a trading house
wherever Indians gathered.

Failing to establish a monopoly by law, the Nor'-
Westers set themselves to do it without law. The
Little Company must be exterminated. Because
Alexander MacKenzie later became one of the Nor'-
Westers, the details have never been given to the
public, but at La Crosse where he waited to barter

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The Corupiest of the Great Northwest

for the furs coming from the North to the Hudson's
Bay, the Nor'Westers camped on his trail. The
crisis in rivalry was to meet the approaching Indian
brigades. The trader that met them first, usually
got the furs. Spies were sent in all directions to
watch for the Indians, and spies dogged the steps of
spies. It was no unusual thing for one side to find
the Indians first and for a rival spy to steal the
victory by bludgeoning the discoverer into imcon-
sciousness or treating him to a drink of drugged
whiskey. In the scuffle and maneuver for the trade,
one of Alexander MacKenzie's partners was mur-
dered, another of his men lamed, a third narrowly
escaping death through the assassin's bullet being
stopped by a powderhom; but the point was —
MacKenzie got the furs for the Little Company.
The Nor'Westers were beaten.

Up at Athabasca, Pond, the Nor'Wester was op-
posed by Ross, the Little Company man. Heame,
of Hudson's Bay, had been to Athabasca first of all
explorers, but Pond was the first of the Montreal
men to reach the famous fur region of the North,
and he did not purpose seeing his labors filched away
by the Little Company. When Laroux brought the
Indians from Slave Lake to the Nor'Westers and
Ross attempted to approach them, there was a
scuffle. The Little Company leader fell pierced by

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a bullet from a revolver smoking in the hand of
Peter Pond. Did Pond shoot Ross? Was it acci-
dental? These questions can never be answered.
This was the second murder for which Pond was
responsible in the Athabasca, and ill-omened news
of it ran like wildfire south to Isle a la Crosse and
Portage de Traite where Alexander MacKenzie and
his cousin Roderick were encamped. Nor'Westers
and Little Company men alike were shocked. For
the Montreal men to fight among themselves meant
alienation of the Indians and victory for the Hud-
son's Bay. Roderick MacKenzie of the Little Com-
pany and William McGillivray of the Nor'Westers
decided to hasten down to Montreal with the sum-
mer brigades and urge a union of both organizations.
Locking canoes abreast, with crews singing in unison,
the rival leaders set out together, and the union was
effected in 1787 by the NorWesters increasing their
shares to admit all the partners of the Gregory and
MacKenzie concern. Pond sold his interests to the
MacGillivrays and retired to Boston.

The strongest financial, social and political inter-
ests of Eastern Canada were now centered in the
Northwest Company. There were ways of dis-
couraging independent merchants from sending
pedlars to the North. Boycott, social or financial,
the pulling of political strings that withheld a gov-

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The Conquest of the Great Northwest

eminent passport, a hint that if the merchant wanted
a hand in the trade it would be cheaper for him to
pool his interests with the Nor'Westers than risk a
$3,000 load on his own account — ^kept the field clear
or brought about absorption of all rivals till 1801.
Then a, Dominique Rousseau essayed an independ-
ent venture led by his clerk, Hervieux. Grand
Portage on Lake Superior was the halfway post
between Montreal and thp Pays (Pen Haul — the
metropolis of the Nor'Westers' domain. Here came
Hervieux's brigade and pitched camp some hundred
yards away from the Nor'West palisades. Hardly
had Hervieux landed when there marched across
to him three officers of the Northwest Company, led
by Dimcan McGillivray, who ordered the new-
comers to be off on pain of death, as all the land
here was* 'Northwest property. Hervieux stood his
ground stoutly as a British subject and demanded
proof th^ the country belonged to the Northwest
Company. To the Nor'Westers, such a demand
was high treason. McGillivray retorted he would
send proof enough. The partners withdrew, but
there sallied out of the fort a party of the famous
Northwest bullies — prize fighters kept in trim for
the work in hand. Drawing knives, they cut Herv-
ieux^s tents to shreds, scattered his merchandise to
the four winds and bedrubbed the little men, who

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tried to defend it, as if they had been so many school
boys.

"You demand our title to possession? You want
proofs that we hold this country? Eh? Bienl
Voilal There's proof! Take it; but if you dare
to go into the interior, there will be more than tents
cut! Look out for your throats/'

Totally ruined, Hervieux was compelled to go
back to Montreal, where his master in vain sued the
Nor'Westers. The Nor'Westers were not respon-
sible. It was plain as day: they had not ordered
those bullies to come out, and those bullies were a
matter of three thousand miles away and could not
be called as witnesses.

