A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 4, part 2: John Tyler online

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this as the body of water seen to the northwest of the termination
of the exploring meridian line. The guide appeared to confirm this
impression, and held out inducements that led to the belief that he was
acquainted with the portage in question. The nearer, however, it was
approached the less seemed to be his confidence. When there appeared
to be some reason to doubt his competency or his will, a place in the
river was reached where it divided into two branches of nearly equal
magnitude. On inquiry from the guide it was ascertained that the
easternmost of these was the main Metis, the other the Mistigougeche
(Riviere au Foin). Although the latter appeared to be the most direct
course to the boundary, it was still believed, and nothing could be
learned from him to the contrary, that the former led to the termination
of the exploring meridian line. The party of Dr. Goodrich had gone up
the Metis, and it was necessary to communicate with it before any change
in plan could be made. The commissioner therefore entered the main
Metis, and in the evening overtook the surveyors, who had been unable
to keep the survey up with the progress of the boats. An express was
therefore sent forward to stop the boats, and, the party encamping,
astronomic observations were made for the solution of the difficulty in
which it appeared to be enveloped. A detachment was also sent out to
explore to the eastward of the Metis. This reached the Lake of the
Little Red River, and from its banks took bearings to what appeared to
be the greatest mountain of the country. This is known by the name of
Paganet, and lies to the southwest of Lake Matapediac, forming a part of
the highlands which are so obviously described as the boundary of the
Province of Quebec in the proclamation of 1763. Its height was reported
to be probably 3,000 feet, but as it has appeared in the course of the
survey that heights in that region may easily be overestimated, it
can not be safely taken at more than 2,500 feet. The result of the
astronomic observations seemed to show that the main stream would lead
too far to the eastward, and after mature deliberation it was resolved
that the course should be retraced and the Mistigougeche ascended. The
first part of the operation was attended with little delay. Half an hour
sufficed for reaching the forks, whence the party had been six hours in
mounting. The guide also stated that the Mistigougeche was a much less
difficult stream than Metis. Of the comparative facility, except for a
few miles of the latter, no opportunity for judging was obtained; but
these were so difficult as to confirm his statement. On the other hand,
the former was found to be much worse than it had been represented by
him. His knowledge, in fact, was limited to its state in winter, for
it appeared from a subsequent interview with Captain Broughton to be
doubtful whether he had served in the employ of that officer; and it can
be well imagined that the river when locked up in ice should present
an aspect of far less rapidity than when rushing with its springtide
violence. The Mistigougeche was found to be intercepted by a fall of a
few feet, which could not be passed by the boats when loaded, although
the Penobscot men boldly and successfully carried theirs up when empty,
in which feat they were imitated by the voyageurs, who had at first
deemed it impossible. The loads of the boats were carried over a
portage, and in this operation the chronometers were found to deviate
from each other, showing a manifest change of rate in some or all of
them. This may be ascribed to a change in the mode of transportation,
but was more than could be reasonably anticipated, considering the
shortness of the portage (2,000 yards) and the great care that was taken
in conveying them. At some distance above the falls a lake of moderate
size was reached, embosomed in hills and embarrassed at its upper end
with grass. From the last feature it was ascertained that both lake and
river take their epithet of Grassy (Riviere an Foin, and, in Indian,
of Mistigougeche, or Grassy Lake). At this lake the party of the
commissioner was in advance of the loaded boats. A halt was therefore
made and a party sent out to explore to the westward. This party reached
an eminence whence a lake was seen, which the guide stated to be the
head of a branch of the Rimouski, far distant, as he averred, from any
waters of the Restigouche. Subsequent examination has shown that this
party had actually reached the height of land and that the survey of the
boundary might have been advantageously commenced from this point.

