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Notes of a Twenty-Five Years' Service in the Hudson's Bay Territory - Volume II. (of 2)
by John M'lean
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The caution of Mr. E. was completely lulled asleep by the apparent kindness of the Governor, and the hearty warmth with which he seemed to enter into his views. Sir George proposed that the Missionaries should hold the same rank and receive the same allowance as the wintering partners, or commissioned officers; and that canoes, or other means of conveyance, should be furnished to the Missionaries for their expeditions; nor did it seem unreasonable to stipulate that in return for these substantial benefits, they should say or do nothing prejudicial to the Company's interests either among the natives, or in their Reports to the Conference in England, to whose jurisdiction the Mission was transferred. The great evil of this arrangement was, that the Missionaries, from being the servants of God, accountable to Him alone, became the servants of the Hudson's Bay Company, dependent on, and amenable to them; and the Committee were of course to be the sole judges of what was, or was not, prejudicial to their interests. Still, it is impossible to blame very severely either Mr. E. or the Conference for accepting offers apparently so advantageous, or even for consenting to certain restrictions in publishing their Reports:—with the assistance and co-operation of the Company great good might be effected;—with the hostility of a Corporation all but omnipotent within its own domain, and among the Indians, the post might not be tenable.

For some time matters went on smoothly: by the indefatigable exertions of Mr. E. and his fellow-workers, aided also by Mrs. E., who devoted much of her time and labour to the instruction of the females, a great reformation was effected in the habits and morals of the Indians. But Mr. Evans soon perceived that without books printed in the Indian language, little permanent good would be realized: he therefore wrote to the London Conference to send him a printing press and types, with characters of a simple phonetic kind, which he himself had invented, and of which he gave them a copy. The press was procured without delay, but was detained in London by the Governor and Committee; and though they were again and again petitioned to forward it, they flatly refused. Mr. E., however, was not a man to be turned aside from his purpose. With his characteristic energy he set to work, and having invented an alphabet of a more simple kind, he with his penknife cut the types, and formed the letters from musket bullets; he constructed a rude sort of press; and aided by Mrs. E. as compositor, he at length succeeded in printing prayers, and hymns, and passages of Scripture for the use of the Indians. Finding their object in detaining the press thus baffled, the Governor and Committee deemed it expedient to forward it; but with the express stipulation, that every thing printed should be sent to the commander of the post as censor, before it was published among the Indians. This was among the first causes of distrust and dissatisfaction.

Another source of dissatisfaction was Mr. E.'s faithfulness in regard to the observance of the sabbath. As the Indians became more enlightened they ceased to hunt and fish, and even to carry home game on the sabbath day; and, as a matter of course, they would no longer work for the Company on that day. But Mr. E. was guilty of equal faithfulness in remonstrating with those gentlemen in the service with whom he was on terms of intimacy in regard to this point of the Divine law; and several gentlemen, convinced by his arguments, determined to cease from working and travelling on the sabbath.

One of them, Mr. C——l, while on a distant expedition, acted in accordance with his convictions, and rested on the sabbath. The voyage turned out unusually stormy, and the water in the rivers was low, so that it occupied several days longer than it had formerly done; and the loss of time, which was really owing to the adverse weather, was charged on his keeping of the sabbath. From that day forth, the encouragement given to the Missionaries began to be withdrawn; obstacles were thrown in their way, and although nothing was openly done to injure the Missions already in operation, it would seem that it was determined that, if the Company could prevent it, no new stations should be occupied—at least by Protestant Missionaries.

Not long after, Mr. E., finding that the Missions he had hitherto superintended were in such a state of progress that he might safely leave them to the care of his fellow-labourers, resolved to proceed to Athabasca and establish a mission there. Having gone, as usual, to the Commander of the post to obtain the necessary provisions, and a canoe and boatmen, he was received with unusual coldness. He asked provisions,—none could be given; he offered to purchase them,—the commander refused to sell him any. He begged a canoe,—it was denied him; and finally, when he intreated that, if he should be able to procure those necessaries elsewhere, he might at least be allowed a couple of men to assist him on the voyage, he was answered that none would be allowed to go on that service. Deeply grieved, but nothing daunted, Mr. E. procured those necessaries from private resources, and proceeded on his voyage. But a sad calamity put a stop to it; in handing his gun to the interpreter it accidentally went off, and the charge lodging in his breast killed him instantaneously. He was thus compelled to return, in a state of mind bordering on distraction.

Mr. E.'s zeal and piety promised the best results to the spiritual and eternal interests of his Indian brethren. His talents, energy, and fertility of resource, which seemed to rise with every obstacle, had the happiest effects on their temporal well-being; and his mild and winning manners greatly endeared him to all the Indians. But his useful and honourable career was drawing to a close. The mournful accident already alluded to had affected his health, and he now received his deathblow.

Yet, obnoxious as he had become to the Company, and formidable to their interests as they might deem one of his talents and indomitable resolution to be, the blow was not struck by them. It was dealt by a false brother; by one who had eaten of his bread: by a "familiar friend, with whom he had taken sweet counsel." Charges affecting his character, both as a man and a minister, of the foulest and blackest kind, were transmitted to the Conference by a brother Missionary. To answer these charges, as false as they were foul, he was compelled to leave the churches he had planted and watered, to bid adieu to the people whose salvation had been for years the sole object of his life, and to undertake a voyage of 5,000 miles to appear before his brethren as a criminal. As a criminal, indeed, he was received; yet after an investigation, begun and carried on in no very friendly spirit to him, truth prevailed. He was declared innocent, and the right hand of fellowship was again extended to him. He made a short tour through England, and was everywhere received with respect, and affection, and sympathy.

