McNabs’ Saga. part III


Index ‘McNab, John, journal of’ 914: C-18 continued

[NB: for the purpose of this chronology, broken into sections and inserted by date where appropriate; the text below initially interspersed with passages [indented] from “A Journal of occurrences from my departure from Fort William from the 2nd June to the 23rd October 1817,” an overlapping subsection of the overall journal; some of the overlapping sections probably composed from memory at a later date.]

“June 2nd. This forenoon Mr. Spencer & I were sent prisoners from Fort William for Sandwich in Upper Canada, under a charge of Felony pursuant to a Warrant issued by the Magistrate in the Western district there, which included Earl Selkirk, Capts. Matthey, Dorsenna, McDonell and several others all of whom are absent,- we are guarded by a special Constable, Mr. Blondeau, a NWt. Guide, constantly armed with two Pistols in his Belt or Sash. Mr. Frazer [sic: Fraser] a NWt. proprietor also accompanies the Brigade which consists of 4 Batteaus all loaded with Furs, bound for the Sault St Mary- adverse wind deterred us several hours among the Traverse Islands- Calm towards evening and we proceeded on 16 miles- a large Canoe crossed from Pt Tonnerre (avoiding us) towards the Grand Portage which was supposed proceeding for Earl Selkirk.

[June] 3

This morning very early we passed through considerable fields of Ice formed last night decamped at the entry of Pay du Platt- here we were told at the Pic Mr. Shaw passed us for Fort William

[June] 3. Hours before sun rise this morning we proceeded and past through several fields of Ice 3/4 of an Inch in thickness formed last night at Shaquina took breakfast- Slept for the night at the entry of the Pay du Platt- the Canadians shot 2 Rabbits which they gave to their Burgeois [sic] Mr. Frazer who politely presented one of them to Mr. Spencer and myself by his servant.

[June] 4

This day we reached the further outlet of Pay du Platt.

[June] 4. In the evening reached the further end of the Pay du Platt 2 Inds. brought fish to two of the Boats, those the furthest advanced secured and kept the whole leaving no chance for their following companions they bartered with a few quarts of Indn. Corn.

[June] 5

In the eveng. put up near the Pic- Mr. Fraser reached the Pic.

[June] 5. Decamped hours before sun rise and in the evening slept for the night a few miles from the Pic, Mr. Frazer proceeded to the House.

[June] 6

Set out early Contrary winds stopt us among the Pic Islands, here 2 Inds. from Mr. McBean came told the Guide I was invited to the House and him armed to accompany me, On entering his outer apartment he came out of the inner one, expressed surprise at seeing me, Mr. Fraser present, both apologized for my having travelled through so bad road; that the Inds. had misunderstood them, they told me Mr. Shaw passed 2 days ago for Ft. William, shewed a Proclamation from the Prince Regent which I read, I was also shewn Mr. McKenzie’s Protest &c &c I then after a little refreshment took leave. Thunder and rain detained us during the night Mr McBean sent us some very fine Trout.

[June] 6. The Boats were early under way, a strong head wind prevented their passing the Pic Islands; there 2 Indians came from Mr. McBean, inviting me to the House; our guide to whom they addressed themselves joined in the request, offering his company not as a Guard, but as an introductor, I assented and he accompanied us with his insignias of office, the Pistols by his side; and thus Mr. Spencer was left unguarded- On reaching Mr. McBean’s House the Guide opened the door of his chamber and Mr. McBean came towards me, after the exchange of usual compliments on such occasions he expressed surprise at seeing me there at the same time introduced us to Mr. Frazer, when both said the Indian had misunderstood the message; which was to order the Guide to proceed with the Boats, both apologized for my having travelled through so bad a road &c &c.- Brandy & water was then brought which each partook of; they told me Mr. Shaw passed two days ago for Fort William; had brought a Proclamation from the Prince Regent, which I read, Mr. McBean also handed me Mr. Danl. McKenzie’s Protest, and his printed Letter to Mercator, with some Newspapers, as if selected as favorable to their cause, and desirous of their being exhibited on such occasion; there a few hours were spent till the boats came, when the tent was pitched and I bid them adieu. thunder & heavy rain in the eveng. Mr. McBean sent us some fine Trout Mr. Spencer walked to the Bank edge, the Guide thinking he staid too long, girt on his Pistols & went in search Mr. Spencer expressing surprise, the Guide apologized, saying he was obeying his orders

June 7

Set out early- a fine breeze drove us 15 Leagues this day.

[June] 7. Departed early- hard frost- a fine breeze drove us 18 Leagues.