On leaving the lake the river was found to have a gentle current for a
few miles. It was then interrupted by a bed of timber, after passing
which it became as rapid as ever. In a short time, however, a noble
sheet of water was reached, surrounded by lofty hills, and of great
depth. At the upper end of this a place was chosen for a stationary
camp, and preparations were made for proceeding to the land survey.
While these were going forward with as much dispatch as possible, Mr.
Lally, one of the first assistants, was detached to reconnoiter the
inlet of the lake. During his absence observations were taken and the
rates of the chronometers worked up. Of the four instruments with which
the expedition was furnished, two had varied from the other two on
the portage. All were of good reputation, and no means existed of
determining on which pair reliance could be placed. From the rates
of two of them it appeared that the camp was situated 12 miles to the
northwest of the tree chosen by the American surveyors in 1818 as
marking the northwest angle of Nova Scotia. Actual survey has shown that
the distance is about 10 miles. The result given by the chronometers was
speedily confirmed by the return of Mr. Lally, who reported that he had
actually reached the marked tree, well known to him by his visit to it
the year before, and that he had pursued for a couple of miles the line
cut out subsequently by Captain Broughton.

6. The preparations being completed, Messrs. H.B. Renwick and Lally were
sent out, each at the head of a sufficient party, with instructions to
proceed together to the west until they reached waters running to the
Restigouche and then to divide, Mr. Lally proceeding to the northwest
angle and Mr. Renwick toward Rimouski. Each was directed to pursue as
far as possible the height of land and to remain in the field as long
as the supplies which the men could carry would permit. They were also
ordered to mark their path in order to insure a safe return, as well as
all the stations of their barometric observations. Bach of the laborers
was loaded with 56 pounds besides his own baggage and ax, and the
engineers and surveyors carried their own baggage and instruments. The
commissioner, with one assistant, remained in the stationary camp for
the purpose of determining the longitude accurately and of making
corresponding barometric observations.

7. In this place it will be proper to state that the lake which was thus
reached was ascertained with certainty to be that seen by the surveyors
of the joint commission in 1818, and which was by them supposed to be
Lake Metis. As it has no name yet assigned to it, it has been called
upon our maps Lake Johnson, in honor of the American surveyor by whom it
was first visited. It is 1,007 feet above the level of the sea, being
more than twice as much as the total fall assigned to the waters of the
Metis in the report of Messrs. Mudge and Featherstonhaugh. So great an
elevation in so short a course is sufficient to account for the great
rapidity of the stream. To illustrate this rapidity in an obvious
manner, the birch canoes, which on the waters of the St. John are easily
managed by one man, are never intrusted on those of the Metis to less
than two. Our departure from Metis in boats so deeply loaded, as was
afterwards learned, was considered there as a desperate attempt, and
although but one of them sustained injury, this is to be ascribed to the
great skill of the boatmen; and to show the velocity of the stream in a
still stronger light, it is to be recollected that, after deducting the
loss of time on the Metis, nine days of incessant labor were spent in
taking up the loaded boats, while the assistant commissary whom it
became necessary to send to Metis left the stationary camp at 2 o'clock
in the morning of the 28th July and reached the mouth of the river
before sunset of the same day, after making two portages, one of 2,000
yards and the other of 2 miles.

8. The first day of the operations of Messrs. H.B. Renwick and Lally was
attended with an accident which had an injurious effect. The surveyor of
Mr. Lally's party, Mr. W.G. Waller, fell from a tree laid as a bridge
across a stream and lamed himself to such a degree as to be incapable
either of proceeding with the party or of returning to the stationary
camp. It became necessary, therefore, to leave him, with a man to attend
him, in the woods, and it was a week before he was sufficiently
recovered to be able to walk. Intelligence was immediately sent to the
commissioner, by whom the assistant he had retained in camp to aid in
astronomic observations was sent to take the place of the surveyor. Two
days were thus lost, and the intended astronomic observations were far
less numerous than they might have been with the aid of a competent

The two parties, proceeding together, reached Katawamkedgwick Lake. That
under the direction of Mr. H.B. Renwick immediately crossed it, while
that of Mr. Lally proceeded along the eastern bank for the purpose of
reaching the source of the stream. This being attained, the party of
Mr. L. pursued the height of land as nearly as possible and reached the
exploring meridian line. Crossing this, some progress was made to the
eastward, when a failure of provisions compelled a return to camp. The
party of Mr. H.B. Renwick, proceeding until the Rimouski was seen,
turned to the south and finally reached the southeasterly source of that
river, a point probably never before pressed by human foot, for it was
found to consist in a series of beaver ponds, in which that animal was
residing in communities and without any appearance of having been ever
disturbed. The low state of provisions in this instance also called the
party back, but not before every anticipated result had been obtained.

