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rivers. The Great Bear Lake, the most northerly, is 150 miles in diameter, and communicates by Lake Martin with the Great Slave Lake, which is estimated at 260 miles from east to west, and 30 from north to south. Captain Back considers it as large as Lake Michigan; its soundings are from 40 to 60 fathoms. The north side of the lake is an entire jumble of rocks and hills; the south is level, not a hill or stone to be found. The Great Slave River joins this lake to that of Athabasca, which is 180 miles long and 15 broad,--receives the Peace, Athabasca, and Stone Rivers; the latter river forms the channel which conveys a portion of the waters of the Wollaston Lake (situated on table land) into Athabasca Lake; another portion of the waters of Wollaston Lake flows in a contrary direction through Deer Lake and River into the Missinnippi, Churchill, or English River, which forms several smaller lakes, and finally disembogues into Hudson's Bay, at Fort Churchill, in latitude 55° 45' north, longitude 94° 25' west.
Lake Winnipeg, in latitude 50° 20' to 530 45' north, is 240 miles long, and from 5 to 50 broad. It receives the River Saskatchewan, as it flows from the Rocky Mountains and northern ridge; also the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, and discharges itself into Hudson's Bay by the Nelson and other rivers. Winnipegos and Manitoba are branch or tributary lakes to Winnipeg.
That the trend of the land, and the dip, is towards Hudson's Bay and the eastward, is evident from the course of the Red River, which rises in about the parallel of 46°; flows to the northward across the American boundary parallel of 49°; joins the Assiniboine, or Nadawosis River, at Fort Garry, in 50° north latitude, and then disembogues into the south-western part of Lake Winnipeg, which, as before stated, discharges into Hudson's Bay.
The Moose River, which flows from the dividing ridge of highlands, which separates the Hudson's Bay territories from Canada, runs for 230 miles in a north-east direction, and has its embouche in James's Bay, lat. 51° 10' north, long. 81° west.
The country between the sources of the Assiniboine, in 511
north, and the Red River, is almost a continued plain, the soil of sand and gravel, with a slight intermixture of earth, which produces a short grass, but trees are rare. The country around the southern part of Lake Winipeg is well wooded and watered, and abounds at seasons with herds of buffalo and deer; so also contiguous to the Winipegos Lake and Swan River, and along the route from Carlton to Isle la Crosse Forts in the 55th parallel. The northern part of Lake Winipeg is composed of banks of naked black and grey rock. Farther north occasionally greener spots are to be met with: some of the islands in the Great Slave Lake are clothed with tall poplars, birch, and pines, and well stocked with deer. Near the portage La Loche is a precipice upwards of 100 feet above the plain, from whence, according to Mackenzie, there is a ravishing prospect :'—the Swan (Pelican or Clear Water) River meanders for thirty miles through a valley about three miles in breadth, confined by two lofty ridges of equal height, displaying a delightful intermixture of wood and lawn. Some parts of the inclining heights are covered with stately forests, relieved by verdant promontories, where the elk and buffalo enjoy delicious pasturage.
The route from the Red River settlement (Fort Garry) to Fort Chipewyan, on Lake Athabasca, was traversed in December 1836, by Mr. Thomas Simpson, by the following stages, in a very short space of time :
These, and other forts and stations, are necessarily wide apart, and in situations favourable to water communications, and to procuring animal, or, if possible, vegetable food.
The aspect of part of the country in which these forts are constructed, is thus noted by Mr. Simpson :-Fort Garry, the principal station of the Red River Settlement, is situated at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, about fifty miles from Lake Winipeg, and is environed by plains; proceeding north-west the country is studded with a few copses of poplar and dwarf oak; but the greater part having been swept by the running fires in 1835 (SO frequent and terrible in the prairies), presented a blackened and dismal aspect. There were a number of small natural mounds on which lay fragments of limestone, the great basis of the plain region, and quantities of little shells were strewn about in every direction.
