Friday, October 18, 2013

My new website and Blog

Good morning, everyone.
I have been a little busy lately, as you may know.
I have been setting up a new website. 
It was such a frustrating job, and I had so little time that I finally hired a professional to do it.
It's been up and running for a while, and I have enough information on the blog that I feel I can now promote it. 

On my new blog I will be writing about the transportation systems used by the Hudson's Bay Company -- the York Factory Express, the Brigades, and the London Ships.
I will put in the rest of the Anderson information I have, including information about the Japanese shipwreck on the Washington coast, 1834.

Will I post anything more on this old blog?
I don't know. 
But there's still lots of reading to do on it, so enjoy.
It is just not easy to travel around this blog to find the old posts -- and this is the huge advantage I find with WordPress.
You can categorize types of articles, so if anyone is interested in the brigade trails and only the brigade trails (for example) they can click on the brigade trail category and read only articles re: that particular subject.

The website is found at:
My new blog is attached to that website. 

Click here for the Website.
The blog is on the right hand side of site.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Aha! New problems with my website....

No, it didn't crash. It works fine. But I am entering my new blogposts on the blog called while my website guy has moved everything over to a new site, attached to my website, called

Frankly, his is the better choice, and so we will go with that! Better name, less likely to be confused with this site.

It took me a while to figure out why my blog wasn't decorated -- why new blogposts weren't appearing on my website as promised, why, why, why.

So, anyway, it will be figured out and fixed, but I think that will be deleted, and the work continued in

So if you wish, you can whisk over to the other furtradefamilyhistory site and see my two most recent posts (on the wrong blog), but they will appear on the other.

It's very confusing. I'm confused, but I now I understand what's going on.

So, keep an eye on my website at
My new blog posts will appear there.
And there's tons of stuff on this blog that I can continue to post on Twitter and other places, to keep the stories going.

Thanks, everyone.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My new website

My new website and blog is up and running, and I think all the kinks have been ironed out of yet.
You will not yet find it by googling it; it takes a couple of weeks for google to find a new website.
So to find it immediately, click on the link which I have enclosed below:
Here it is!
Go to ......

and voila.
You who know the fur trade will recognize the flower on my header -- the camas.
I will write the flower's story for everyone else who will be new to the site.
See you there!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A little more on some of the men in the Fur Trade -- some of them from the West of the Mountains

I have told you that my new blog is up and running, and its address is at
Much of the information on this blog will be familiar to people who have followed this blog from the beginning -- there will however be more coming that you have not heard of.
I am concentrating on that blog at the moment, and so you might feel a little ignored.
Its decorations are coming....

Changes are coming to this blog as well: I will probably keep this going as a research blog, and completed information will be transferred onto the Wordpress blog, where appropriate.

However, to carry on from the previous post, I have learned a few more things about some of the men I have already spoken of.
George McDougall, who built Fort Alexandria about 1821, and who afterward remained in the fur trade on the east side of the Rocky Mountains, was a man I got quite fond of.
It seemed that he was a warm and friendly man who everyone liked.
In a letter from John Rowand of Edmonton House, written from the Saskatchewan District on the 29th of December, 1849.
McDougall went out to York Factory with the express in the command of John Charles.
He returned to Edmonton House and apparently made his way to Fort Assiniboine -- but he never reached his home base at Lesser Slave Lake.
Rowand gave this report: "As the time is approaching for the departure of our annual express, I beg leave to bring under your notice the few incidents that have occurred since my arrival at this place [with the incoming York Factory express].
"The distribution of the Outfit for the several Outposts was completed as early as possible. On the 29th September the several Gentlemen were off for their respective stations. On the 14th October I received intelligence of the death of Mr. Geo. McDougall -- that gentleman died on his way to Slave Lake in the Athabasca River after a short illness of five or six days; in consequence of this unfortunate & unforeseen circumstance on the 16th I was under the necessity of sending Mr. Christie to adjust the Company's affairs of Slave Lake, leaving Louis Chastellain in charge for the time being, as it was necessary for that Gentleman to return hither..."

So now you know. McDougall had no wife and children (though his brother James, did) and so there will be no descendants to be interested in this story. Its almost a shame. Like I said, I found him a very likable man.

Here's a new story, and its a gruesome one! You will remember some time ago I blogged portions of the York Factory Express's journeys from the Columbia, to Hudson's Bay and back.
In one of these journals I mentioned the artist, whose name I thought was Hood.
The actual quote is: "We commenced our ascent of the Trout River, which having done for 1 1/2 miles, we arrived at the Trout Falls, one of the most dangerous rapids or falls on the line of Communication.
"We encampt at the Head of these falls, two of our Boats having fallen again in the rear.
"These falls with the surrounding scenery afforded a fine subject for the Pencil of poor [Hood], but the heightening of the Landscape, by the Silver tints of the Moon's rays shooting above a projecting point of wood on the opposite shore & playing upon the agitated surface of these fierce falls, made me regret that they were not similarly presented to him, as they were to me this evening, which added much of their natural grandeur."