But anxiety, and grief, and shame had done their work. Scarce three weeks had elapsed, when, having spent the evening along with Mrs. E. in the family of a friend, whose guest he was, with some of his wonted cheerfulness, Mrs. E. having retired but a few minutes, she was summoned to the room where she had left him in time to see him pass into that land where "the wicked cease from troubling." The cause of his death was an affection of the heart. And that man—the slanderer—the murderer of this martyred Missionary—what punishment was inflicted on him? He is to this day unpunished! and yet lives in the Hudson's Bay territory, the disgrace and opprobrium of his profession and his church.

Such are a few facts connected with the establishment of the Wesleyan Mission in the Hudson's Bay territory, and illustrative of the sort of encouragement given by the Committee to Protestant Missionaries. By way of rider to these, I may just remind the reader that Roman Catholic Missionaries have since been freely permitted to plant churches wherever they pleased, even in districts where Protestant Missions were already established.

After all, this is not much to be wondered at, since Sir G. Simpson openly avowed to Mr. Evans his preference of Roman Catholic Missionaries; one reason for this preference being, that these never interfered with the Company's servants, nor troubled them with any precise or puritanical notions about the moral law.



CHAPTER XXI.

SKETCH OF RED RIVER SETTLEMENT.

RED RIVER—SOILS—CLIMATE—PRODUCTIONS—SETTLEMENT OF RED RIVER, THROUGH LORD SELKIRK, BY HIGHLANDERS—COLLISION BETWEEN THE NORTH-WEST AND HUDSON'S BAY COMPANIES—INUNDATION—ITS EFFECTS—FRENCH HALF-BREEDS—BUFFALO-HUNTING—ENGLISH HALF-BREEDS—INDIANS—CHURCHES—SCHOOLS—STORES—MARKET FOR PRODUCE—COMMUNICATION BY LAKES.

Red River rises in swamps and small lakes in the distant plains of the south; and after receiving a number of tributary streams that serve to fertilize and beautify as fine a tract of land as the world possesses, discharges itself into the eastern extremity of Lake Winnipeg in lat. 50 deg.. The climate is much the same as in the midland districts of Canada; the river is generally frozen across about the beginning of November, and open about the beginning of April. The soil along the banks of the river is of the richest vegetable mould, and of so great a depth that crops of wheat are produced for several years without the application of manure. The banks produce oak, elm, maple, and ash; the woods extend rather more than a mile inland. The farms of the first settlers are now nearly clear of wood; an open plain succeeds of from four to six miles in breadth, affording excellent pasture. Woods and plains alternate afterwards until you reach the boundless prairie. The woods produce a variety of delicious fruits, delighting the eye and gratifying the taste of the inhabitants; cherries, plums, gooseberries, currants, grapes, and sasgatum berries in great abundance. Coal has been discovered in several places, and also salt springs.

Lord Selkirk having been made acquainted with the natural advantages of this favoured country by his North-West hosts in Montreal, determined forthwith on adopting such measures as might ensure to himself and heirs the possession of it for ever. Accordingly, on his return to England, he purchased Hudson's Bay Company's stock to an amount that enabled him to control the decisions of the Committee; and thus, covered by the shield of the charter, he could carry on his premeditated schemes of aggression against the North-West Company, with some appearance of justice on his side.

With the view of carrying out these schemes, he proceeded to the North of Scotland, and prevailed on a body of Highlanders to emigrate to Red River. To induce them to quit their native land, the most flattering prospects were held out to them; the moment they set their foot in this land of promise, the hardships and privations to which they had hitherto been subject, would disappear; the poor man would exchange his "potato patch" for a fine estate; the gentleman would become a ruler and a judge in—Assineboine! Who could doubt the fulfilment of the promises of a British peer? His Lordship, therefore, soon collected the required number of emigrants—for the Highlander of the present day gladly embraces any opportunity of quitting a country that no longer affords him bread.

At the period in question, Red River district furnished the principal part of the provisions required by the North-West Company, and was a wilderness, inhabited only by wandering Indians, and abounding in the larger animals—elk and rein-deer in the woods, and buffalo in the plains.

As Red River flows into Lake Winnipeg, which discharges itself by Neilson's river into Hudson's Bay, and could therefore be included within the territory granted by the charter, our noble trader concluded that, by taking formal possession of the country, he would obtain the right of expelling other adventurers, merely by warning them off the Company's grounds; and that, if the warning were disregarded, he could claim the aid of Government to enforce his rights, and thus ruin the North-West Company at a blow. His Lordship's Governor was therefore instructed to issue a proclamation, prohibiting the North-West Company by name, and all others, from carrying on any species of trade within Red River district, and ordering such establishments as had been formed to be abandoned.

The North-Westers read the proclamation, and—prosecuted their business as before. In such circumstances quarrels were unavoidable, but they were generally settled with ink; a collision ultimately took place that led to the shedding of blood. The North-Westers had collected a large supply of provisions at their depot, and were about to forward it to the place of embarkation, when they were informed—falsely, as it afterwards appeared,—that the Governor intended to waylay and seize the provisions. A report, equally false, was brought to the Governor, that the North-Westers had assembled a strong force of half-breeds to attack the fort. These lying rumours led to an unhappy catastrophe.

The Governor sent out scouts to watch the North-West party; and ascertaining that they were on their march with an unusual force,—which they had brought in order to repel the attack which they supposed was to be made upon them,—he seized his arms, and marched with his whole party to meet them. The North-Westers seeing them approach, halted, and standing to their arms, sent forward one of their number to demand whether Mr. Semple and his party were for peace or war.