Determined not to be beaten, Rousseau attempted
a second venture in 1806, this time two canoes under
fearless fellows led by one Delorme, who knew the
route to the interior. He instructed Delorme to
avoid clashing with the Nor'Westers by skirting
round their headquarters on Lake Superior, if
necesssary by traveling at night till beyond de-
tection. Delorme was four days' march beyond
Lake Superior when Donald McKay, a Nor'Wester,
suddenly emerged from the underbrush leading a
dozen wood-rovers. Not a word was said. No
threats. No blustering. This was a no-man's-
land where there was no law and everyone could do

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as he liked. McKay liked to do a very odd thing
just at this juncture, just at this place. His bush-
lopers hurried on down stream in advance of De-
lorme's canoes and leveled a veritable barricade of
trees across the trail. Then they went to the rear
of Delorme and leveled another barricade. Delorme
didn't attempt to out-maneuver his rivals. At most
he had only sixteen men, and that kind of a game
meant a free fight and on one side or the other —
murder. He sold out both his cargoes to McKay
at prices current in Montreal, and retreated from the
fur country, leaving the sardonic Nor' Westers smiling
in triumph. These were some of the ways by which
the Nor'Westers dissuaded rivals from invading
the Pays d^en Haul. On their part, they probably
justified their course by arguing that rivalry would
at once lead to such murders as those in the Atha-
basca. In their secret councils, they well knew that
they were keeping small rivals from the field to be
free for the fight against the greatest rival of all —
the Hudson's Bay Company.

Footnote to Chapter XX. — ^The contents of this chapter are
taken primarily from the records of the Hudson's Bay House;
secondarily, from the Journals of the Nor'West partners as
published by Senator Masson, Prof. Coues, and others; also,
and most important, from such old missionary annals as those ■
of the Oblates and other missionaries like Abbe Dugas, Tass^, \
Grandin, Provencher and others. In the most of cases, the ]
missionary writer was not himself the actor (there are two ex- \
ceptions to this) but he was in direct contact with the living '

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actor and took his facts on the spot, so that his testimony is
even more non-partisan than the carefully edited Masson essay
and records. I consider these various missionary legendfiL-thfi-
most authfin|:ic source of the histQfV"-qf-tlTgperrott.-thotigrh their
eVidende is most damning to both sides. These annals are ex-
clusively published by Catholic organizations and so unfor-
tunately do not reach the big public of which they are deserving.

The exact way in which the N. W. C. was formed, I found
very involved in the Masson essay. A detailed account of all
steps in the organization is very plainly nven in the petitions
of the Frobisher Brothers, Peter Pond and McGill to Gov. Haldi-
mand for a monopoly of the fur trade. The petitions are in the
Canadian Archives. A curious fear is revealed in all these peti-
tions — ^that the Americans may reach and possess the Pacific
Coast first. As a matter of fact that is exactly what Grey and
Lewis and Clarke did in the Oregon reeion.

From the H. B. C. Archives I find the following data on this
era : Batts and Walker and Peter Fidler held the mouth of the
Saskatchewan for the English; one Goodwin worked south
from Albanv almost to Lake Superior and west to modem
Manitoba; naif a dozen French run-awavs from the N. W. C.
were engaged as spies at £ioo a year; the Martin Falls House
is built' inland from Albany in 1 782 ; in spite of ignominious
surrender, Heame and Humphrey Martin go back as Governors
of Churchill and York; Edward Umfreville leaves the H. B. C.
(wages £141) and joins the N. W. C; Martin and Heame, La
Feroixse's prisoners, were dropped at Stromness in November,
whether on the way to France or back from France, I can't tell;
their letters do not reach the H. B. C. till March, 1783 ; William
Paulson is surgeon at East Main; no dividends from 1782 to
1786; Joseph Colen succeeds Martin at York in '86; William



Auld succ^ds Heame at Churchill in *o6; James Hourie is
massacred by the Indians of East Main; H. B. C. servants from
the growing dangers become mutinous, six are fined at East
Main for mutiny; four at York fined -^4 each, namely Magnus
Tait, Alex. Gunn, John Irvine, Benj. Uruce, two at Churchill
£20 each, Robert Fexman and Henry Hodges. Andrew Gra-
ham, the old factor of Severn, being now destitute at Edinburgh
is given thirty guineas in 1801.