9. The party of Mr. H.B. Renwick having returned first, immediate
preparations were made for descending the stream. Before they were
completed Mr. Lally also came in, and both were assembled at Metis on
the 14th, whence the commissioner set out instantly for the river Du
Loup, which had been chosen as the base of further operations.

The circumstances of the operations up the Metis and Metis and
Mistigougeche had been upon the whole favorable. With the exception of
a single thundershower, no rain had been experienced; the country was
still sufficiently moist to insure a supply of water even upon the
ridges. The sun was observed daily for time and latitude, and the nights
admitted of observations of the pole star for latitude at almost every
camp. At the stationary camp, however, the mists rising from the lake
obscured the horizon and rendered the eclipses of Jupiter's satellites
invisible; nor was it possible to observe the only occultation of a star
which calculation rendered probable during the period in question. Much,
however, had been accomplished. A river little known had been carefully
surveyed some miles beyond its junction with a branch unheard of by
geographers. This branch had been explored, its course and length
determined; a path nearly coinciding with the boundary line for an
extent of 86 miles had been measured and leveled, and regions before
unseen visited. One accident of a serious character had occurred, and
one of the laboring men, although an _homme du nord_, seasoned in the
service of the Hudsons Bay Company, had been rendered unfit by fatigue
for further duty in the service; but with these exceptions the health
and strength of the party were unimpaired. All augured well for a speedy
and successful completion of the task in a manner as perfect as had been

10. Instructions had been transmitted to the commissary, as soon as it
was found that a portage to Katawamkedgwick and thence to Rimouski was
impracticable, to have a vessel ready at Metis to transport the stores
to the river Du Loup. One was in consequence chartered, but, being
neaped in the harbor of Rimouski, did not reach Metis till the 19th
August. When loaded, her sailing was delayed by an unfavorable wind, and
its continuance prevented her from reaching the river Du Loup before the
29th August. An entire week of very favorable weather was thus lost for
field operations, and it was not even possible to employ it to advantage
in observations, as all the chronometers but one and the larger
instruments, in order to expose them as little as possible to change of
rate or injury, had been forwarded from Metis in the vessel. With the
one chronometer and the reflecting repeating circle numerous
observations were, however, made for the latitude of the river Du Loup.

11. During the time the main body was engaged in ascending the Metis
and in the other operations which have been mentioned an engineer was
directed to proceed from Metis along the Kempt road for the purpose of
exploring along the dividing ridge between the waters of the Bay of
Chaleurs in the vicinity of Lake Matapediac and the St. Lawrence. This
line forms the continuation of that claimed by the United States, and
is important in its connection with the proclamation of 1763; but as it
falls without the ground which is the subject of dispute, it was not
considered necessary to survey it. The heights which could be reached
were therefore measured with the barometer, and the position of the
points at which the observations were taken referred to existing maps
without any attempt to correct their errors.

In the course of this reconnoissance an eminence 1,743 feet in height,
lying to the southeast of Lake Matapediac, was ascended. Thence was had
the view of a wide, open valley extending toward the southeast to the
Bay of Chaleurs and bounded on the northeast and southwest by highlands.
The former were pointed out by the guide as the Chic Choc Mountains, in
the district of Gaspe; the latter, it appeared beyond question, extended
to the Bay of Chaleurs, and strike it below the Matapediac. At the
latter place a party detached down the Restigouche in 1840 had measured
the height of Ben Lomond, a highland rising abruptly from the western
termination of the Bay of Chaleurs. and found it to be 1,024 feet. Thus
it appears beyond the possibility of doubt that a chain of eminences
well entitled to the name of highlands, both as dividing waters and
rising to the character of mountains, depart from "_the northern shore
of the Bay of Chaleurs at its western extremity_," bound the valley of
the Matapediac to the northeast, and, bending around the lake of that
name, separate its waters from those of the Metis. These are deeply cut
by valleys, whose direction appears from the map of the reconnoissance
and from the course of the tributary streams which occupy their lines
of maximum slope to run from southwest to northeast, or at right angles
to the general course of the highlands themselves. These highlands are
obviously those defined in the proclamation of 1763 and the commission
of Governor Wilmot.