During the interview a shot was fired—it is a matter in dispute to this day who fired it—the half-breeds immediately poured a volley into the ranks of their opponents, and brought down nearly all the gentlemen of the party, including the unfortunate Governor; the remainder fled to the fort, so closely pursued, that friend and foe entered together. Thus the poor settlers found themselves suddenly surrounded by all the horrors of war; their anticipated paradise converted into a field of blood; husbands and brothers killed; their little property pillaged, and their persons in the power of their enemies.

An arrangement, however, was entered into by the rival Companies, that allowed the emigrants to take possession of the lands allotted to them, and in the course of a few years their labour had made a sensible impression on the forest. Cattle were sent out from England; pigs and poultry followed, and honest Donald was beginning to find himself at his ease, when, lo! all his dreams of future wealth and happiness vanished in a moment. Red River overflowed its banks, and inundated the whole settlement. This extraordinary flood caused immense loss; it overthrew houses, swept away the cattle, and utterly ruined the crops of the season. The buffaloes, however, proved abundant, and afforded a supply of provisions enough to prevent starvation, and the settlers soon recovered from the effects of this misfortune. Another calamity followed—the caterpillar appeared—at first in small numbers, afterwards in myriads, covering the whole land, and eating up "every green thing," and thus the crops were destroyed a second time; but the consequences were not so severely felt as formerly; the preceding season had proved extremely abundant, and a sufficient quantity remained to supply the failure of this year. Since that time the colony has advanced rapidly, enjoying undisturbed peace; industry has its sure reward in the abundance of all the necessaries of life which it procures.

Since the coalition took place, Red River has become the favourite retreat of the Company's servants, especially of those who have families; here they obtain lands almost at a nominal price. A lot of one mile in length and six chains in breadth, costs only 18l.; and they find themselves surrounded by people of congenial habits with themselves, the companions of their youth, and fellow-adventurers; those with whom they tugged at the oar, and shared the toil of the winter march; and when they meet together to smoke the social pipe, and talk of the scenes of earlier days, "nor prince nor prelate" can enjoy more happiness.

The last census, taken in 1836, gave the population at 5,000 souls; it may now (1845) amount to 7,000. Of this number a very small proportion is Scotch, about forty families, and perhaps 300 souls. The Scotch carried with them the frugal and industrious habits of their country; the same qualities characterise their children, who are far in advance of their neighbours in all that constitutes the comforts of life. These advantages they owe, under the blessing of Providence, to their own good management; yet, notwithstanding this, and notwithstanding that they are a quiet and a moral people, they are objects of envy and hatred to their hybrid neighbours; and thus my industrious and worthy countrymen, in the possession of almost every other blessing which they could desire, are still unhappy from the malice and ill-will they meet with on every side; and being so inferior in numbers, they must submit to the insults and abuse they are daily exposed to, while the blood boils in their veins to resent them. Thus situated, many of them have abandoned the settlement and gone to the United States, where they enjoy the fruits of their industry in peace.

The French half-breeds and retired Canadian voyageurs occupy the upper part of the settlement. The half-breeds are strongly attached to the roving life of the hunter; the greater part of them depend entirely on the chase for a living, and even the few who attend to farming take a trip to the plains, to feast on buffalo humps and marrow fat. They sow their little patches of ground early in spring, and then set out for the chase, taking wives and children along with them, and leaving only the aged and infirm at home to attend to the crops.

When they set out for the plains, they observe all the order and regularity of a military march; officers being chosen for the enforcement of discipline, who are subject to the orders of a chief, whom they style "M. le Commandant." They take their departure from the settlement about the latter end of June, to the number of from 1,200 to 1,500 souls; each hunter possesses at least six carts, and some twelve; the whole number may amount to 5,000 carts. Besides his riding nag and cart horses, he has also at least one buffalo runner, which he never mounts until he is about to charge the buffalo. The "runner" is tended with all the care which the cavalier of old bestowed on his war steed; his housing and trappings are garnished with beads and porcupine quills, exhibiting all the skill which the hunter's wife or belle can exercise; while head and tail display all the colours of the rainbow in the variety of ribbon attached to them.

The "Commandant" directs the movements of the whole cavalcade: at a signal given in the morning by sound of trumpet—alias, by blowing a horn,—the hunters start together for their horses; while the women and servants strike the tents, and pack up and load the baggage. The horses being all collected, a second blast forms the order of march; the carts fall in, four abreast; the hunters mount; and dividing into their different bodies, one precedes the baggage, another closes the line, and a third divides in both flanks. The third blast is the signal for marching. They halt about two hours at noon, for the purpose of allowing their cattle time to feed; and the same order is observed as in starting in the morning. When they encamp at night, the carts are placed in a circle; and the tents are pitched within the enclosed space, so as to form regular streets; the horses are "hobbled" and turned loose to graze.

All the arrangements for the night being completed, guards are appointed to watch over the safety of the camp, who are relieved at fixed hours. In this manner they proceed until they approach the buffalo grounds, when scouts are sent out to ascertain the spot where the herd may be found. The joyful discovery being made, the scouts apprise the main body by galloping backwards and forwards, when a halt is immediately ordered. The camp is pitched; the hunters mount their runners; and the whole being formed into an extended line, with the utmost regularity, they set forward at a hand gallop; not a soul advances an inch in front of the line, until within gun-shot of the herd, when they rein up for a moment. The whole body then, as if with one voice, shout the war whoop, and rush on the herd at full gallop; each hunter, singling out an animal, pursues it until he finds an opportunity of taking sure aim; the animal being dispatched, some article is dropped upon it that can be afterwards recognised. The hunter immediately sets off in chase of another, priming, loading, and taking aim at full speed. A first-rate runner not unfrequently secures ten buffaloes at a "course;" from four to eight is the usual number. He who draws the first blood claims the animal, and each individual hunter is allowed whatever he kills.