As you see, I wasn't even sure what the artist's name was, which presents quite a challenge.
But I found him immediately.
An article from "Arctic Profiles" tells me his full name was Robert Hood, born in 1797 and dead by 1821.
Hood was a member of the Franklin exhibition, 1819-22 -- a mapmaker who made incredibly accurate maps of the Arctic coastline during this single journey.
But on their return journey, eleven out of twenty members of Franklin's party died -- and Hood was one of them.
From Antony Brandt's book, The Man Who Ate his Boots: the Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage, comes this story.
It is needless for me to tell you that the returning party was in great distress at this time, and separated into various clusters of men were spread over the snowy wastes that surrounded Franklin's Fort Enterprise:

"Eleven men died in all. Not all of them died of starvation. Four men -- Jean-Baptiste Bellanger, Michel Teroahaute, the Iroquois, followed shortly after by Fontana and Perrault -- had left Franklin's party early in October to struggled the five miles back to the willow grove where Richardson, Hood, and Hepburn were camped. Only Michel arrived. Richardson never wrote up in his journal an actual day-by-day account of what happened after that, but he did prepare an official report to the Admiralty. Those days were spent, he said, hunting for the lichen that poor Hood could not eat and trying to snare partridges. Michel came and went as he wished, keeping himself apart, behaving in a hostile and surly manner. One evening he brought back a piece of what he said was a wolf that a caribou had killed with his antlers, and they ate it, but later Richardson would come to believe that it was a piece of a man he brought back, Belanger or maybe Perrault.

"No one knows whether he actually killed these men, or whether they collapsed on the way back to Richardson's camp. It is certain that he killed Hood. By the eighteenth Hood was "so weak as to be scarcely able to sit up at the fire-side, and complained that the least breeze of wind seemed to blow through his frame." He gathered the strength nevertheless to argue with Michel, telling him it was his duty to hunt for them and to bring wood to the fire, which Michel refused to do, while threatening at the same time to leave them and go to the fort by himself. On the twentieth, while Richardson was out of the camp looking for tripe de roche, he heard a gunshot, and Hepburn yelled to him to return right away. Hood was in their tent, shot through the head. Michel claimed that Hood had shot himself, but that was impossible. He had been shot through the back of his head, with a rifle. "Although I dared not," Richardson explained, "openly to evince any suspicion that I thought Michel guilty of the deed, yet he repeatedly protested to me that he was incapable of committing such an act, kept constantly on his guard, and carefully avoided leaving Hepburn and me together."

"The next day they set out for Fort Enterprise. On the twenty-third, as they were struggling south, Michel began threatening them, told them he hated the white people, by whom he meant the French voyageurs, "some of whom, he said, had killed and eaten his uncle and two of his relations." Michel was well armed. He had besides his gun "two pistols, an Indian bayonet, and a knife." Hepburn and Richardson had no strength left and expected him to turn on them at the first opportunity. When they came to a rock where there was some tripe de roche, Michel stayed behind to gather it, and Richardson and Hepburn seized the opportunity, the first they had had, to compare notes. Hepburn offered to do the deed, but Richardson said no, he would do it himself. when Michel came up to them, Richardson put a bullet through his head. Then they looked in his pouch. Michel had in fact gathered no tripe de roche."

So there you are. In the Arctic Profiles article, mention is made of the cannibalism that occurred on this long foot journey, and Franklin himself said, on his arrival at Fort Chipewyan: "To tell the truth, .. things have taken place which must not be known." It is clearly stated that "Richardson and Hepburn, his two remaining companions in the straggling rearward group, owed their survival in part to eating, knowingly or unknowingly, some human flesh and Hood's buffalo robe."

All of John Franklin's explorations in the Arctic (except those done by ship, I presume) were done under the auspices and with the help of the Hudson's Bay Company. They are stories of exploration, but they are also fur trade stories.

Some of you will know that the original quote from whence I started the above story was written by the fabulous failure, Lieutenant Aemelius Simpson, cousin of the governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, who was travelling to the west coast to take charge of one of the HBC's ships.
In his Lives Lived, Bruce Watson has this to say of him:
He was born in Dingwall, Ross, Scotland, and died at Fort Simpson on the Northwest Coast, in 1831.
It was his grave that the furtraders (including James Birnie and Alexander Caulfield Anderson) removed from the old Fort Simpson and buried in the new, in 1834 (page 47 of my book, The Pathfinder.)
Aemelius Simpson "introduced the first apple trees to the North Pacific Coast and had an HBC post named after him... Aemelius joined the Royal Navy as a voluntary midshipman in 1806 and rose to the rank of Lieutenant before retiring in 1816.
"Upon the recommendation of George Simpson in 1826, he  joined the company as a hydrographer and surveyor reaching Fort Vancouver on November 2, 1826 as superintendent of shipping of the west coast.
"The following year, he was given command of the Cadboro when it arrived. That year he took soundings in the Fraser River and helped found Fort Langley. Three years later in 1829 he was involved in trading negotiations with the Russian American Company in Sitka.
"He became a chief trader in 1830 and the following year helped to establish a post at the mouth of the Nass River where he died in 1831. The post was later moved to the Tsimshian Peninsula and renamed Fort Simpson in his honour. His body was also removed to the new site, re-interred and surrounded by a white picket fence."