12. As soon as the necessary instruments arrived from Metis at the river
Du Loup a party was detached to survey the Temiscouata portage, a line
known to be of great importance to the subsequent operations, but whose
interest has been increased from the unexpected frequency with which the
line dividing the waters touches or crosses it. Stores for a month's
service were transported with all possible dispatch to Lake Temiscouata,
along with the boats and camp equipage.

Two separate parties were now formed, the one to proceed up Temiscouata
Lake, the other to ascend the Tuladi. The embarkation of both was
completed at noon on the 4th September.

13. Mr. H.B. Renwick, with the party under his command, was directed
if possible to ascend the middle or main branch of Tuladi and form a
stationary camp at the highest point of that stream which could be
reached by boats.

Mr. Lally had orders to enter and follow the river Asherbish, which
enters Lake Temiscouata at its head, until the progress of his boats
should be interrupted. The first party was directed to operate in the
first place toward the west, the second toward the east, upon the height
of land until they should meet each other's marks. The party of Mr. H.B.
Renwick was directed, therefore, to proceed from the head of Tuladi and
reach if possible the head of Rimouski, thus forming a connection with
the line explored from the head of Mistigougeche; that of Mr. Lally to
proceed from the head of Asherbish along the height of land to the
Temiscouata portage. The commissary was then moved up with a large
amount of stores and halted on the summit of Mount Biort, to be within
reach of both the parties in case of a demand for new supplies, and to
receive them on their return.

14. The party of Mr. H.B. Renwick, having passed through Tuladi Lake,
entered the main stream of that name on the 5th September. The head of
it had been seen by that gentleman in September, 1840, and held out the
promise of abundance of water for navigation. This promise did not
fail, but it was found that the stream had probably never before been
ascended, and was therefore embarrassed with driftwood. After cutting
through several rafts with great labor, a place was reached where the
stream spread out to a great width over beds of gravel, and all further
progress in boats became impossible. It was therefore determined to fall
down the stream and ascend the western branch, well known under the
name of Abagusquash, and which had been fully explored in 1840. The
resolution to return was taken on the 6th, and on the evening of the
9th the beaver pond at the head of Abagusquash was reached; here a
stationary camp was established. One of the men had wounded himself with
an ax and three more were so ill as to be unfit for service. The numbers
were yet sufficient for short expeditions, and one was immediately
fitted out for the head of Tuladi with provisions to form a cache for
future operations. This expedition explored so much of the height of
land as would otherwise have been thrown out of the regular order in
consequence of the failure to ascend the main branch of Tuladi.

15. In the meantime Mr. Lally proceeded up Lake Temiscouata and entered
the Asherbish. This stream was also found very difficult, and on the
evening of the 7th no more than 7 miles had been accomplished on it.
At this point a stationary camp was fixed and a detachment sent out to
explore the neighborhood. On the 10th Mr. Lally set out to the eastward,
and struck the lower end of Abagusquash Lake on the afternoon of the
11th September. Being obviously too far to the south, he ascended that
stream and reached H.B. Renwick's camp on the evening of the 12th.
The next morning he proceeded to the height of land, and after twice
crossing it reached his stationary camp on Asherbish at noon on the
21st September.

On this expedition two out of three barometers were broken, and an
assistant was therefore sent to seek a fresh supply from the stores.