The moment the firing commences, the women set out with the carts, and cut up and convey the meat to the camp; where it is dried by means of bones and fat. Two or three days are required for the operation, when they set out again; and the same herd, perhaps, yields a sufficient quantity to load all the carts, each carrying about one thousand pounds,—an enormous quantity in the aggregate; yet the herd is sometimes so numerous that all this slaughter does not seem to diminish it.

The buffalo hunt affords much of the excitement, and some of the dangers, of the battle-field. The horses are often gored by the infuriated bulls, to the great peril—sometimes to the loss—of the rider's life; serious accidents too happen from falls. There are no better horsemen in the world than the Red River "brules;" and so long as the horse keeps on his legs, the rider sticks to him. The falls are chiefly occasioned by the deep holes the badger digs all over the prairies; if the horse plunges into one of these, both horse and man roll on the ground. Fatal accidents, also, occasionally happen from gun shots in the melee; and it is said, I know not with what truth, that a wronged husband, or a supplanted lover, sometimes avails himself of the opportunity presented by the melee to miss the buffalo, and hit a friend—by accident.

A priest generally accompanies the camp, and mass is celebrated with becoming solemnity on Sundays. The "brules" attend, looking very serious and grave until a herd of buffaloes appear; when the cry of "La vache! la vache!" scatters the congregation in an instant; away they scamper, old and young, leaving the priest to preach to the winds, or perhaps to a few women and children. Two trips in the year are generally made to the prairie; the latter in August. The buffalo hunter's life assimilates more to that of the savage than of the civilized man; it is a life of alternate plenty and want—a life also of danger and inquietude. The Indians of the plain view the encroachment of the strange race on their hunting grounds, with feelings of jealousy and enmity. They are, accordingly, continually on the alert; they attack detached parties and stragglers; they also set fire to the prairies about the time the "brules" set out for the hunt, and by this means drive the game beyond their reach. Owing to this circumstance, the "brules" have returned with empty carts for these two years past; and their only resource has been to betake themselves to the woods, and live after the manner of the Indians. Could they find a sure market for the produce of the soil, so as to remunerate their labour, there can be little doubt but that they might be gradually detached from the half-savage life they lead, and become as steady and industrious as their neighbours.

The English half-breeds, as the mixed progeny of the British are designated, possess many of the characteristics of their fathers; they generally prefer the more certain pursuit of husbandry to the chase, and follow close on the heels of the Scotch in the path of industry and moral rectitude. Very few of them resort to the plains, unless for the purpose of trafficking the produce of their farms for the produce of the chase; and it is said that they frequently return home better supplied with meat than the hunters themselves.

The Indians who have been converted to the Protestant religion, are settled around their respected pastor at the lower extremity of the settlement, within twenty miles of the mouth of the river. The Sauteux, of all other tribes, are the most tenacious of their own superstitions; and it would require all the zeal and patience and perseverance of the primitive teachers of Christianity to wean them from them. But when convinced of his errors, the Sauteux convert is the more steadfast in his faith; and his steadfastness and sincerity prove an ample reward to his spiritual father for his pains and anxiety on his behalf.

The Indian converts are entirely guided by their Missionary in temporal as well as in spiritual things. When he first came among them, he found their habits of indolence so deep-rooted, that something more than advice was necessary to produce the desired change. Like Oberlin, therefore, he set before them the example of a laborious and industrious life; he tilled, he sowed, he planted, he reaped with his own hands, and afterwards shared his produce with them. By persevering in this, he succeeded in finally gaining them to his views; and, at the present moment, their settlement is in as forward a state of improvement as any of the neighbouring settlements.

They have their mills, and barns, and dwelling-houses; their horses, and cattle, and well-cultivated fields:—a happy change! A few years ago, these same Indians were a wretched, vagabond race; "hewers of wood and drawers of water" for the other settlers, as their pagan brethren still are; they wandered about from house to house, half-starved, and half-naked; and even in this state of abject misery, preferring a glass of "fire-water" to food and raiment for themselves or their children.

There are at present three ministers of the episcopal communion at Red River. The Scotch inhabitants attend the church regularly, although they sigh after the form of worship to which they had been accustomed in early youth; they, however, assemble afterwards in their own houses to read the Scriptures, and worship God after the manner of their fathers. There are also three Roman Catholic clergymen, including a bishop;—good, exemplary men, whose "constant care" is not "to increase their store," but to guide and direct their flocks in the paths of piety and virtue. But, alas! they have a stiff-necked people to deal with;—the French half-breed, who follows the hunter's life, possesses all the worst vices of his European and Indian progenitors, and is indifferent alike to the laws of God and man. There are, in all, seven places of worship, three Roman Catholic, and four Protestant, including two for the Indians.

The education of the more respectable families, particularly those of the Company's officers, is well provided for at an institution of great merit; the gentleman who presides over it being every way qualified for the important trust. The different branches of mathematical and classical learning are taught in it; and the school has already produced some excellent scholars. In addition to the more useful branches of female education, the young ladies are taught music and drawing by a respectable person of their own sex. Thus we have, in the midst of this remote wilderness of the North-West, all the elements of civilized life; and there are there many young persons of both sexes, well educated and accomplished, who have never seen the civilized world. There are also thirteen schools for the children of the lower class, supported entirely by the parents themselves.

The Company have here two shops (or stores), well supplied with every description of goods the inhabitants can require; there are besides several merchants scattered through the settlement, some of whom are said to be in easy circumstances. The Company's bills constitute the circulating medium, and are issued for the value of from one to twenty shillings. Of late years, a considerable amount of American specie has found its way into the settlement, probably in exchange for furs clandestinely disposed of by the merchants beyond the line. The petty merchants import their goods from England by the Company's ships; an ad valorem duty is imposed on these goods, the proceeds of which are applied to the payment of the constabulary force of the colony. The Company's charter invests it with the entire jurisdiction, executive and judicial, of the colony. The local Governor and Council enact such simple statutes as the primitive condition of the settlement requires; and those enactments have hitherto proved equal to the maintenance of good order. A court of quarter sessions is regularly held for the administration of justice, and the Company have lately appointed a Recorder to preside over it. It is gratifying to learn, that this functionary has had occasion to pass judgment on no very flagitious crime since his appointment.