The soil and climate about Manitoba, or Evil Spirit' Lake, is similar to that of the Red River. At Winipegos Lake the oak region terminates ; but the shores are clothed with elm, poplar, and a few ash, birch, and pine-trees. The water in this lake is. brackish in summer. At Duck Bay the first wood of pines was
The route from thence to Fort Pelly, south-west, lies through swampy meadows, alternating with woods of poplar, fringed with willow, and a few straggling clumps of pine in the neighbourhood of the Swan River and Duck Mountain, with its “ rude and impassable heights.' Thence west to north lie the Porcupine Hills, wooded to the very summit. Thunder Hills are about two miles in breadth, steep; and beyond them to the northward is Fort Pelly, in 51° 45' 20" north latitude—102° 5 west, near the bank of the Assiniboine River. The track thence to Fort Carlton, lies through gently undulating eminences along the wooded banks of the tortuous Assiniboine, thence due west, leaving the Assiniboine far to the south, over a hillocky country, tolerably wooded, and abounding in small lakes and swamps to the west end of Stoney Lake, through a country consisting of narrow plains, studded with clumps of poplar, interspersed with little lakes and swamps; a great part of this district had been recently overrun by fire. Changing the course from west to west south-west, the traveller reaches the immense prairies of the
Saskatchewan River, of which entire tracts are frequently bared by fire to the very soil. The cold in these plains in winter, with the wind from the westward, is terrific; there is not a shrub or even a blade of grass to break the force of the blast, whose temperature is at least 40° below zero. The only exposed part of the traveller, the eye-lashes, becomes speedily covered with a heavy crop of icicles, which the half-frozen fingers have a difficulty in removing. These plains in summer are frequented by the Indians as hunting grounds. The heat in these wild plains is as unbearable in summer as is the cold in winter. Throughout this country, says Sir G. Simpson, every thing is in unparalleled extremes. Cold and excessive heat,-long droughts balanced by drenching rain and destructive hail (sometimes 5] inches in circumference). At one period both whites and natives are living in wasteful abundance on venison, buffalo, fish, and game-at others reduced to the last degree of hunger, often passing several days without food. In 1820, when wintering at Athabasca Lake, Sir George Simpson says, he was for three days and nights without a morsel of food. Frequently hundreds of fine buffaloes are killed for the tongues alone. On one occasion Sir G. Simpson saw several thousand buffaloes putrifying the air for miles around. Unsheltered plains extend far to the south, to the ridges in latitude 490, whence the Missouri descends. One of the prairies of the Saskatchewan crossed by Mr. Simpson, was fourteen miles wide, and only a few willows were thinly scattered on its surface. The country south of the Saskatchewan towards Assiniboine, has in various places lakes as salt as the Atlantic Ocean. As this region, which extends to the Rocky Mountains, has been erroneously considered adapted for European colonization, the following extract from Mr. Thomas Simpson's Journal may help to dispel the illusion. “ Christmas Day, Sunday, the 25th: On shaking off our slumbers this glad morning, a troop of wolves were 'baying the moon,' as she rode in a cloudless sky. The country before us being intricate, we could not start till daylight; and, when we sallied forth on our day's march, the weather had
moderated. About two miles from our resting-place, we passed over a round hill, and stood awhile on its summit to enjoy the boundless prospect. From west to south stretched a vast plain, separated from another, of which we had a bird's-eye glimpse to the north-east, by the broad belt of woods which we had been skirting along; while, before us, in our line of march, lay outspread a seemingly endless tract of open underwood, varied by gently swelling eminences. For seven miles our route led westnorth-west, through thickets and over hillocks; it then changed to west for fourteen miles, through a more open country, consisting of rising grounds, or “côteaus," with bare ridges, and sides clothed with dwarf poplar and brushwood; while here and there, in the hollows, we crossed large ponds, scarcely deserving, on this continent, the title of lakes. They have no outlet ; and on cutting through the ice for water, we generally found it putrid: such, however, is its scarcity in that level country, that we were often fain to use it when most nauseous, taking the precaution of imbibing it through snow, which purifies it in some slight degree. We now turned west-south-west for eight miles, keeping along a broad and rather winding ridge, which appeared to furnish the buffalo with a regular road of ingress to the woods. Several tracks of moose-deer were also seen during the day. After sunset, we took up our quarters in a small clump of poplars. The whole country having been ravaged by fire, we could not find dry grass, as usual, for our beds, and spread our Christmas couch on willow branches; rough indeed, but rendered smooth to us by health and exercise."
Mr. Robert Greenhow, in his History of California, Oregon, and other territories on the north-west coast of America, before referred to, speaking of the countries in the occupation of the Hudson's Bay Company with respect to colonization, says, p. 37:- North of the 50° parallel, the climate is more moist; but its extreme coldness renders the country of little value for agriculture. The only part at which any settlement has been attempted, is that of the Red River, where, about 5000 persons,