New Caledonia brigade moves north from Round Lake

In this fifteenth leg of the New Caledonia Brigades’ journeys by the Old Brigade Trail to Fort Vancouver and return, I will bring the brigades north from Round Lake, which is north of Okanagan Lake, between the towns of O’Keefe, and Glenemma, B.C. They are small towns: in my ancient 1953 Gazetteer of Canada: British Columbia, Glenemma is called a Settlement, and O’Keefe is a railway stop. That’s not entirely true, though. Today, Glenemma is still a small town, but O’Keefe is more than a railway stop. It is the home of the famous O’Keefe Ranch. It is quite possible, in fact, that Round Lake and Round Creek are on the O’Keefe Ranch property.

So this is the place from which we will begin our journeys northward, toward Kamloops, which is still some distance away.

William Connolly’s Journal of the Brigade from New Caledonia to Fort Vancouver and Return, 1826:

23rd, Wednesday [August] A Heavy Shower overtook us at Lac en Rond [Round Lake] where it detained us for four Hours. The weather after that became Settled, and we proceeded on to the Entrance of the Grand Prairie, where we encamped. Distance today about 24 miles.

24th, Thursday. Set out an early hour, and rested the Horses at Campement du Poulin. From thence we proceeded on & reached the south Branch of Thompson’s River at Six o’clock PM, where we Encamped. A Man was sent to a fishing place above, to which the natives generally resort at this season, in order to procure a Canoe or two to ferry over our Baggage. He returned at night with information that the Indians would be with us early tomorrow morning with the Canoes requested. The roads today were pretty good, & weather fine.

25th, Friday. The Indians were as good as their word, and came down with the canoes early in the morning. And by Eleven o’clock the Baggage & people were all ferried over. The Horses crossed by swimming, and tho’ the river is of course double breadth, they all reached the opposite shore in safety. At one PM we resumed our Journey, having previously given the Indians a suitable recompense for the loan of their canoes, as well as for some fresh Salmon with which they had supplied us. At sun set we reached the Fort of Kamloops, where I received a visit from Courtipatte, the chief of the gang who inhabit the adjacent Country, to whom I made a present of a Calico Shirt, a little Ammunition and Tobacco. Altho’ he is a notorious rogue it is however expedient to Keep on good terms with the fellow, as perhaps otherwise our Horses might suffice, his followers being well Known for their dexterity in stealing those Animals. The property we left here in the Spring was stolen during the summer, which gives me but a poor opinion of Nicholas’s influence over his Tribe, & for which he is so much celebrated.

Weather the same as yesterday. Distance from this crossing place to Kamloops about 16 miles.

The HBC men had closed down the Kamloops post over the summer, and locking away its goods left it in the hands of “Nicholas,” whose real name was N’Kwala. N’Kwala was probably the most famous Native man in this region, and Nicola Valley, Nicola Lake, and Nicola River are, of course, named for him. Naturally he appears under the non-Native “Nicola,” if you are googling him, and this is a brief Wikipedia description of the man:

The Grande Prairie was a grassland, which Alexander Caulfield Anderson later described in his unpublished manuscript, “British Columbia:”

Before quitting this subject, I may mention that there are in various portions of British Columbia large tracts of pasture land where the snow never accumulates. These tracts are generally broad valleys lying between high ridges of hills. There is one in particular, near the dividing watershed of the Columbia and the Thompson. It is called the Grande Prairie, and contains several thousands of acres of the most luxuriant pasture. The existence of these open tracts facilitates greatly the raiding of large hers in their vicinity; so that in the event of unlooked-for severity of the season they can at once be driven to abundant and unembarrassed pasture. I have in vain endeavoured to account satisfactorily for this anomaly, and may possibly advert to the fact again before I conclude.

When I first wrote about “Campement du Poulin” I thought the name referred to a grouse! I was wrong. Campement du Poulin was named for a horse, and the word “Poulin” refers to a “colt.” The modern-day location of Campement du Poulin is at Monte Lake — another round lake that has a long history. From Monte Lake the brigades followed Monte Creek to the South Thompson River, where they crossed it at one of two points, it seems. In 1826 they crossed the river at the mouth of Monte Creek, an estimated sixteen miles east of the Kamloops post. In later years they always crossed the river at the post.

The Salmon River, that flows through Falkland, B.C., is called by the same name, and it flows east and north into Salmon Arm, Shuswap Lake. Now you know how old some of these names are: they existed as early as the early fur traders, and in fact it is likely these names were translations of the names that the Natives who lived in the region gave their rivers.

Did you notice the Calico shirt? Calico is a product of India and was imported to London from that continent by the Honorable East India Company. The Calico was purchased by the HBC, and shipped to North America where it was distributed to all the fur trade posts. Truly, the Hudson’s Bay Company was a world wide business. Their tobacco, for example, came to London from Brazil, via Lisbon: later it was imported from Virginia, and by the 1840’s the tobacco came from Canada.

So, for comparison, here is Peter Warren Dease’s Journal of the Brigade from New Caledonia to Fort Vancouver and Return, 1831:

[August] 3. Passed Okanagan Lake. Stopped at Lac Rond. On passing the strong wood found fire Raging in all directions, and had to pass very near it, the smoak so thick as almost to darken the atmosphere. Some of the Horses were Sore galled, 2 of Them were unloaded. Passed Salmon River and put up at the E. end of Grande Prairie.

4. Some of the horses were not brought up until a late hour. Lolo and Party took the lead to go on to the House. Put up at Campement du Poulin for the night.

5. Reached the [South Thompson] River at 9AM, and got to the crossing place by the house at 3PM. With the assistance of the Natives & their canoes 7 of the Brigades Baggages were Crossed over to the Fort. The others remain until morning. All the horses were driven across [the river] Except one.

Saturday 6. This morning the remainder was Crossed & find that 4 of our horses Cannot continue the voyage, they are therefore left here. Hired 5 from the Natives to take us to North River, and 6 of those Mr. [Sam] Black has lent us leaving 4 of them here and 10 Pieces remain here until they Can be sent for by Mr. [Alexander] Fisher. Sent off the Brigade at 3 PM.

“Lolo,” mentioned in this journal, was Jean-Baptiste Leolo, a native or possibly mixed-blood man who was born in 1798. Though he was supposedly born at Kamloops, he began his fur trade career somewhere in New Caledonia in 1822, and was interpreter at Fort St. James in 1824. After that he served at Fort Alexandria, and at Kamloops for years and years. He was called by various names: “the Saint,” or “Saint Paul,” and he was well connected, as his daughters married into the fur trade. John Tod of Kamloops was his son-in-law, as was Jean-Baptiste Vautrin of Fort Alexandria.

At this time, Sam Black was in charge of Fort Nez Perces [Walla Walla], though he would later take over command of the Kamloops post. Alexander Fisher has already appeared in these journals, and was in charge of Fort Alexandria at this time.

From the Kamloops post, which was, before 1843, on the north bank of the the South Thompson River, but on the east bank of the North Thompson River, the brigades would continue their journey northward, to the area of Little Fort.

When I put the next post in this series, it will appear here:

To go back to the beginning of this series, go here:

Copyright, Nancy Marguerite Anderson, 2017. All rights reserved.