In the work to which I have so frequently referred, it is mentioned, that a "certain market is secured to the inhabitants by the demand for provisions for the other settlements." If by "settlements" the miserable trading posts be meant, as it must be, I know not on what grounds such an affirmation is made. A sure market, forsooth! A single Scotch farmer could be found in the colony, able alone to supply the greater part of the produce the Company require; there is one, in fact, who offered to do it. If a sure market were secured to the colonists of Red River, they would speedily become the wealthiest yeomanry in the world. Their barns and granaries are always full to overflowing; so abundant are the crops, that many of the farmers could subsist for a period of two or even three years, without putting a grain of seed in the ground. The Company purchase from six to eight bushels of wheat from each farmer, at the rate of three shillings per bushel; and the sum total of their yearly purchases from the whole settlement amounts to—

600 cwt. flour, first and second quality. 35 bushels rough barley. 10 half-firkins butter, 28 lbs. each. 10 bushels Indian corn. 200 cwt. best kiln-dried flour. 60 firkins butter, 56 lbs. each. 240 lbs. cheese. 60 hams.

Thus it happens that the Red River farmer finds a "sure market" for six or eight bushels of wheat—and no more. Where he finds a sure market for the remainder of his produce, Heaven only knows—I do not. This much, however, I do know,—that the incomparable advantages this delightful country possesses are not only in a great measure lost to the inhabitants, but also to the world, so long as it remains under the domination of its fur-trading rulers. In the possession of, and subject to the immediate jurisdiction of the Crown, Assineboine would become a great and a flourishing colony—the centre of civilization and Christianity to the surrounding tribes, who would be converted from hostile barbarians into a civilized and loyal people;—and thus Great Britain would extend and establish her dominion in a portion of her empire that may be said to have been hitherto unknown to her, while she would open a new field for the enterprise and industry of her sons.

In describing the advantages of this country, candour requires that I should also point out its disadvantages. The chief disadvantage is the difficulty of the communication with the sea, interrupted as it is by shoals, rapids, and falls, which in their present state can only be surmounted with incredible toil and labour. Yet there cannot be a doubt that the skill of the engineer could effect such improvements as would obviate the most, if not the whole, of this labour, and that at no very great cost. The distance from the mouth of Red River to York Factory is about 550 miles; 300 miles of this distance is formed of lakes—(Lake Winnipeg, 250 miles in length, is navigable for vessels of forty and fifty tons burden). The greater part of the river communication might be rendered passable by Durham boats, merely by damming up the rivers. Along the line of communication, many situations may be found suitable for farming operations.



CHAPTER XXII.

SIR G. SIMPSON—HIS ADMINISTRATION.

Sir George Simpson commenced his career as a clerk in a respectable counting-house in London, where his talents soon advanced him to the first seat at the desk. He was in this situation when first introduced to the notice of a member of the Committee of the Hudson's Bay Company, who were at that time engaged in the ruinous competition with the North-West Company already referred to. While the contest was at its height, the Company sent out Mr. Simpson as Governor of the Northern department;—an appointment for which, by his abilities natural and acquired, he was well qualified. Mr. Simpson combined with the prepossessing manners of a gentleman all the craft and subtlety of an intriguing courtier; while his cold and callous heart was incapable of sympathising with the woes and pains of his fellow-men. On his first arrival, he carefully concealed from those whom he was about to supersede, the powers with which he was invested; he studied the characters of individuals, scrutinized in secret their mode of managing affairs, and when he had made himself fully acquainted with every particular he desired to know, he produced his commission;—a circumstance that proved as unexpected as it was unsatisfactory to those whose interests it affected.

Making every allowance for Sir George's abilities, he is evidently one of those men whom the blind goddess "delighteth to honour." Soon after assuming the supreme command, the North-West wintering partners undertook the mission to England, already mentioned, which led to the coalition; and thus Sir George found himself, by a concurrence of circumstances quite independent of his merits, placed at the head of both parties; from being Governor of Rupert's Land his jurisdiction now included the whole of the Indian territory from Hudson's Bay to the shores of the Pacific Ocean; and the Southern department, at that time a separate command, was soon after added to his government. Here, then, was a field worthy of his talents; and that he did every manner of justice to it, no one can deny. Yet he owes much of his success to the valuable assistance rendered him by Mr. McTavish; at his suggestion, the whole business was re-organized, a thousand abuses in the management of affairs were reformed, and a strict system of economy was introduced where formerly boundless extravagance prevailed. To effect these salutary measures, however, much tact was required: and here Sir George's abilities shone conspicuous. The long-continued strife between the two companies had engendered feelings of envy and animosity, which could not subside in a day; and the steps that had been taken to bring about the coalition, created much ill-will even among the North-West partners themselves. Nor were the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company without their dissensions also. To harmonize these elements of discord, to reconcile the different parties thus brought so suddenly and unexpectedly together into one fold, was a task of the utmost difficulty to accomplish; but Sir George was equal to it. He soon discovered that the North-West partners possessed both the will and the ability to thwart and defeat such of his plans as were not satisfactory to themselves; that they were by far the most numerous in the Council—at that time an independent body—and the best acquainted with the trade of the Northern department, the most important in the territory; and finding, after some experience, that while those gentlemen continued united, their power was beyond his control, and that to resist them openly would only bring ruin on himself, without any benefit to the concern, he prudently gave way to their influence; and instead of forcing himself against the stream, allowed himself apparently to be carried along with it.