[June] 8

At daybreak decamped- soon after Mr. Frazer pushed on for Michipicoton- in the afternoon overtook him, and in the eveng. the Honble Mr. Coltman and Henry McKenzie met us- all went on shore and stopt for the night- Mr. Coltman entered our Tent said he wished to know if we had any of the Papers relative to the restitution of property at Fort William.- If we had any sentiments to utter on the further elucidation of [business?] on his Lordship’s proceedings; adding the N.W. Gents. had more opportunities of stating their transactions than his Lordship had, and that the Sheriff’s Warrant having been issued previous to his appointment did not come under his control and must be obeyed, that in cases of felony the Chief Justice alone could grant bail but that he would write to him which he did- I mentioned that all the Papers in my poassession alluded to were enclosed in a Packet given to Mr. Kennedy That in the same Packet was the daily remarks I made at Fort Willm. during the time I was in charge which contained all the remarks I had to make; and that having a Letter from Earl Selkirk to Mr. Woods Sandwich. Unfortunately I sent the Warrants I acted under, to Point Meuron, and Mr. McGillivray denying leave to get them down they are left behind. I wrote Mr. Bourke to deliver them to Mr. Coltman who had the goodness to say he would take care they should be sent to the Chief Justice- He then asked if I knew if Earl Selkirk intended proceeding to Red River as fast as possible- his reasons for going so early, and if he had appointed any place for conciliatory measures. I said I understood his Lordship meant to proceed expeditiously, his reasons for doing so I thought proceeded from certain Letters from the interior, that I never heard of any intended place for general meeting.- I then requested to know if we could proceed to York instead of Sandwich, he said he could not intercede but that I might speak to Mr. H. McKenzie who he described as one of the most lenient among them, I did so at first he said we might; but after remarking that the affidavit on which the Warrant is founded is at Sandwich: said we had better go there at once. Mr Coltman delivered a Letter to the Chief Justice at York and departed at a late hour.

[June] 8. At break of day decamped soon after Mr. Fraser, whose Boat was loaded and Crew more numerous than the others in company left us and hastened for Michipicoton, we overtook him in the afternoon, and in the evening, the Honble Mr. Coltman and Mr. Henry McKenzie met us. they turned back a short way, a convenient landing place- being selected all went on shore for the night. Mr. Coltman some time after, entered out tent, said he wished to know if we had any papers relative to the restitution of property at Fort William, or if Mr. Spencer or myself had any information to give tending to the further elucidation of his Lordship’s proceedings, adding the NW Gentlemen had more opportunities of stating their transactions than his Lordship had in manifesting his; that the Warrant for our arrest having been issued previous to his commission did not come under his control and must be obeyed: and that in cases of Felony the Chief Justice only could grant bail, but that he would do everything in his power for us by writing to him, which he immediately did. I told him that all the papers particularizing the occurrences at Fort William were enclosed in a Packet, and given in charge of Mr. Kennedy, who promised to take every care of and deliver them safe; That in the same Packet was the daily remarks I made at Fort William during the time I was in charge after being left by his Lordship which contained all the relations I could give: that having a letter from Earl Selkirk to Mr. Woods in Sandwich I was in hopes of its influence in obtaining bail, That unfortunately I sent the Warrants I acted under to Point Meuron, and Mr. McGillivray denying intercourse there they are left behind. He kindly offerred [sic] his endeavours to obtain them there and transmit them to the Chief Justice at York; I then wrote to Mr. Bourke in charge of Point Meuron to search for and deliver them to the Commissioners.- He then asked if Earl Selkirk intended proceeding to Red River as fast as possible, his reasons for going so early, and if I knew if his Lordship had appointed any place for a General rendezvous to confer on conciliatory measures, I replied that as far as I understood his Lordship’s desire was to proceed speedily, that his reasons for departing so early were in consequence of Letters received from the interior; and that I never heard of any intended place for a general conference. After some general remarks he departed at a late hour, previous thereto, I requested to know if we would go to York instead of Sandwich, he said he could not ascertain us, but that I might apply to Mr. Henry McKenzie, (who, he added, was one of the mildest of the company), I did so, he said we might, but on remarking that the affidavits on which the Warrant is founded was given in at Sandwich, said we should go there, the object in going to York was to have known the immediate effect of the Commissioner’s Letter which would not have been known at Sandwich for weeks after our arrival there.

[June] 9

Before 4 am set out at noon rain detained us 6 Leagues from Michipicoton Mr. Fraser went on.

