Page images

owner, for

from memory

to the description of the happy islands-reddit ubi Cererem tellus inarata quotannis—there is an instance, I was assured, of a farm, in which the owner, with comparatively slight labour in the preparatory processes, had taken a wheat crop out of the same land for eighteen successive years— never changing the crop, never manuring the land, and never suffering it to lie fallow; and that the crop was abundant to the last. And with respect to pasture and hay, they are to be had ad libitum, as Nature gives them in the open plains. The Company dispose of their land upon liberal terms, with a frontage along the river, and I think the uniform depth of a mile,--with an understanding that, till further arrangements take place, another mile is at the disposal of the


benefits which he can derive from it. I speak

It is only a small portion of the farms, next the river, that is ever seen enclosed. The people revel in abundance; but it is all for home consumption: they have no outlet, no market for their produce. The liberality of the Company is also evinced in their permitting private traders to import goods in the Company's ships, although they, the Company, have stores of their own within the forts,-in which articles of the same description are for sale. All these articles are brought across from Hudson's Bay, a distance of several hundred miles, in boats; and these boats are drawn across the different portages upon rollers, or, in some places, carried upon waggons. Hence, those articles which are of a heavy description, are charged at a price seemingly out of all proportion to that of many others, which may be obtained at a moderate rate. A common grinding-stone is sold for twenty shillings sterling. The Company, who by their Charter have the privilege of issuing money, transact all their pecuniary concerns in British sterling, which differs considerably, as is well known, from the currency received in the North American colonies of the Crown. Their issue of paper is in three denominations, the highest of which is one pound; and the three are distinguished from each other, for the convenience of the natives by the different colours of the ink: red, blue, and black. The

boat has been now substituted for the canoe, upon all the lines of route on which the operations of the Company are regularly conducted, except on that which leads into Canada. The country in this direction is not of such a nature as to admit of introducing the roller or the waggon upon the portages. At the Red River, and on Lake Superior, there may be seen, in the service of the Company, small-decked sailing vessels, which ply between the ports. The number of bark and wooden canoes, kept for one purpose or other by the inhabitants of the Red River, is 410. In the palmy days of the North-west Company, when the peltries, now sent home by Hudson's Bay, were taken down to be shipped at Montreal, the brigades of canoes amounted sometimes to forty in the season. The name of brigade is still given to the two or three loaded canoes which start yearly from La Chine for the Red River ; but the voyageur's occupation is almost gone.'— (Bishop of Montreal's Journal, p. 92 to 1092. Published by Seeley, Hatchard, & Nisbett, in 1845.)

The Bishop of Montreal says of the Red River Settlement, that “it affords a wonderfully striking example of good brought by the hand of God out of evil.' His lordship thus describes the churches there :- Along the strip of settlement which occupies, with interruptions, the opposite sides of the river, the four English churches are situated. The Indian church is about thirteen miles below the lower church at the rapids; this again is about six from the middle church; and the middle church about seven from the upper. The Indian church is a wooden building, painted white, fifty feet or upwards in length, with a cupola over the entrance. It has square-topped windows, which, so far, give it an unecclesiastical appearance. The lower church is also of wood, and of the length of fifty feet. The middle church, which is not quite completed, and which has been built by the unaided exertions of the congregation, is an edifice of stone, sixty feet long. The upper church, which is also of stone, is ten feet longer, and will accommodate 500 persons. About 400, upon one occasion, met me there. It contains some respectable mural monuments;

among others, one which was put up in memory of Mrs. Jones, wife of the gentleman who long laboured as a missionary of the society, and is affectionately remembered upon the spot. None of the churches have any sort of architectural pretensions, but the two stone churches are creditable-looking buildings.'-(Pages 79 to 81.)

In another passage of his journal the Bishop conveys an impression of the state of society at the Hudson's Bay Company's forts at the Red River, and shews the progress of the settlement. • I had, at the forts, the command of horses for my daily movements, and every accommodation afforded to me within, and every facility abroad, which I could require. At the Lower Fort I was the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Finlayson, who were in temporary occupation, being en route for La Chine, where Mr. Finlayson had been appointed to the charge of the depôt. He had just retired from the appointment of Governor of Assiniboia, for so the chief factor is styled-in an instrument with the Company's seal attached to it—who has charge within the Red River Colony in the territory. He was succeeded by Mr. Christie, who had just taken possession of the Upper Fort, where the residence of the Governor is made. Mrs. Finlayson, a lady from England, is sister to Lady Simpson, and cousin to Sir George. Mr. and Mrs. Christie have a daughter, who had just returned from England, where she had passed some years in completing her education. Mr. Thom, the Recorder of the territory, an exceedingly able man, possessing a varied range of information, and deeply engaged, latterly, in biblical studies, has apartments, with his lady and children, within the Lower Fort. There are scattered about the settlement several respectable retired factors or traders of the Company, of whom Mr. Bird is one ; some married to European, more to native wives. What I have here stated may give an idea of the society at the Red River. Although the style of the establishments at the forts is exceedingly plain, and the extreme difficulty of transport, as well as the isolated character and remote situation of the place itself, cause a variety of articles