For a time, he seemed to promote all the views of his late adversaries; he yielded a ready and gracious acquiescence in their wishes; he lavished his bows, and smiles, and honied words on them all; and played his part so well, that the North-Westers thought they had actually gained him over to their own side; while the gentlemen of the Hudson's Bay Company branded him as a traitor, who had abandoned his own party and gone over to the enemy.

The Committee received several hints of the Governor's "strange management," but they only smiled at the insinuations, as they perfectly understood the policy. His well-digested schemes had, in due time, all the success he anticipated.

Having thus completely gained the confidence of the North-West partners, his policy began gradually to unfold itself. One obstreperous North-Wester was sent to the Columbia; another to the Montreal department, where "their able services could not be dispensed with;" and thus in the course of a few years he got rid of all those refractory spirits who dared to tell him their minds.

The North-West nonconformists being in this manner disposed of, Sir George deemed it no longer necessary to wear the mask. His old friends of the Hudson's Bay, or "sky-blue" party, were gradually received into favour; his power daily gained the ascendant, and at this moment Sir George Simpson's rule is more absolute than that of any governor under the British crown, as his influence with the Committee enables him to carry into effect any measure he may recommend. That one possessed of an authority so unbounded should often abuse his power is not to be wondered at; and that the abuse of power thus tolerated should degenerate into tyranny is but the natural consequence of human weakness and depravity. The question is—Is it consistent with prudence to allow an individual to assume and retain such power? Most of the Company's officers enter the service while yet very young; none are so young, however, as not to be aware of the privileges to which they are entitled as British subjects, and that they have a right to enjoy those privileges while they tread on British soil. The oft repeated acts of tyranny of which the autocrat of "all Prince Rupert's Land and its dependencies" has lately been guilty, have accordingly created a feeling of discontent which, if it could be freely expressed, would be heard from the shores of the Pacific to Labrador.

Unfortunately, the Company's servants are so situated, that they dare not express their sentiments freely. The clerk knows that if he is heard to utter a word of disapprobation, it is carried to the ears of his sovereign lord, and his prospects of advancement are marred for ever; he therefore submits to his grievances in silence. The chief trader has probably a large family to support, has been thirty or forty years in the service, and is daily looking forward to the other step: he too is silent. The chief factor has a situation of importance in which his vanity is gratified and his comfort secured; to express his opinion freely might risk the sacrifice of some of these advantages; so he also swallows the pill without daring to complain of its bitterness, and is silent.

A very valuable piece of plate was, some years ago, presented to Sir George by the commissioned gentlemen in the service, as a mark of respect and esteem; and this circumstance may be adduced by Sir George's friends, with every appearance of reason, as a proof of his popularity; but the matter is easily explained. Some two or three persons who share Sir George's favour, determine among themselves to present him with some token of their gratitude. They address a circular on the subject to all the Company's officers, well knowing that none dare refuse in the face of the whole country to subscribe their name. The same cogent reasons that suppress the utterance of discontent compelled the Company's servants to subscribe to this testimonial; and the subscription list accordingly exhibits, with few exceptions, the names of every commissioned gentleman in the service; while two-thirds of them would much rather have withheld their signatures.

Sir George owes his ribbon to the successful issue of the Arctic expedition conducted by Messrs. Dease and Simpson. His share of the merit consisted in drawing out instructions for those gentlemen, which occupied about half-an-hour of his time at the desk. It is quite certain that the expedition owed none of its success to those instructions. The chief of the party, Mr. Dease, was at least as well qualified to give as to receive instructions; and Sir George is well aware of the fact. He knows, too, that Mr. Dease was engaged in the Arctic expedition under Sir J. Franklin, where he acquired that experience which brought this important yet hazardous undertaking to a successful issue; he knows also that in an enterprise of this kind a thousand contingencies may arise, which must be left entirely to the judgment of those engaged in it to provide against.

Sir George, nevertheless, obtained the chief honours; but the bauble perishes with him; while the courage, the energy and the perseverance of Mr. Dease and his colleague will ever be a subject of admiration to those who peruse the narrative of their adventures.

Sir George's administration, it is granted, has been a successful one; yet his own friends will admit that much of this success must be ascribed to his good fortune rather than to his talents. The North-West Company had previously reduced the business to a perfect system, which he had only to follow. It is true he introduced great economy into every department; but the North-West Company had done so before him, and the wasteful extravagance which preceded his appointment was entirely the result of the rivalry between the two companies, and under any governor whatever would have ceased when the coalition was effected.

Not a little, too, of Sir George's economy was of "the penny-wise and pound-foolish" kind. Thus it has been already observed, that the lives of the Company's servants, and the property of an entire district, were placed in extreme jeopardy by his false economy; and a contingency, which no prudent man would have calculated upon, alone prevented a catastrophe which involved the destruction of the Company's property to a large amount, as well as of the lives of its servants. But independently of this, he has committed several errors of a most serious kind. Of these the chief is the Ungava adventure, an enterprise which was begun in opposition to the opinion of every gentleman in the country whose experience enabled him to form a correct judgment in the matter; and this undertaking was persisted in, year after year, at an enormous loss to the Company. Finally, he has not even the merit of correcting his own blunders. It was not till after a mass of evidence of the strongest kind was laid before the Committee, that they, in his absence, gave orders for the abandonment of the hopeless project.