[June] 9. Decamped at 5 a.m.; at noon rain detained us 6 Leagues from Michipicoton

[June] 10

Set out at 7 this morning- at 4 pm a light Canoe: 7 Iroquois & 2 N.W. Gentlemen overtook us from Fort William, they conversed some time with our Guide, he told us they were for Montreal, said Messrs Shaw, I. McDonald, Dease, & Smith set out for the interior from Fort William in 2 Canoes in such haste that Mr. Shaw did not sleep in the Fort, report is they are to proceed expeditiously, here we slept for the night.

[June] 10. Waited till 7 this morning for one of the Boats whose crew were unable & unwilling to keep company with us yesterday. At noon contrary wind and signs of bad weather stopt our procedure, and drove us back several miles to a place of safety. at 4 p.m. a light canoe manned with 4 Iroquois passed from Fort William, 3 Gentlemen passengers, they joined in conversation with our guide about an hour and then set out. We learn from Blondeau the Gents are a Mr. Robertson, & McGillivray, they are going express to Montreal, said Messrs Shaw, I. McDonald, Dease, & Smith the Depy. Sheriff left Fort William for the interior in 2 Canoes in such haste that Mr. Shaw did not sleep in the Fort, report is that they are going to serve Earl Selkirk and the others named in the Warrant- here we passed the night.

[June] 11

Set out at Sun rise and stopt for the night within 2 leagues of Montreal Island

[June] 11. Set out at Sun rise, two hours after, we were compelled to run the Boats into a small recess, little shelter, the wind abating we reached within two Leagues of Montreal Island.”


Index ‘McNab, John, and Selkirk’, ‘taken prisoner’, ‘papers from packet left by’ 297: reel C-4, p. 3557, image 411

i.e. letter, from Michel [Michael?] McDonell to ‘enquire of Antoine, Freeman’s House, Lac La Pluie’ (11 June 1817 Fort William)

McNab and John Spencer have been sent by NWC as prisoners to Sandwich [Windsor ON].


Index ‘McNab, John, journal of’ 914: C-18 continued

“[June] 12

As usual started early at 4 P.M. Messrs Simon McGillivray and McLoughlin met us in a light Canoe well manned, after a short conversation with the Guide, they set out in all speed and we encamped at the [Mama?]

[June] 12. Proceeded before sun rise, adverse wind made us trace every Bay at 4 pm Messrs Simon McGillivray and McLoughlin met us, After a short conversation with our Guide they set out in all speed for Fort William- at the Mama we encamped.

June 13

Decamped at an early hour and after sun set arrived at the S St Mary, found Commissioner Fletcher, and Lieut. Myers, after a short conversation with the latter; he was so good as mention to the major that Mr. Spencer & I were waiting at his Tent we were called in, our Guide [sic: Guard] was desired to enter, his Warrant, or order relating to us having been previously delivered to the Major, was read by him, in French to the Guide, little said to us, but that he had a mass of papers to examine and that he would call on us to come before him at 9 to morrow morng. we then retired- I sent to Mr. Gale two Letters I had to him from Earl Selkirk- in an hour after he and Mr Archd. McDonald came, several originl. Letters from Messrs McGillivray, Smith & Campbell, I put into his hands, and some time after he departed saying he would call again tomorrow mornig

[June] 13. Advanced at an early hour, and after sun set arrived at Sault St Mary, found Commissioner Fletcher & Lieut. Moir’s Tents pitched near the landing place. After a short conversation with the Lieut he was so good as mention to Major Fletcher that Mr. Spencer and I had arrived- We were called into his Tent. After Introduction our Guard (Blondeau) was called, his order relating to us having previously been delivered was now read to him in French. little said to us, but that he has a Mass of papers to examine, and that he would call on us to come before him at 9 to morrow morning, we retired- I sent 3 Letters I had in charge from Earl Selkirk to Mr. Gale, in an hour after he and Mr. Archibald McDonald came, after a short conversation, I put into Mr. Gales hands several original Letters from Messrs Smith, McGillivray, and Campbell, sometime after he and Mr. McDonald departed promising to call to morrow.

[June] 14

From general remarks I understand Major Fletcher is considered as a decided partizan of the N.W.Co. rumour runs that the military party are furnished with rations, Canoes &c by the NWCo and have 9 Gallon Keg of Spirits for recourse to- this evening Lieut. Myers came into my Tent full of consolation, saying his friend Capn. Askin might be of use to Mr. Spencer and myself at Sandwich, that he had no doubt of his endeavouring to find bail for both, and that he would write him to that purpose and favour me with a Letter to him accordingly.- In a perfect stranger to find such sympathy and attention I felt singular satisfaction.