There is more information on Aemelius Simpson, and this comes from The Free Library at
This source tells us that Simpson had seen much of the world before making his transcontinental journey in 1826, when he was a Royal Navy officer on half-pay travelling as a passenger with the HBC brigade and Columbia express. "He was a novice who lacked the authoritative voice of someone who had spent half his life bartering or animal pelts.."
But because he was a novice, he described a part of the world that the fur traders never did. For this reason alone, his journal is important to some researchers.

Aemelius Simpson's duty on the west coast was to take charge of the little ship Cadboro, which was being delivered to Fort Vancouver from England.
On his death in 1831, Archibald McDonald (then of Fort Langley) wrote: "Among the latter [deaths] we have to lament the loss of poor Lieutenant Simpson who died on board his own vessel .... Independent of his loss to the concern I regret him very much as a private friend. I am sorry to say with you in confidence however, that he was not over-popular with us -- the cause you know as well as I do."

Chief Factor Duncan Finlayson made a similar remark: "He departed this life ... much lamented and regretted and whatever feelings might be entertained toward him during his career in the past of the country there is now but one of general sympathy for his untimely end."
It appears that Lieutenant Simpson was a misfit in the fur trade.
He attempted to bring the protocol and discipline of the Royal Navy to the unruly fur traders west of the Rocky Mountains, and that did not work!
Historian H.H. Bancroft stated (from information he collected many years later) that Aemelius Simpson had demanded that his sailors' "hands must be incased in kid before he could give an order on his own deck in the daylight, and if the occasion was perilous or peculiar, his gloves must be white kid. Form was nine-tenths of the law with him and the other tenth conformity."

But Governor Simpson did not criticize his cousin in his infamous "Character Book."
In fact he praised him (something that did not happen often):
"About forty years of age. A namesake and Relation of my own, whom I should not have introduced into the Fur Trade, had I not known him to be a man of high character and respectable abilities. He has occupied the most dangerous posts in the Service since he came to the country, and his whole public and private Conduct and Character have been unexceptional."

Governor Simpson also later noted that Aemelius was "as good a little fellow as ever breathed, honourable, above board and to the point.
"He may be a disciplinarian but it was very necessary among the Vagabonds he had to deal with.
"The Drunken wretched creature [Thomas] Sinclair could afford him no support, he was therefore under the necessity of doing all the dirty work of cuffing & thunking himself... I have (laying all other claims & feeling aside) a very great respect for his character & high opinion of his worth."

I can't imagine what the above-mentioned "cuffing & thunking" was, but I think you will agree: There are lots of good stories in the fur trade.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Coming soon: Website and new blog

I will keep you up with the news on that: needless to say its creation is causing me some stress (as I accidentally delete "About" Pages and don't know how to replace them, for example). I am in the process of hiring a professional to make a really good site, and look forward to it being functional!

However my new blog is up and running and has a half dozen posts on it -- it is found at
As you can see I am concentrating on Alexander Caulfield Anderson in this blog, and so you might recognize some of the items posted as they have come from this blog, more or less intact.

Also, in the meantime, I have another book underway, and it is coming along quite quickly. I will need information from some of the people who have followed me for a while, and perhaps I will find new fur trade descendants as well.

John Lee Lewes will be a fairly major character in this book, and as I already am in touch with his descendant I do not need to talk to another -- unless of course you have information that neither of us has! By the way, I think that John Lee Lewes suffered from phantom limb pain -- an illness the doctors at that time were certainly unable to deal with and one that mystifies medical personnel today. One of the persons to whom my book is dedicated had a limb amputated and went through phantom limb pain. He was highly intelligent and knew exactly what caused the condition but still suffered from it -- he said it was most odd.

There are other characters I know little of but who appear regularly in this manuscript. One of them is George McDougall, the founder of Fort Alexandria. This is what Bruce McIntyre Watson says about McDougall:
Birth: probably Montreal, c.1788 (Canadian Scottish)
Death: probably at Lesser Slave Lake, 1850
George McDougall, brother of James McDougall, appears to have been working in the Peace River in 1815 for the HBC party commanded by John Clark. Around that time he left the HBC at Fort Vermilion, and crossed the mountains to visit his brother James in the New Caledonia area. The following year, while he was in New Caledonia, he joined the NWC but continued on with the HBC after 1821. In the fall of 1821 he constructed Fort Alexandria, where Anderson spent so many of his years. Around 1826 he had some difficulty in establishing the Chilcotin post, which he was finally able to establish in 1830.
Joseph McGillivray said that George McDougall was an "unexceptionable man" but "an ifficent Trader." He left Fort Alexandria and continued his employment at Lesser Slave Lake, until at least 1843 -- it appears he remained a clerk the entire time and so was, perhaps, another of the men that Governor Simpson refused to reward with a chief Tradership!

