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Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

New light on the early history of the greater Northwest

by Alexander Henry


"Henry's Journal breaks short off with this curt statement of his wintering 1808-09 at Fort Vermilion, and voyaging to Kaministiquia the following summer. Instead of a diary or personal narrative, he next gives us his observations on the Indians, for which, of course, I make a new chapter. This ended, we shall find him again at Fort Vermilion, where he arrives Sept. 13th, 1809, from Fort William, and resumes his journal.

The reader will easily find Vermilion r. on any good map. Thompson traces it conspicuously, but without any lettering: see the large stream on his map, running from " Chain of Lakes," and falling into the Saskatchewan from the S., a little beyond long, 11o° W. This is the position of Fort Vermilion. We thus see that this was the Lower Fort des Prairies to which Henry had been appointed, as said on p. 440. At the same date, Fort Augustus was Upper Fort des Prairies. Refer to note **, p. 481, for explanation of "Fort des Prairies" as a generic name of various places.



^THE Crees, or Kinistineaux, are a numerous people, ^** derived from the same original [Algonquian] stock as the Ogeebois [Ojibways, Chippewas,] or Saulteurs, inhabiting the country adjacent and N. W. of the latter, even as far as Peace river.1 Their language is less copious and

1 Sir A. McKenzie has the following on the origin of the name, p. 123: "On the 13th [Oct., 1792], at noon, we came to the Peace Point; from which, according to the report of my interpreter, the river derives its name; it was the spot where the Knisteneaux and Beaver Indians settled their dispute; the real name of the river and point being that of the land which was the object of contention. When this country was formerly invaded by the Knisteneaux, they found the Beaver Indians inhabiting the land about Portage la Loche [Methy portage], and the adjoining tribe were those whom they called Slaves. They drove both these tribes before them; when the latter proceeded down the river from the Lake of the Hills [Athabasca], in consequence of which that part of it obtained the name of the Slave River. The former proceeded up the river; and when the Knisteneaux made peace with them, this place was settled to be the boundary." A native name of Peace r. is Unshagah or Unjigah. It is the next great river N. of the Athabasca, from the Rocky mts. about E. N. E. to Lake Athabasca, into the W. end of which it falls, in common with Athabasca r., near 1110 30' W. long. The two main branches of Peace r. in the mountains are Finlay's r. and Parsnip r.; the latter heads in the Continental Divide, in close relations with the northernmost elbow of Fraser's r. There are, of course, many tributaries, a principal one of which is Smoke or Smoky r. The main tributaries in order downward, from Finlay's to Smoky r., are called Halfway, N.; Moberly's, S.; Pine, S.; Mud, S.; D'Echafaud, S.; another Pine, N.; Mountain, N.; Rat, S.; Muddy, N., at Dunvegan; Burnt, S.; and Little Burnt, N. The united waters of Peace r. and the Athabasca, together with the discharge of Lake Athabasca, flow northward into Great Slave 1., whence this great system of waters seeks the Arctic ocean as McKenzie's r. Peace r. is credited with a length of over 1,000 m. It began to be occupied by the traders toward the end of the last century. Some of these posts may be here noted, including the most famous one of that region, which, however, was not on Peace r. but on Lake Athabasca, in the delta qountry of Peace and Athabasca rivers. This it, Fort Chipewyan, Chepewyan, Chippewyan, Chipewean, etc. Two of the name are to be distinguished, "old" and "new." The celebrated Peter Pond led the way to the founding of old Fort Chipewyan by building a house on Athabasca r. some 30-40 m. above the lake, in 1778 ; it long remained a noted point on the river. Thompson passed "Pond's old House" May 17th, 1804, and made observations which yielded lat. 580 25' N., long, 1110 23' W. The "old Pond fort" is marked for position on some modern maps. Some confusion has occasionally arisen as to its location, for it has been said to have been on Riviere a la Biche, or Elk r.; but these were both synonyms of Athabasca r. The circumstances of the origination of old Fort Chipewyan are thus stated by McKenzie, p. lxxxvii: "At the distance of about 40 miles [up Athabasca r.] from the lake [Athabasca] is the Old Establishment . . . formed by Mr. Pond in the year 1778-9, and which was the only one in this part of the world, till the year 1785. In the year 1788 it was transferred to the Lake of the Hills [Athabasca], and formed on a point on its Southern side, at about eight miles from the discharge of the river. It was named Fort Chepewyan, and is in latitude 58. 38. North, longitude 11o. 26. West . . . the place which I made my headquarters for eight years, and from whence I took my departure, on both my expeditions." Sir Alexander left it June 3d, 1789, returned to it Sept. 12th, 1789, after an absence of 102 days, and wintered there with Roderic McKenzie, 1789-90; on his return he found C. Grant building a new house. Fort Chipewyan stood on the base of a rocky point which ran about a league out into the S. W. part of the lake, and soon became an important trade center as the general rendezvous and distributing post of that whole region. It was painted inside, and had a little library. It was styled " Emporium of the North " and " Little Athens of the Hyperborean regions." It was decaying in 1815 and abandoned about 1820. New Fort Chipewyan was built across the lake, on the N. side of the W. end, and thus more nearly in Peace River delta itself.—In 1798 Mr. John Thomson built a house, 28 x 24 feet, on Peace r., at entrance of Little Red r.; this I have found by the name of Fort de la Riviere Rouge ou Grand Marais; it had been abandoned and was in ruins in 1805.—Fort Vermilion stood on the right bank of Peace r., near Boyer r., about lat. 58? 30' N., long. 1160 W.: note TO, p. 506. David Thompson was there May 2d, 1804. Andrew McKenzie, natural son of Sir Alexander, died young there. Mar. 1st, 1809.—Fort Encampment Island was on Peace r. above Fort Vermilion; it was operative along about 1808. Fortde Tremble, du Tremble, or des Trembles—one of several "aspen" forts socalled—was on Peace r. above Fort Vermilion and below the mouth of Iroquois r., a little beyond lat. 580, near long. 1160 30'.—Fort McLeod (one) was on the left bank of Peace r. below (N. of) "the forks," i. e., mouth of Smoky r., say lat. 56° 40', long, little over 1170.—What D. Thompson calls Fort of the Forks, where he spent more than a year, 1802-04, was on Peace r., right bank, about 5 m. above the mouth of Smoky r.—Fort Dunvegan is the best known by name of all these Peace River houses, as Dunvegan is still the name of the place, on the left bank, at mouth of Muddy cr., near lat. 560 and about long. 118° 40'; the fort was well built and situated; Harmon arrived there Oct. 10th, 1808, and was to winter 1808-09 w1tn Donald McTavish, J. G. McTavish, John McGillivray, and about 40 others; F. Goedike left Oct. 14th for St. John's above.—Fort St. John was on the left bank of Peace r., some 100 m. above Dunvegan, a few miles below that Pine r. which comes from the S., lat. above 560, long, near 1210, in what was then New Caledonia and is now British Columbia.—Cust's house is marked on some late maps as on the left bank of Peace r., in the canon, lat. 560, long. 122°.—For Hudson's Hope, old and new, below and at the canon, see note '3, p. 489.—Fort McLeod (another), which was also called McLeod's fort, was built at the N. end of McLeod 1., about lat. 530, a little beyond long. 1230. McLeod 1. receives Crooked r., which is the discharge from Kerry's and other lakes, and also receives Long Lake r., at the mouth of which is the fort; the combined discharge of these waters, now known as Pack r., joins Parsnip r.


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