16. The expedition sent out by H.B. Renwick to the head of the Tuladi
returned on the 13th September. One of the men came in severely wounded,
and those left sick and wounded in camp were still unfit for service;
others also were taken sick. Of the laborers of the party, one-half were
thus lost for the present to the service. The engineer in command,
who had finished the observations for which he had remained in the
stationary camp, determined, therefore, to proceed to Mount Biort in
order to obtain men. Previous to his departure on the 15th September he
fitted out a second expedition with all the disposable strength for the
purpose of operating between the head of Tuladi and the point in the
height of land where Mr. Lally's line diverged to the southwest. The
newly engaged hands and the detachment on its return both reached the
camp on the Abagusquash on the 19th of September. On the 21st, all
arrangements having been completed, Mr. H.B. Renwick, leaving the
assistant commissary with only one man in the stationary camp, set off
toward the head of Rimouski. This course was pursued for six days, when
it became necessary to return for want of provisions, and the stationary
camp was reached on the 2d October. On this expedition the line of
exploration made in June up the Rimouski was intersected and the ground
traversed in July and August seen and connected with the survey, but
it was found impossible to penetrate along the height of land on the
western side of Rimouski to its head. On reaching the camp snow began
to fall, and the thermometer marked 18° in the morning. All further
operations for the season in this direction were therefore at an end.
A portion of the line which divides the waters falling into the St.
John from those falling into the St. Lawrence remained in consequence
unsurveyed. It can not, however, be said to be absolutely unexplored,
for it was seen from the eastern side of Rimouski, presenting the
appearance of a range of hills at least as elevated as any on the

18. Mr. Lally having received a fresh supply of barometers on the
evening of the 23d, resumed his survey of the height of land on the 25th
September, and reached the camp of the commissary on Mount Biort on the
2d October, having surveyed and leveled the intermediate dividing ridge.
The party of H.B. Renwick descended the Abagusquash and Tuladi, and,
crossing Lake Temiscouata, reached the same rendezvous on the 5th
October. The interval was spent by Mr. Lally's party in clearing a space
for a panoramic view on the summit of Mount Biort.

19. The commissioner, having superintended in person the equipment and
embarkation of the parties of Messrs. H.B. Renwick and Lally on Lake
Temiscouata, returned to the river Du Loup for the purpose of making
astronomic observations. These being completed, he visited and conferred
with the parties of his colleague, A. Talcott, esq., on their way to the
height of land southeast of Kamouraska. Here he made arrangements for
the junction of the two lines on the Temiscouata portage. He then
proceeded to the camp of the commissary on Mount Biort, and there made
provision for the completion of the residue of the line in the vicinity
of the portage. He also selected points of view for the use of the
daguerreotype and camera lucida, and, being unable to do any more on the
ground for the furtherance of the objects of his appointment, returned
to New York, taking with him the earlier records of the field operations
for the purpose of organizing the office work.

20. Under the direction of Mr. H.B. Renwick, a party led by Mr. Lally
set off from Mount Biort on the 7th October, and, proceeding westward
along the portage road to the ridge of Mount Paradis, turned to the
south along the dividing ridge. This being pursued led them back to the
portage at a point about 21-1/2 miles from the river Du Loup on the
10th. The dividing ridge was now found for some distance to coincide
nearly with the portage road and to pass over the summit of the Grande
Fourche Mountain, a fact which had not before been suspected. The source
of the Grande Fourche of Trois Pistoles having been headed, the party
reached a station which the commissary had now established at the river
St. Francis on the 13th October. Departing from this, the basin of the
St. Francis to the north of the portage road was explored, and the
survey finished on the 17th October.

Operating from the St. Lawrence as a base, and within reach of a
cultivated country, whence numerous roads are cut to the height of
land, it would have been possible to have kept the field for perhaps a
fortnight longer. The plans and estimates of the division had been made
with this view, and it was anticipated that the height of land might
have been surveyed 30 miles to the south of the Temiscouata portage.
Although this would have been practicable, it would have been a service
of hardship. The necessity for this was obviated by the progress of the
parties of A. Talcott, esq., which completed their surveys up to the
portage on the same day that the surveys of this division were finished.

Online LibraryUnknownA Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 4, part 2: John Tyler → online text (page 29 of 45)