Dr. William Todd will also be a character, and this is what Watson tells us about him:
Birth: Ireland, about 1784
Death: Red River Settlement, December 22, 1851
Irish born William Todd joined the HBC as a surgeon in 1816. Between 1816 and 1827 he was employed at a variety of posts east of the Rocky Mountains, and came over with the returning Express in September 1827. After a brief stint in the Columbia district he returned to Red River becoming Chief Trader in 1831. In that year Governor Simpson thought that, because of his lack of French, and his drinking habits, he would not go far in the fur trade. However William Todd worked for the HBC until his death twenty years later.

Pierre Chrysologue Pambrun -- a fascinating character in the fur trade west of the Mountains:
Birth: French Canadian born in Quebec City, December 1792
Death: Fort Nez Perces, May 1841
Pierre Pambrun was one of the few French Canadians to achieve the rank of Chief Trader. He served in the War of 1812 and reached the rank of lieutenant in the French Canadian Voltigeur regiment of the British army. After he joined the HBC in 1815, he was witness to, and gave evidence at the trials of the "Seven Oaks Massacre" in Red River. In 1831 he was posted west of the mountains. George Simpson admired him for his pluck, but had reservations about his business abilities though made him Chief Trader in 1839. Pambrun had a reputation for hospitality, especially among the first Americans to come west. He died when his horse fell on him at Walla Walla and injured him with the pummel of his Spanish saddle -- and so now I know that sometimes there were saddles in the fur trade. His horse (perhaps the one that killed him) ended up at Fort Alexandria and is mentioned by A. C. Anderson in the post journals.

I understand that Pambrun wore his red coat when he was trading with the Natives. So, too, did Archibald Norman McLeod -- another fabulous character! Both the McLeod River and McLeod Lake post are named for this man, and though he served at Fort St. James (and was in command of the place for the NWCo.) he is not mentioned in Bruce Watson's "Lives Lived."

So, who else do I need to know something more about? Charles Allan Griffin, for example.
He was born in Montreal and died in Ontario, July 1874.
Griffin joined the HBC from Montreal around 1846, and spent his first three years in two posts east of the Rockies. On June 9, 1849, he took his passage for Norway House on his way to the Columbia, and for the next three years he worked in the New Caledonia district as clerk, and eventually, Chief Trader. In 1853 he was at Fort Simpson; in 1859 he was in charge of the sheep farm on San Juan island during the dispute, and was the worker who asked the Americans to withdraw their troops from British territory. Dr. Helmcken described Griffin as a "splendid fellow -- a rushing active spirited lithesome and blithesome fellow -- a Canadian, at home with a canoe and horses -- a sort of typical Canadian young man -- with a French dash in him."

Now, that's the kind of information I need to have about all these fellows -- something that sets the man apart from the others!

Robert Clouston: I have some of his writing and believe me, he's funny! He was in Edmonton at Christmas 1850, about the time that James Sinclair was crossing the mountains, and wrote this of Sinclair: "James Sinclair after wandering about the plains and the borders of the Mountains, and having six horses stolen by the Blackfeet, made his appearance at Rocky Mountain House about the end of September, looking out for a guide, and he trifled and humbugged so long that the probability is that he was caught in the snow before he got quite through [the mountains] though we have heard nothing of him since...." His letters, found in the Donald Ross collection in BCA, are quite good and very chatty.
Anyway, Clouston will be in two upcoming books, and so here is a little about him, from Bruce Watson's "Lives Lived:"
Birth: Stromness, Orkey
Death: during a voyage on board the Fanny Major between the Sandwich Islands and San Francisco, August 1858.
Robert was the son of a Stromness merchant and HBC agent and joined the HBC on June 13, 1838, as an apprentice clerk. For the next twelve years he served in Edmonton, Oxford House, Upper and Lower Fort Garry and York Factory. Tall and active, Clouston usually wore a capote and red sash. He got tuberculosis from his wife, and in 1849 went to Scotland for a cure. In 1850 he came to the Columbia and ended up on the Sandwich Islands. He died, apparently, in a state of delirium brought on by his lingering tuberculosis, poor man.

However, I am looking at the dates that I have and discovered, I think, that we have two different Cloustons here -- one for each story. John Clouston was born in the Orkneys and came to Fort Vancouver where he died in August 1854. He was employed at Fort Vancouver by 1851 and died at the end of his contract. Well, I am going to have to be careful with my Cloustons, I can see!

