The New Caledonia brigades head up the Nechako River

Furs at HBC replica fort at Fort Langley, B. C.

This selections of furs is displayed at Fort Langley, but the same furs would be found at any HBC fort in the territory.

So, in 1826 Chief Factor William Connolly and his brigades paddled by the temporarily closed Fort George [Prince George], heading upriver to Fort James. In 1831, Peter Warren Dease stopped at Fort George, which was once again opened up and probably rebuilt. Let us now read the journals so that we know what these brigaders experienced on their journey. They are almost home, and must be both relieved and excited!

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

17th Sunday [September]. Early i the morning we passed the Forks, and at nine AM came up with a couple of Indians, who are, as all those we have hitherto seen, Employed curing Salmon. From these also we procured a few, both fresh and dry. The Chief Tze-ar is off a-hunting Beaver with a few of his followers; and the rest are to follow shortly. These Indians during the existence of Fort George made excellent Hunts, but since the first year after the abandonment of that Post they have done but little. Nor can it be -re-established until the Cause which induced this measure is removed, ie. The death of the rascal who perpetrated the murders at that place.

So Fort George was closed down because there was a murder at the place. Here’s the story, from Bruce McIntyre Watson’s Lives Lived West of the Divide: 

In 1821… John Stuart ordered that the post at the original Simon Fraser site be reestablished. The new post was strategically placed to facilitate travel both down river to Fort Alexandria or up river to Yellow Head Pass. It hasn’t been opened a year when two HBC servants were killed after they had threatened to reveal the indiscretions of J[ames] M[urray] Yale’s wife. As a result of this, the post was closed and not reopened until 1829-30 and appeared to remain in the same location which, in today’s terms, rests on the west bank of the Fraser abut one mile south of the confluence of the Nechako and Fraser at the east end of 20th Avenue, within the city of Prince George. Over time the site grew and incorporated a small garden and from 1828 cows and pigs were added to the agricultural base. By the 1890s, the post still contained a variety of buildings reflecting the men, the fur trade, local agriculture, and the ever present smoke house used for curing salmon.

I remember this story: I wonder if I have enough information to make this a “Death and Murders Story?” Think ye? Anyway, Connolly’s journal continues:

In the evening we met an Indian called Tal-pay Who informed me that he had a few Furs which he was desirous of giving in part of his debt at Fraser’s Lake. He was requested to go for them, and in the mean time the Brigade continued on and reached a place called Hamilto, where we Encamped. The Indians we found here also supplied us with Salmon, and have a great quantity than any of those we have hitherto seen. Weather cloudy.

18th Monday. Rained during the last night, and occasionally throughout the day, but not sufficiently to arrest our progress until towards evening when it increased to a complete pour, which obliged us to encamp at an earlier hour than we wished. At Chal-a-ook-cheeks [Chala-oo-chick], which we passed this morning, we saw Naw-whalh-Tle, the Chief, and his band, who have very few furs, and no less abundance of Salmon. All we could get from them was a sufficiency for one meal. In the afternoon we were overtaken by Tel-pay who proceeded in company & Encamped with us. He delivered me nine Beaver Skins in part of his debts, and I advanced him two steel Traps which he expressed a wish of obtaining to enable him to Hunt. I also made him a present of a little Ammunition & Tobacco. He bears the character of being an industrious Indian, but for some time past has been very unwell. He is now on the recovery, & promises to exert himself. I have thought it advisable to reduce the steel Traps from 15 to 8 Beaver each. The former price was so exorbitant that it put it out of the power of many to procure any such, and of the whole to provide themselves with the number they require to make successful Hunts.

19th Tuesday. Embarked at dawn of day. In our progress we passed two small parties of Indians, from whom we got a few Fresh Salmon. They tell us it is only within these eight days that they are caught here in any abundance. Encamped about ten miles below Chinlac, on the forks formed by the Rivers issuing from Stuarts and Fraser’s Lakes. Rained at intervals throughout the Day.

20th Wednesday. Proceeded early in the morning, & reached the forks of Chinlac at ten o’clock, where a small band of Indians have Encamped who also supply us with Salmon. At Eleven we proceeded from thence, and Encamped at seven, in the midst of a long chain of Raids, the upper end of which we will not gain until tomorrow night. The day was fine, but in the Evening it recommenced raining, with an appearance of its continuing all night.