His caprice, his favouritism, his disregard of merit in granting promotion, it will be allowed, could not have a favourable effect on the Company's interests. His want of feeling has been mentioned: a single example of this will close these remarks. A gentleman of high rank in the service, whose wife was dangerously ill, received orders to proceed on a journey of nearly 5,000 miles. Aware that his duty required a prompt obedience to these orders, he set off, taking her along with him. On arriving at the end of the first stage, she became worse; and medical assistance being procured, the physicians were of opinion that in all probability death would be the consequence if he continued his journey. A certificate to this effect was forwarded to Sir George. The answer was, that Madame's health must not interfere with the Company's service; and that he must continue his journey, or abide the consequences.

In consequence of this delay, he only reached Montreal on the day when the boats were to leave Lachine for the interior. He hurried to the office, where he met Sir George, and was received by him with the cool remark—

"You are late, Sir; but if you use expedition you may yet be in time for the boats."

He earnestly begged for some delay, but in vain. No regard was paid to his entreaties; and he was obliged to hurry his wife off to Lachine, and put her on board a common canoe, where there is no accommodation for a sick person, and where no assistance could be procured, even in the last extremity.



VOCABULARY OF THE PRINCIPAL INDIAN DIALECTS IN USE AMONG THE TRIBES IN THE HUDSON'S BAY TERRITORY.