Do I have time for one more furtrader? I think I do. Joseph Wordsworth Hardisty it is. He was born to Richard Hardisty and Margaret Sutherland in the Northwest Territories, in 1823, and he died in Quebec in 1906. He joined the HBC in 1847 as an apprentice post master but did a variety of tasks, including washing clothes. He rose through the ranks in a variety of positions in the Columbia and became a Chief Factor in 1872. I know that he was very much appreciated as a bookkeeper, both at Fort Vancouver and later at Fort Victoria, where he straightened out their very confused records! He retired from the fur trade in 1884. I believe he may be a great-grandson of Francois "Old Man" Beaulieu, through Beaulieu's daughter who married a fur trader named Hardisty. Perhaps a descendant can confirm that for me.

So can you guess what I am writing about? No, I didn't think so. But I need to know a little about quite a few fur trade characters, and so will have lots of other information coming here in future weeks. It just takes organization... and in the creative stages one is often quite short of that!

Thank you for your patience.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

More information re: Ovid Allard, and Jason his son

I have been speaking of Fort Langley and Ovid Allard, so let me tell you a few more stories about the man and the place, collected from various resources including the writing of local historian Bruce McKelvie, and James Robert Anderson, son of A.C.Anderson.

So here we go, from Mss 001, B.A. McKelvie, BCA, Box 24:
Jason the Fleece Hunter, by Jason Allard, Chapter 3
"My father, Ovid Allard, was a remarkable man in many ways. Although he entered the service of the great fur trading organization at the age of seventeen he had attained a grounding in classical education and useful arts that was uncommon with the majority of young men enlisted in the service from the Canadas. It was customary in those times to recruit the "gentlemen" in Scotland and England, and to engage the "servants" in the Canadas or from the Metis of Rupert's Land....
"It was in 1834 that Ovid Allard and Donald McLean, who was later to achieve prominence as a trader and eventually die in the Chilcotin War, joined the Hudson's Bay Company's service, appending their names to a formidable document that bound them to serve, day or night, and in any part of the continent where the company might direct. For forty years, until his death in 1874, Ovid Allard never faltered in that obligation -- and never once in that time did he revisit his boyhood home....
"It was with high hopes of rising in the company of such men that Ovid Allard and Donald McLean set out from Montreal on their great adventure. the next four years they were constantly on the move. Now at fort Garry; now on the Saskatchewan; now on an expedition to strange tribes in search of new sources of fur supply -- all over the Prairies they wandered, from Hudson's Bay to the Rocky Mountains, and from the sub-Arctic region to the Missouri. They were among those who constructed the fort where Boise, Idaho, now stands, and traveled with hunting parties of Blackfeet and Cree. then in 1839 they were separated. McLean was sent to Spokane, and my father was ordered to Fort Vancouver, where after a few months he was sent overland to Puget Sound to embark for Fort Langley.
"Shortly after his arrival at the fort on the Fraser he was delegated to assist in trading with the Indians. Francis Noel Annance, whom the Indians named "The War Chief" -- a title they later bestowed on my father -- was still occupying the post of Indian trader, a position which he held from the commencement of the establishment. It required patience, courage, tact and a sharp wit to be an Indian trader, and Annance possessed all these qualifications.
"A year after Ovid Allard was taken on to the strength of Fort Langley [sic] the place was destroyed by fire. He often told me of that terrible night; how the men risked their lives to save the property of the fort, neglecting their own meagre belongings.
"There was a Scottish woman by the name of Findlay. She was the wife of one of the men and one of the very few white women in the whole Western country. she was a wonderful butter-maker, and the fame of her butter spread to the far reaches of New Caledonia in the north. Her chief concern when fire broke out was for the safety of the pans of cream from which she planned to churn butter the following day.
""Who will save my cream?" she shouted, ringing her hands and catching at first one and then another scurrying figure. She grasped my father by the arm as he dashed back into the fort to carry out another load of trade goods. "My cream, my cream," she cried.
""Never mind your cream," he answered, "where are your children?" The woman gave a shriek. She had forgotten her two little tots, and it was fortunate that Ovid Allard remembered them, for it was with the greatest difficulty that he managed to get into the burning hut where they were asleep. He carried them to safety, just as some others arrived with the precious cream. And Mrs. Findlay, in her happiness at the recovery of her children, rushed to gather them in her arms and upset the pans of cream over which she had been making so much fuss.
"Immediate steps were taken to rebuild the fort, but a new location was decided upon. Erosion of the river bank was already threatening the ground close to the palisades and on several occasions the floods in the spring had crept through the pickets. So higher ground, on a rise three miles higher up the stream was selected, and here was reared one of the largest forts in the West. Four bastions guarded the sides, and the enclosure was sufficiently large to permit of a substantial fire break between the main buildings. A huge structure of squared logs was erected at the end farthest from the river, for the accomodation of the officers of the establishment, and this became known as "The Big House." ....
"On either side of the main, or river gate, within the stockade, were situated the store houses, while along the length of one was were stretched the cooperage, blacksmith shop, trading store, and several dwellings. On the other side of the square was a row of dwelling. There were fifteen buildings in the fort, all told....
"Very little iron was used in the building of Fort Langley, and in the construction of Fort Victoria three years later, none at all was used. The squared logs were mortised and fitted, and where it was necessary to fasten timbers, wooden pins were utilized.
"It was already apparent, by the time that the fort was reconstructed, that the Hudson's Bay Comapny could not make good its claim to the Oregon Territory, and sooner or later Fort Vancouver must be relinquished to the United States. this would mean that a new outlet for the trade of New Caledonia must be found, and a new depot must be established where the products of the Northern woods could be exchanged for the trade goods brought by ship from England, and the new fort was constructed to meet the requirements of such a depot....."

And that is where Alexander Caufield Anderson came into the story of Fort Langley.

From the Memoirs of James Robert Anderson, a description of Ovid Allard. James would have first seen the fort in 1851:
"Mr. James Murray Yale, the gentleman in charge, was a man of retiring disposition, but of unquestioned ability. the rest of the people employed were workmen, one of whom was named Allard, who was usually known by the name of Shortlain. This man was designated as a Post Master. Post Masters mentioned in the Hudson's Bay Company's service were not officers, but workmen, who by their superior ability were put in charge of small outposts, hence the designation of Post Master.

From: "Jason Allard, Fur-trader, Prince, and Gentleman," by B.A. McKelvie, British Columbia Historical Quarterly, vol. 9, 1945:
""There were gay times at Fort Langley, too, especially when the annual fur brigade would sweet down the river with the furs from New Caledonia," Jason recalled. "Or when the Company's ships would arrive with supplies. then there would be high celebration; bagpipes and fiddles would be brought out, and reels and square dances -- and the inevitable dram -- would be the order of the day. The voyageurs would dance and fight all night and have a mighty good time of it. At the Big House, as the officers' quarters were known, there would be feasting and merriment galore. Dangers and privations were forgotten when there was occasion for a celebration."
"He recalled many noted characters in the Hudson's Bay Service who came to Fort Langley, mentioning such individuals as Chief Factor James Douglas, Donald Manson, and A. C. Anderson, who would never stay at the Big House, but would pitch his tent outside of the fort."

I have one more piece to write about Ovid Allard, and it has taken me two hours to find it!
Here it is, in James Robert Anderson's papers:
Miscellaneous Historical Inquiries, Mss. 1912, vol. 17, file 13:
"Dear Brenda; You asked me one day to write you some of my recollections of old Fort Langley. You have read Jason Allard's account of the finding of the site and building of the Fort where his father was post master -- that is he had charge of the Indian shop, and the keys of the Fort. Many a time I have heard him calling out the time for the people to go out, and of course all strangers would hurry out. I used to visit him when he was trading with the natives for their cranberries and hazel nuts. the blacksmith's shop was a wonderful place to me. The smith made nails of different sizes and iron hoops for the kegs, barrels and vats that were being made by the Cooper with his three or four assistants, getting ready for the salmon run. Ovid Allard did all the trading with the natives for their salmon. He used to stand at the wharf with two or three trunks full of the Indians' favorite stuffs such as vermillion for the women to give themselves rosy cheeks, and tobacco for the men. Cromarty [was] at the cauldron making brine, and ever so many boys and a man or two would be running from the wharf with the salmon which they piled before the women of the fort and others who were seated in a circle in the shed where they cut the salmon. No rest for the boys -- they had to continued their running this time with the cut salmon to the .. men in the big shed where they were salting the salmon. And so they worked for the week -- early in the morning till late at night, till the salmon run was over. All that old Basil with three or four assistants used to do was to milk the cows, make the butter, and look after the herd in winter...."

You probably saw in my last post [Sunday, July 7, 2012] that a modern historian criticized Mrs. John Manson for stating that Allard "had boxes filled with things to please [the Natives], beads, vermilion and other knick-knacks."
The historian said that the Natives were shrewd bargainers and knew the value of their labour.
Now another witness is listing the same items that Mrs. Manson listed: vermillion and tobacco.
Historians: Listen to the fur trade descendents!
They were there: you were not.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ovid Allard, and Jason, his son

It's wonderful to talk to someone who is descended from one of the fur trade people I have researched (to a degree, anyway).
Frankly sometimes I sit down at this blog and say to myself: Well, what will I write today?
Knowing that there is someone out there who is descended from so-and-so always gives me something to write about.
So here you are -- whether you like it or not I am going to tell you what I know about Ovid Allard.

It's not a lot, but I have told you that I am going to make these posts shorter, haven't I?
I hope to (it doesn't always work that way, though).

So here is what Bruce McIntyre Watson, author of Lives Lived West of the Divide: A Biographical Dictionary of Fur Traders Working West of the Rockies, 1793-1858, volume 1 (of 3), has to say of Ovid Allard.

Any descendant of this man could join two Facebook pages -- that of Children of Fort Langley and Descendants of Fort Nisqually Employees.