[June] 14. From general remarks and observations I understand Major Fletcher is considered as a decided partisan of the N.W. Company, reports say that the military party received rations from them & have a 9 Ga. Keg of Spirits at command- At the appointed hour of 9 am Guard came from the Major, saying he would defer calling us several hours longer, after amusing himself in patroling [sic] a small military party, during which, men and Officers ridiculed the transaction, in the forenoon a Government Vessel ( the Surprise) arrived from Drummond’s Island with 40 Soldiers of the 70th Regt. Capn. Bruce and Lieut. Garson came on shore, the Major forgetting his second appointment, in the eving. when walking across the Portage I accosted him, mentioned Mr. Spence and myself were disappointed in not being called before him according to his own desire, he exclaimed your name is McNab, I accorded, he replied, I know neither of you (Mr. Spencer being present) and have nothing to say, scarcely daring a look at either went hastily away- I mentioned to Mr. Gale our anxiety for proceeding to the seat of civil power, he represented it to the Major and to the N.W. Gentlemen, neither shew a tendency to the consideration of our case, in the evening Lieut. Moir entered out Tent full of consolation, saying his friend Capn. Askin would be our friend at Sandwich, that he would readily become bail for both, and that he would write him which he did, and delivered to me the Letter, in a perfect stranger to find such sympathy and attention was peculiarly satisfactory.

Mr. Pritchard now departing I have the Honor to be,

Madam

Your most obedient

and humble Servant

John McNab.

S St Mary

14 June 1817”


Index ‘McNab, John, journal of’ 914: C-18 continued: “A Journal of occurrences from my departure from Fort William from the 2nd June to the 23rd October 1817”

“[June] 15

This morning preparing to Breakfast with Messrs Gale and Gentlemen at his encampment, we spoke to our Guard or Constable requesting him to accompany us (being distracted by the Commissioner did not ask his leave) the constable afraid of his own responsibility, requested to have his master’s liberty Viz. Messrs. MacGillies & Fraser’s, and to them he accordingly applied, the answer was, that in such case we must have two of the Military along with us this we declined, and deprive ourselves of this pleasure on terms so rigorous, Mr. Moir furnished us with information which caused the following note

‘Sir,

I have received private intimation that it is supposed Mr. Spencer & myself will be sent on board the Vessel today under the charge of Marines & shall be glad to see you as soon as convenient.

I am &c

Samuel Gale Esqre.’

 Very soon after writing the above note the report was contradicted. Mr. Gale soon came, he could not obtain leave for our wished for visit on other conditions than already mentioned and we declined it- A canoe arrived from Fort William with empty Kegs, among which Lieut. Moir, Garson, Mr. Spencer, and myself saw one of 9 or more Gallons marked H.B.Co. laying among a number more bearing the N.W. Company t marks- In the evening Mr. Lemoin & Coll. Dixon arrived from Drummond’s Island.- Messrs Lemoine & McDonald paid us a visit. We were formally desired by a Mr. Dease to have our Tent removed to the spot in view from the Chamber windows of the N.W. Gentlemen’s Mess Room.

[June] 16

I applied to Messrs MacGillies and Frazer to be sent to Sandwich as soon as possible, offered to go in a Canoe with a few men rather than be exposed to the ridicule of Canadians & Indians by being removed from place to place as caprices directed; they said Earl Selkirk did not send them last year in one of his Canoes- I replied the reason was that had none he judged good enough for such purposes; this they admitted, and that Mr. Smith had recommended that we should be sent in one of his Majesty’s Vessels, but they thought this mode of navigation a would be circuitous & slow, expressing a doubt of our being taken on board, but that we might make an application to the Commander of his Majesty’s Vessel now here, I replied that was their business, they then recommended us to go in a Vessel expected up daily, Major Fletcher joined us, I expressed to him the tenor of our conversation, he again in a consequential and distant manner, exclaimed, your name is McNab I believe, I assented, he then defined his office at Quebec, that there he had a colleague; how each acted on the presentation of Warrants, adding he did not know the nature of mine or that on which I was arrested, that it might be founded on a rape, murder, larceny &c &c for what he knew &c &c further that he also was a Magistrate in Upper Canada, this I granted, saying that as such I requested that Mr. Spencer & myself should be forwarded to the seat of Justice as soon as possible, he wheeled about saying he had nothing to do with us and went away. Mr. MacGillies followed and they walked a considerable time in conversation, one of the Soldiers informed me the sentry heard the Major say to Mr. MacGillies yesterday, that as Earl of Selkirk had a Lawyer here, they, the N.W. Company ought to have one also; as they had not, he would do all in his power for them.”


 

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