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CONTENTS OF VOLUME II

PART lll - {Continued)
CHAPTER XXI

PAOB

•'The Coming of the Pedlars" {continued) — ^VoyM^e up to
Fort Wmiam, Life of Wild-wood Wassail and Grandeur
There — How the Wintering Partners Exploited in the
Pays D'en Haut 3

CHAPTER XXII

"The Coming of the Pedlars" (c<>«/*ni<^dfV - Henry*8 Adven-
tures at Fembina— The First White Woman in the West
— A Stolen Child and a Poisoner and a Scout — How
Harmon Found a Wife — ^The Story of Marguerite Trot-
tier 26

CHAPTER XXIII

"The Coming of the Pedlars" {continued) — ^Thirty years of
Exploration — ^The Advance up the Saskatchewan to
Bow River and Howse Pass — The Building of Edmon-
ton — How MacKenzie Crossed the Pacific . . •47

CHAPTER XXIV

VThe Coming of the Pedlars" {continued) — MacKenzie and
McTavisn Quarrel — ^The Nor'westers Invade Hudson
Bay Waters and Challenge the Charter — Ruffianism of
Nor'westers — Murder and Boycott of Hudson's Bay
Men — Up-to-date Commercialism as Conducted in
Terms ot a Club and Without Law . • . .68

CHAPTER XXV

David Thompson, the Nor'wester, Dashes for the Coltmibia
— He Explores East Kootenay, but Finds Astor's Men
on the Field — How the Astorians are Jockeyed out of
Astoria — Fraser Finds His Way to the Sea by Another
Great River 81



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Contents



CHAPTER XXVI

PAQB

The Coming of the Colonists — Lord Selkirk Buys Control
of the H. B. C. — Simon M'GiUivray and MacKenzie
Plot to Defeat Him— Robertson Savs "Fight Fire with
Fire" and Selkirk Chooses a M'Donell Against a
M'Donell— The Colonists Come to Red River— Riot
and Plot and Mutiny . *. . . . .113

CHAPTER XXVII

The Coming of the Colonists (c<>«/»ni<^rf)-— MacDonell
Attempts to Carry Out the Rights of Feudalism on
Red River — Nor' westers Resent — ^The Colony De-
stroyed and Dispersed — Selkirk to the Rescue —
Lajimoniere's Long Voyage — Clarke in Athabasca . 141

CHAPTER XXVIII

The Coming of the Colonists {continued) — Governor Semple
and Twenty Colonists are Butchered at Seven Oak| —
Selkirk to the Rescue Captures Fort William a^d
Sweeps the Nor* westers from the Field — ^The Sufferlj^g
of the Settlers — At Last Selkirk Sees the Promised
Land at Red River ...... 166

CHAPTER XXIX

Both Companies Make a Dash to Capture Athabasca Whence
Came the Most Valuable Furs — Robertson Overland to
Montreal, Tried and Acquitted, Leads a Brigade to
Athabasca — He is Tricked by the Nor' westers, but
Tricks Them in Turn — The Union of the Companies —
Sir George Simpson, Governor . . . .202



PART IV

CHAPTER XXX

Reconstruction {continued) — Nicholas Garry, the Deputy
Governor, Comes Out to Reorganize the United Com-

Sanies — More Colonists from Switzerland — ^The Rocky
[ountain Brigades — Ross of Okanogan . . .235

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Contents



CHAPTER XXXI

PAQB

Journals of Peter Skene Ogden, Explorer and Fur Trader,
Over the Regions now Known as Washington, Oregon,
Califomia, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and Utah — He
Relieves Ashley's Men of 10,000 Beaver — He Finds
Nevada — He Discovers Mt. Shasta — He Tricks the
Americans at Salt Lake ...... 261



CHAPTER XXXII

McLoughlin's Transmontane Empire (continued) — Douglas'
Adventures in New Caledonia, How He Ptmishes Mur-
der and is Himself Almost Murdered — Little Yale of
the Lower Eraser — Black's Death at Kamloops — How
Tod Outwits Conspiracy — The Company's Operations
in California and Sandwich Islands and Alaska — Why
did Rae Kill Himself in San Francisco ?— The Secret
Diplomacy ........ 304



CHAPTER XXXIII

The Passing of the Company — ^The Coming of the Colonists
to Oregon — ^The Founding of Victoria North of the
Boundary— Why the H. B. C. Gave Up Oregon^Mis-
rule of Vancouver Island — McLoughlin s Retirement . 35a



CHAPTER XXXIV
The Passing of the Company 387



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PART III— Continued



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THE CONQUEST OF
THE GREAT NORTHWEST