Allard, Ovid [Ovide] (1817-1874) Canadian: French
Birth: St. Roch, Montreal, July 1817. Born to Francois Allard and Suzanne Mercier
Death: Fort Langley, B.C., August 1874
HBC Middleman, Fort Vancouver, 1834-1835; Middleman, Snake Party, 1835-1839; Assistant trader, Fort Langley, 1839-1841; Middleman, Fort Langley,1841-1842; Indian trader, Fort Langley, 1842-1843; Interpreter, Fort Langley, 1843-1846; Labourer and Carpenter, Fort Nisqually, 1846-1847; Interpreter, Fort Langley, 1847-1853; Post master, Fort Langley, 1849-1850; Interpreter, Columbia Dept., 1853-1854; Untraced vocation, Fort Langley, 1858-1859; Clerk, Fort Yale, 1859-1865; Clerk, Fort Langley, 1864-1874; and Post master, Fort Langley, 1864-1874.

According to oral tradition, a seventeen year old Ovid Allard was articling for a notarial office in Lachine when he joined the HBC from that city as a middleman in 1834. He spent his first five years at Fort Hall [Idaho] and was second in command when Fort Boise was built in 1837. In 1839 the tall competent French Canadian was assigned to Fort Langley, where he helped to build the new fort after it was burned down in 1840 by a careless Jean Baptists Brulez.

He spent much of his forty year career at Fort Langley, and when the 1846 border was drawn, he established a new Brigade route from Fort Kamloops to Fort Langley [in 1849 or later. A note here: the actual brigade trail never did go over any of the routes that Alexander Caulfield Anderson explored, but followed the route that Blackeye's son showed Henry Newsham Peers in 1848].

That same year, he along with sixteen others each laid claim to 640 acres of land around Fort Nisqually in an unsuccessful bid to secure PSAC land. In 1847 he established Fort Yale, and the following year, Fort Hope.

According to Mrs. John Manson, during the salmon run at Fort Langley, Allard did all the trading with the natives for their salmon. "He used to stand at the wharf and had boxes filled with things to please them, beads, vermilion and other knick knacks," perhaps misstating the real situation as the natives were shrewd bargainers and knew the real price of their labour.

Allard's education and competence posed a problem for an insecure James Murray Yale, who from the 1850s, tried to keep Allard subservient through apparent mean spiritedness and a short temper. In 1853, Yale became so enraged at Allard for shooting his favourite, but vicious dog, and for Allard having provided barrels to a non-Company trader, that Ovid packed his family off in a canoe and went to Fort Victoria to hand in his resignation. James Douglas convinced him otherwise and sent him to Nanaimo where he arrived on March 11, 1854, as "supervisor of outside work." Four years later, on February 4, 1858, he left Nanaimo on the steamer Otter to re-establish a defunct Fort Yale, where he stayed from May 1858 to 1864. At that point he returned to Fort Langley and remained in charge there until his death on August 2, 1874.

Ovid Allard, whose family life was very complex, had two wives and seven or eight children. In Fort Hall he married a native woman with whom he had Sennie.
According to his granddaughter, Julia Hamburger Apnaut, Sennie was given away at Fort Langley by his second wife, Justine, to a passing Scottish trader, a Mr. McKay, by a jealous wife tired of Allard's doting on the youngster.
Justine, on the other hand, claimed that the baby had fallen overboard and drowned in the river (the baby returned some years later as Marie and became the mother of Julia Hamburger Apnaut, the story of which she chronicled in Indian time.)
On February 22, 1853, Allard formalized his marriage to second wife, Justine Cowichan (c.1823-1907), the sister of a Cowichan confederacy chief T'Soshia.
Their children were: Lucie, Jason Ovide (who worked in the fur trade for many years), Mathilde, Sara, and Joseph.
While at Fort Langley, a young daughter accidentally drank poison, died, and was buried by Ovid in a coffin made from boards in the floor.

Here is a letter from Ovid Allard to James Murray Yale, written from Fort Hope, 2nd June 1850 [E/B/Al52c, BCA].
The letter may make him appear uneducated -- but he was a French Canadian who wrote English creatively:
"My dear sir; I am sending this canoe down with the furs thats here and in the same time to inquire if you think its necessary for us to go and work uppon the old road, Pahallak says there as been amaney sticks that falld in the roade in the winter of which you would likely wish it should be take off, we cannot do nothing upon the new Road yet for the snow, its trew that its not very deep and yet its likely if this Cold weather continew that it will be some time yet before its gone, it has been snowing on the mountain for three Nights now. We are Clearing ground here the timothy is all sowed, I am near out of all Articles of trade, but I don't ask for Any, the Indians [h]as little now to trade salmon the[y] only catches a few here and the[y] Seems to not have a great wish to trade them. However I have no doubt that the[y] will be glad to get us to purchase them by and by.
I would like to have a canoe here we have none belongs to the Fort the are all Scatter uppon the several Crossing place along the new road that's three in all. I always thought by a letter Mr. Peerse send me by the New Road in the spring that Mr. Manson intended to come by the New Road as he was saying that he was in hope that there was grass enough for to feed the horses here all the time that the brigade should be at Langley, and that it would be injureing the horses very much to send them back across the mountains to feed. Please to Excuse for saying so much, if you wishes me to go and work uppon the old road I am redey. I would like to go all though as far as I would meat them if you approve of it I'll take three Indians & old Pahallak with me and Mr. [George] Simpson, I think that the snow would not hinder the brigade to pass uppon the new road yet about the 20th of the month its was about the times I went with Mr. Peerse last spring on the mountain and the snow was then mid way up the trees its not so now we are able to see all the trees thats been mark along when the where working at the rod.
"Please to exuse of all Errors. Ovid Allard."