21st Thursday. Rained best part of the night, and during the Day we had several showers. In the Evening we got to the head of the Rapids, when whence to Stuarts Lake the water is smooth and Current weak, with the exception of a couple of small Rapids.

22nd Friday. At Break of day we Embarked, And having met with no obstructions we proceeded a long distance, and Encamped a few miles below Qua’s old village. We again had several showers of Rain.

23rd Saturday. Two Hours before Day light we proceeded from our Encampment, and reached the Entrance of Stuarts Lake at 12 o’clock PM, & the Fort an hour after, where I found Mr. George McDougall & people belonging to the Establishment all well or at least alive, for they have passed a wretched Summer which their appearance sufficiently bespeaks.

So we have more or less reached the end of William Connolly’s brigade journal. There are lots of little stories in here, which I may address at a later date. It seems to me that there was also a massacre at Chinlac, and I know that Anderson speaks of it. But for now, let us continue with Peter Warren Dease’s journal.

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

Tuesday 6 [September]. Left Fort George at 1 PM & put ashore above the first village, no salmon to be got from the Natives & provisions scarce.

7. My Canoe was broken badly & filled before it could be unloaded. The Bales were opened & Dried while the Canoe was mended which Kept us from 11 AM to 4.30 PM when we pushed off. Passed a village where a few Salmon were procured.

Thursday 8. Breakfasted at White mud portage & put up some miles below the upper Stoney Islands, 

9th. Passed Stoney Islands and got to Chinlac Forks at sunset, found 2 families of Indians of Fraser’s Lake from whom I received a few furrs on their debts & supplied them with a Beaver Trap & some Ammunition to enable them to hunt These Indians are almost starving, no salmon & Stuarts Lake River, they say, is Extremely low. I therefore hired a Wooden Canoe to Exempt the Canoes from making a Double trip to the head of the Rapid.

10. 2 of the Indians take up one of them [a canoe] with 9 Pieces. The other with 2 men in it has 10. Before putting up one of them was broken in the Rapid & were obliged to send back for the Pieces & put up for the night being about half way up the Rapids.

Sunday 11. Got up the Rapids at 10 AM, lost 2 hours to Gum the Canoes. The Indians were paid for their trouble & went back to their Camp. Yesterday & to-day had to deal out rations of Corn & flour to all hands.

12. This afternoon passed Hoolson’s Lodge, where most of the Indians of Stuart’s Lake are assembled to spear Salmon, there being only some of the large Kind Called Kase to be got, none of the small Salmon has Come up the River which is a bad sign, and none can be Expected at this season.

The large salmon, called Kase in this district, were the Chinook, and the smaller the Ta-lo, or sockeye. You can read all about the New Caledonia salmon in this post:  

Procured 12 Salmon from them & having Given each a piece of tobacco proceeded some distance above where one of the Canoes was broken & obliged to put ashore to repair. Put up about 9 miles from the Lake.

Tuesday 13. Arrived at the House at 9 AM. Mr. [Thomas] Dears and all the men well, the Indians bring no salmon, but 4 have been hitherto given to them. Received letters from Mr. [Charles] Roussain of the 31st Ulto. informing me that although the salmon is not so abundant as it has been Known he Expects to trade a considerable Quantity. Wastayp Campbell & Alexis (the Boy) are here from that Post. The Returns are only about 3 Packs Furrs, but has more Beavers than all last years returns. ..

Charles Roussain was in charge of the Babine Post, from whence the district got much of its salmon in the years when there were none in the Fraser River. Babine Lake was connected by its own river to the Pacific Ocean, and so the salmon ran there when they ran nowhere else. Oh, and by the way, Wastayp Campbell is mentioned here. He is the subject of another delicious little murder story!! There is no dearth of Death and Murder in this district.

So I believe this is the last post in the Brigade Journals thread. I hope you enjoyed them, and learned something from it all. There is lots of history in this province, or I should say in this territory West of the Rockies — and it is ignored all too often! It is really important to remember our history — at least little bits of it.

If you want to go back to the beginning of this series and read the whole thing, click here:

Copyright, Nancy Marguerite Anderson, 2018. All rights reserved.