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THE CONQUEST OF
THE GREAT NORTHWEST

CHAPTER XXI

1760-1810

•'the coming of the. pedlars" continued —
voyage up to fort william, life of wild-
wood wassail and grandeur there— how
the wintering partners exploited the
northwest— tales of the winterers in the

PAYS D'EN HAUT

IT WAS no easier for the Nor'Westers to obtain
recruits than for the Hudson's Bay Com-
pany. French habitants were no more anx-
ious to have their heads broken in other men's
quarrels than the Orkneymen of the Old Country;
but the Nor'Westers managed better than the Hud-
son's Bay. Brigades were made up as the ice cleared
from the rivers in May. For weeks before, the
Nor'Westers had been craftily at work. No agents
were sent to the country parishes with clumsy ofiFers

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of £?i bounty, which would be, of itself, acknowledg-
ment of danger. Companies don't pay £i bounty
for nothing. Not agents were sent to the parishes, '
but "sly old wolves of the North" — ^as one parish
priest calls these demoralizers of his flock — ^went
from village to village, gay, reckless, daredevil
veterans, old in service, young in years, clothed in all
the picturesque glory of beaded buckskin, plumed
hats, silk sashes, to tickle the vanity of the poor
country bucks, who had never been beyond their
own hamlet. Cocks of the walk, bullies of the town,
slinging money around like dust, spinning yams
marvelous of fortune made at one coup, of adven-
tures in which they had been the heroes, of freedom
7— freedom like kings to rule over the Indian tribes —
these returned voyageurs lounged in the taverns,
played the gallants at all the hillside dances, flirted
with the daughters, made presents to the mothers,
and gave to the youth of the parish what the priest
describes as "dizziness of the head." It needed
only a little maneuvering for our "sly wolves of the
North" to get themselves lionized, the heroes of
the parish. Dances were given in their honor. The
contagion invaded even the sacred fold of the church.
The "sons of Satan" maneuvered so well that the
holy festivals even seemed to revolve round their
person as round a sim of glory. The cur6 might

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^^The Coming of the Pedlars^^

preach himself black in the face proving that a
camp on the sand and a bed h la belle itoile^ imder
the stars, are much more poetic in the telling than
in life; that voyageurs don't pass all their lives
clothed in picturesque costumes chanting ditties to
the rhythmic dip of paddle blades; that, in fact,
when your voyageur sets out in spring he passes half
his time in ice water to mid-waist tracking canoes
up rapids, and that where the portage is rocky glassed
with ice, you can follow the sorry fellow's path by
blood from the cuts in his feet.

What did the cur6 know about it? There was
proof to the contrary in the gay blade before their
eyes, and the green country bucks expressed timid
wish that they, too, might lead such a Ufe. Presto!
No sooner said than done! My hero from the North
jerks a written contract all ready for the signature of
names and slaps down half the wages in advance
before the dazzled greenhorns have time to retract.
From now till the brigades depart our green recruit
busies himself playing the hero before he has won
his spurs. He dons the gay vesture and he dons
the grand air and he passes the interval in a glorious
oblivion of all regrets drowned in potions at the
parish inn; but it is our drummer's business to
round up the recruits at Montreal, which he does
as swiftly as they sober up. And they usually sober

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up to find that all the advance wages have melted in
the public house. No drawing back now, though
the rosy hopes have faded drab! A hint at such a
thought brings down on the poltroon's head threats
of instant imprisonment — a fine ending, indeed, to
all the brag and the boast and the brass-band flourish
with which our runaway has left his native parish.
Crews and canoes assemble above Lachine, nine
miles from Montreal, ninety or one hundred canoes
with eight men to each, including steersman, and a
pilot to each ten canoes. Thirty or forty guides
there will, perhaps, be to the yearly brigade — ^men
who lead the way and prevent waste of time by fol-
lowing wrong water courses. And it is a picturesque
enough scene to stir the dullest blood, spite of all
the curb's warning. Voyageurs and hunters are
dressed in buckskin with gayest of silk bands round
hair and neck. Partners are pompous in ruffles and
lace and gold braid, with brass-handled pistols and
daggers in belt. In each canoe go the cargoes — two-
thirds merchandise, one-third provisions — oilcloth
to cover it, tarpaulin for a tent, tow lines, bark and
gum for repairs, kettles, dippers and big sponges to
bail out water. As the canoes are loaded, they are
launched and circle about on the river waiting for
the signal of the head steersman. The chief steers-
man's steel-shod pole is held overhead. It drops —



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