The old road he talks off was the one via Anderson River and Lake Mountain: it was never used again. In fact, when Alexander Anderson came out over the Coquihalla route, he found the snow hard enough that it easily supported the horses' weight.

The other good story I have is about Jason Ovide Allard, Ovide's son, and this is what Bruce Watson tells us about him:
Birth: Fort Langley, September 1848, mixed race
Death: New Westminster, December 1931
Untraced vocation, Western Dept., 1860-1861; Apprentice post master, Fort Yale, 1861-1865; Post master, Fort Shepherd, 1866-1869; In charge of company store at Wild Horse Creek, 1867
Born into the fur trade, Jason Allard became a later source of information about life in this period. Jason attended school in Nanaimo and at the age of twelve went to work for the HBC as an apprentice post master. As a young lad, he also occasionally interpreted for British Columbia judge Matthew Baillie Begbie. He had many small adventures throughout his short career, but one of the most unusual happened at Fort Shepherd. While he was working at that borderline fort, he ordered the regular two hundred lbs of cheese for nearby Fort Colvile; however a gremlin extra "0" slipped into the order form and was signed by Colvile's Angus McDonald as such.....

Here's the rest of the story, direct from the BCArchives:
Jason Allard's Ton of Cheese [E/D/Al5s]
A package was opened and it proved to be cheese. Then another 100-pound bale was opened. It was cheese, too. I began to get nervous. The third and the fourth and the fifth proved likewise to be cheese.
"How much cheese did you order?" demanded Angus McDonald.
"Two hundred pounds."
"Are you sure?" And away he rushed for the order book. There sure enough was the duplicate, but instead of the 200 pounds I had intended to order, an extra cipher had been added, and we had been sent 2,000 pounds of it. Macdonald became wrathy. He almost exploded, and fumed and stormed about until I reminded him that he had signed the order. "Get it out of my sight, cheese, cheese, image it, a whole ton of cheese," he shouted.
I looked about for a place to stow the offending cheese, but the warehouse was pretty well filled. At last, over in one corner I spied a number of empty rum barrels, so I had the cheese all unpacked and put into the barrels, and I covered them over with sacking.
Months went by and there was nothing said about cheese, and you can depend on it, I was not going to be the first to mention it.
Then one day, Macdonald complained that the fare was rather scanty. "Let's see," he mused, "isn't there some cheese about? Where is it, Jason?"
"You told me to put it out of your sight, and I always obey orders."
"Well, get some."
So I had a piece brought, and I can assure you that it was without doubt the best cheese that anyone ever tasted. The hot summer sun had melted and mellowed it and the flavour of the rum impregnated it. "Goodness, man! What have you been hiding this for?" shouted Macdonald in glee. After that he wanted cheese for breakfast, lunch and supper, and the odd midnight snack as well. I took the improved cheese out of storage and had it transferred to the store. The officers of the United States army barracks, who used to dine with us frequently, got a taste of it and it recommended itself so highly that soon posts 100 miles away were sending in for "Allard's Cheese." The result was that within two months it was all gone, and then Mr. Macdonald kicked again. this time because I had not saved it. But believe me, I worried more over that cheese, while it was maturing in the rum barrels, than I want to again, and the very mention of cheese for years after was enough to put me off my meals."

Well, admittedly, Angus McDonald [A.C. Anderson's clerk at Fort Colvile] was a rough character who would have frightened a young man like Jason Allard, who was probably only about twenty years old at the time.
Let's continue his biography: Allard first retired from service on March 17th, 1865 but finally left the service in 1869, angry at being upbraided for his familiarity with the young American army officers at Fort Colvile. He led a full life after retirement (chronicled in "Jason Allard, fur trader, prince and gentleman") and in his later years was still recognized by the Cowichan natives as having inherited rights within the Cowichan group. As he spoke five native dialects plus English and French, in 1871 he was hired for a CPR survey crew. To supplement his income, Allard and his family would walk across the border and pick hops, but after his wife's death, he moved into New Westminster to be closer to the courts for interpreting. Jason Allard died December 16, 1931.

So there are the stories of Ovid Allard, and his son, Jason -- at least in part.
Ovid especially played a role in the creation of the brigade trails; thus he will be a character in one of my next books.
But it will be a few years before I am able to write Jason's story, so I am recording it now, so that you too can enjoy it.