- SAUTEU, or BEAVER ENGLISH. OGIBOIS. CREE. INDIAN. CHIPPEWAYAN. - - - One Pejik Pay ak It la day Ittla hē Two Neesh Neesho Onk shay day Nank hay Three Nisway Nisto Ta day Ta he Four Neowin Neo Dini day Dunk he Five Nā nan Nay nā Tlat zoon e Sa soot nan de ay la he Six Ni got as way Nigotwassik Int zud ha L'goot ha he Seven Nish was Tay pa Ta e wayt Tluz ud way goop zay dunk he Eight Shwas way Ea naneo Etzud een L'goot dung tay he Nine Sang Kay gat me Kala gay ne Itla ud ha tā tat ad ay Ten Quaitch Me ta tat Kay nay day Hona Eleven Aji pay jik Payak ai Tlad ay Itla, ja wak may day idel Twelve Aji neesh Neesh way Ong shay day Nank hay, ai wok may day ja idel Twenty Neej ta na Neesh Ong ka gay Ta he, ja tan ao nay day idel Thirty Nisway Neo Tao gay mittana meatanao nay day Forty Neo mittana &c. Deo gay nay day Fifty Nanan mittana &c. Sixty Nigot asway mittana Seventy Nish was way mittana Eighty Shwas way mittana Ninety Sang mittana One Ni goot wack Me ta tin Kay nay tay Itla honan hundred mittanao nanana. How often Anin. tas Tan mat Tan ay tien Itla hon ink ta to eeltay. How many Anin ain Tan ay Tan ay Itla elday. tas ink ta tik tien How long Anape apin Ta ispi A shay Itla hon since aijo aspin doo yay il tao. When Anape Ta is pi Dee ad Itlao. doo yay To-day Nongum Anootch kee Doo jay Deerd sin kajigack je gak nee ay o gay. To-morrow Wabunk Wa bakay Ghad ay zay Campay. Yesterday Chenāngo Ta goosh Ghagh ganno Hozud ick singay. This year Nongum egee Anootch Doo la Do uz sin e wang egee gay. kee wang This Wa a. Awa pee Teeay tee Dirius month Keēsis shum za a gay. A man Inine Nā bay o Taz eu Dinnay you. A woman Ikway Isk way o Iay quay Tzay quay. A girl Ikway says Isk way Id az oo Ed dinna shish gay. A boy Quee we says Na bay Taz yuz e Dinnay yoo shish azay. Inter- Oten way ta On tway ta Nao day ay Dinnay tee preter ma gay ma gay o ghaltay. Trader Ata way Ataway Meeoo tay Ma kad ray. ini niu ininiu Moose- Moze Mozwa Tlay tchin Tunnehee Deer tay hee. Rein-Deer Attick Attick May tzee Ed hun. Beaver Amick Amisk Tza Tza. Dog Ani moosh Attim Tlee Tlee. Rabbit Waboose Waboose Kagh Kagh. Bear Maqua Masqua Zus Zus. Wolf Ma ing an Mahigan Tshee o nay Noo nee yay. Fox Wa goosh Ma kay E. yay thay Nag hee shish dthay. I hunt Ni ge oz Ni mā Na o zed Naz uz ay. ay tchin Thou Ki ge oz Ki ma tchin Nodzed Nan ul zay. huntest ay He hunts Ge oz ay Ma tchio Nazin zed Nal zay. We hunt Ni ge oz Ni ma Naze zedeo Na il zay. ay min tchinan Ye hunt Ki ge Ki ma Nazin zedeo Nal zin oz aim tchinawao al day. They hunt Ge oz ay Matchiwog Owadie tzed Na hal zay. wok I kill Ni ne ta Ni mi na Uz eay gha Zil tir. gay hon Thou Ki ne ta Ki mi na Uz eay ghan Zil nil tir. killest gay hon He kills Ne ta gay Minaho Ud zeay gha Tla in il tir. We kill Ni ne ta Ni mina Uz ugho-ghay Tla in il gay min honan uzin dir. Ye kill Ki ne ta Kim in a Uz ugho ghay Zee ool dir. gaim honawa uzin They kill Ne ta Minahowog Utza ghay Tla in gay wok agho il tay. I laugh Ni baap Ni baap in Utzay rad Naz-lo. lotsh Thou Ki baap Ki baap in Utlint lotsh Na-id-lo. laughest He laughs Baape Baapio Utroz lotsh Nad-lo. We laugh Ni baap Ni baap Utlo wod Tlo imin in an lotshay a-ee-el-tee. Ye laugh Ki baapim Ki baapin Tlodzud Tlo gha a wao udzee ee-ol-tee. They Baap ewog Baapiwog Tlodzud Tlo-gha- laugh udzee ee-el-tee. I trade Ni da ta Ni da dā Mata oz lay Naz nee. way wan Thou Ki da ta Ki da dā Mata an Na el nee. tradest way wan eelay He trades Ataway Atawayo Kita od Na el nee. eenla We trade Ni da ta Nin da tā Mata ad oz Na-da-ell way min wan an id la nee. Ye trade Ki da ta Ki da tā Mata a la Na ool nee. way min wan o wa ozayo They trade A ta way Ata way wok Ma tā a Eghon a el wok leeay la nee. I fight Ni me gaz Ni no ti Magad ay a Dinī gun ni gan as tir. Thou Ki me gaz Ki no ti Magad osee Dini gun a fightest ni gan ya la ee dthir He fights Mi gazo No ti ni gay o We fight Ni me Nino ti ni gazomin gān an Ye fight Ki me gazom Ki no ti ni gan a wao They Mi guz Notini gay fight o wog wok I set Ni bug-e Ni bug-e Zoo meet la Tloo e a net ta wa ta wan uz loo kanistan. Thou Ki bug-e Ki bug-e Too meet Tloo e kan settest ta wa ta wan lan itlo e than. a net He sets Bug-e ta wa Bug-e ta Ta eet loon Tloo e kan a net wao ethan loay. We set Ni bug-e ta Ni bug-e ta Ta ghoo loo Tloo e kan a net wa min wānan hoon oodthan. Ye set Ni bug-e Ki bug-e Ta ghoo loo Tloo e kan a net ta wam ta-wan a uz eo eehtan. wao They set Bug-e ta Bug-e-ta-wa Too milt at a net wā wog wog la oozoon I sail Ni be mash Ni be mashin Thou Ki be mash Ki be sailest mashin He sails Bi mash e Be mash eo We sail Ni bi Ni bi mishimin mashinan Ye sail Ki bi Ki bi mashin mash im a wao They sail Bi mash Be mash i wog i wog I sleep Ni ni bā Ni ni ban Zus tee ay Thee id ghee. Thou Ki ni ba Ki ni ban Zin tee ay Theend ghee. sleepest He sleeps Ni ba Ni ba o Na gho tee Thad ghee. azay We sleep Ni ni bā Ni ni bān Zut ie tsho Theed min an ghāz Ye sleep Ki ni bam Ki ni ban Tsuz ie Thood ghaz ā wao tsho They Ni ba wog Ni ba wog Tsugh ien Hay ud sleep tiez ghaz I drink Ni minik way Ni minik wan Uzto Haysta Thou Ki minik way Ki minik Nadho Nad-ha drinkest wan He drinks Minik way Minik way o Ughiehedo Ee ed ha We drink Ni minik Ni minik May ee ta Heel tell way min wānan Ye drink Ki mink waim Ki minik May lee Hool tell wanāwao ta la They Minikway wog Minikway wok May atta He el tell drink I want to Ni we Ni we O ghoz to Oz ta in drink miniquay miniquan is tan Drink Minik quaine Minik quay Llhad ho Ned ha Eat Wiss in Mee tisso In tzits Zinhud hee Sleep Ni bān Ni ba Njuz ti ay Dthin ghee Go away Eko kān Awiss tay E yow e E you tshay issay Come here Undass is Ass-tum Tee ad zay E youk han uz ay Tell him Win da ma o Wi da ma o Tee ay tin Hal in nee day Trade Atāwaine Ataway Tee ay gho Na il nee tsho Whence Ande Tante way Tee ay ghay Ed luzeet do you wentchipai to tay dzin aghon gho adzee come? an dee ay an adee Where Ande aish Tante ay to Tee ay ghay Ed luzeet are you āe an tay an de āza hee hee going? ya Be quick Wee weep e Kee-ee pee Dzag ghay Ee-gha tan I shoot Ni bas giss Ni bas giss A jes tee o A yous e gay e gan kay Thou Ki bas giss Ki bas giss A tee tshe Ahil kay shootest e gay e gan etsh He shoots Bās giss Bas giss Agha tee et Ahil guth e gay e gay-o yetsh We shoot Ni bas gisse Ni bas gisse Ateed yetsh Ahel keeth gay min gān an Ye Ki bas gisse Ki bas giss Atad yetsh Er. ool shoot game e gan ā keeth. wao They Bās gisse Bas giss e Aza du ghad Tay ar el shoot gay wog gay wog yetsh keeth. A Gun Bās gisse Bas giss e Tie yaz o o Tel git gan gan hay. Powder Makatay Kas. ki tay Al aizay Tel ge o gonna. Shot She shep ass Nisk ass in Noo tay Telt hay. nin ee a ad-o o Give me Meesh ish in Mee an Tes yay Daz ee. I give Ki mee nin Ki mee Nan uz lay Na gha on you ni tin in in nee. Look In ā bin Etā bi Ag gan eetha Ghon el lee. Wait Pee ton Pay ho Ad oog-a. Gad day. Tobacco Na say ma Na stay mao Aday ka yaze Sel tooe. Pipe Poagan Os poagan Tsee ay Dthay. Net Assup A he apee Too me Dtka bill. Fish Kee kō Kee no Tloo Tloo-ay. shay o Flesh Wee-ass Wee ass Ad zun Berr. River See pe See pe Za ghay Dāz. Lake Sa ka i gan Sa ka i gan Meet hay Nad koo al ta. Water Nee pee Nee pee Too Too. Summer Nee been Nee been Ad o lay Seen nay. Winter Pay poon Pay pun Ealk hay ay Ghā e yay. Spring See goan Me as gamin Do o Tloo guth. Autumn Tag wā gin Tag wā Edoo Ghao ud gin aidlosin azay. -

THE END.

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