to be dispensed with to which some of the inmates—Mrs. Finlayson, for example-have been elsewhere accustomed, yet there is far from a deficiency there to be witnessed, either of comforts or of habits of refinement.'—(Pages 89 to 92.)

These impartial statements convey a lucid view of the actual condition of affairs at this distant and alnuost isolated British settlement, on which no care or expense has been spared by the Hudson's Bay Company to render it a happy and prosperous establishment. Its communications with England - are for goods viá Hudson's Bay-during the summer season, and for personal travelling and letters, viâ Montreal, from which the Red River is distant 1800 miles. The Company have, along this line, about ten stockaded posts. The Bishop of Montreal traversed the distance in thirty-eight days.

We may now proceed to examine the Pacific Coast and the Rocky Mountains, whose highest ridges are in the parallels of 52° to 530, about 8500 feet. Some peaks rise to 15 and 16,000 feet, but the general range is 4000 to 6000 feet, diminishing in height towards the north. This granitic mountain chain is from 50 to 100 miles wide. The country termed New Caledonia, between the Rocky Mountains and Cascade Mountains, near the coast of the Pacific, is well watered, undulating in bold swells, with occasional plains and copses, and an abundance of forest trees, of which the cedar, fir, and hemlock, grow to a prodigious size.

In New Caledonia, the Hudson's Bay Company have several stations, and also in the adjacent country. Fort Alexandria, in 520 30' north, is the residence of one of the Company's chief traders, and here the navigation of Frazer's River is begun by the northern brigade on their way to the north. A small open space is cleared for a few cattle, bat the rest of the country is covered with a dense forest. Fort Thompson, on the Kamloop’s river, is in 50° 38' north, and 120° 7' 10" west. Frazer's, Babine's, and McLeod's Forts, are on the lakes of the same names. Fort St. James, on Stuart's Lake, was the residence of Chief Factor Ogden, who bad charge of the New Caledonia Department.

Frazer's River flows through New Caledonia, but is not navigated below Fort Thompson, owing to its dangerous falls. The distances from Fort Thompson to Fort Alexandria by land is 150 miles, and thence to Fort James 120. Commodore Wilkes says that the climate of this region is unfavourable to agriculture, in consequence of its being situated between the two ranges of mountains, viz. the Rocky Mountains on the east, and the Cascade Mountains (of the coast) on the west, both of which ranges are constantly covered with snow, and in the plains or villages snow lies from November to May six feet deep. The Commodore adds, “there are many spots of fertile land along the rivers, but the early frosts are a great obstacle to agriculture. At St. James, Babine, and Frazer's Forts only potatoes and turnips can be cultivated.'

Frazer's River has its embouche six miles to the north of the 49th parallel, which defines the United States' boundary. It is about a mile wide, the country around low, with a rich alluvial soil. Fort Langley is 20 miles from the mouth.

Mr. Greenhow says (p. 29) that, the territory north of the 49th parallel, and north-west of that drained by the Colombia River (New Caledonia), is a sterile land of snow-clad mountains, tortuous rivers, and lakes frozen over more than two-thirds of the year, presenting scarcely a single spot in which any of the vegetables used as food by civilized people can be produced.'

Sir George Simpson made a journey of 2000 miles in 47 days from the Red River viâ Fort Edmonton to Fort Colvile in 1841. He crossed the Rocky Mountains at the confluence of two of the sources of the Saskatchewan and Colombia, near Fort Kotanie, at an elevation of 8000 feet above the sea, with mountains rising about half that altitude around. The descending country to the Kotanie River was rugged and boggy, with thick and tangled forests, craggy peaks and dreary vales, here and there hills of parched clay,—where every shrub and blade of grass was brown and sapless, as if newly swept by the blast of a sirocco; with occasional prairies and open swards, interspersed with gloomy woods or burning pine forests. In one place a valley was seen

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »