McNabs’ Saga. part IV


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”

[NB: for the purpose of this chronology, broken into sections and inserted by date where appropriate]

“[June] 17

This morning I desired the Constable or Guard, to present my compliments to Mr. MacGillies, that as a favour I requested permission to go to where the Medicine Box [of] Mr Lamoin’s Brigade was for Meds for Mr. Spencer and myself, the answer was, that I should send a request in writing to the Gentlemen who had the Meds in charge, and in that manner, we could have them, I desired the messenger to return and say that it was necessary I should go and compose the Medicines myself he soon came back saying Mr. MacGillies permitted my going with 2 men (not Military) and the Constable as a Guard, allowing Mr. Spencer to accompany us

[June] 18

We were informed that when the Vessel arrived which was intended for our conveyance, she would be unloaded in one day and the day after would sail from Sault St Mary, this is her second day here, and her cargo is not yet landed. She is a very fine Brig named Wellington, quite new, upwards of 100 Tons, the property of the N.W.Co. and Mr. McIntosh, their Agent in Upper Canada and commanded by his son.

[June] 19.

This morning the Commissioner seemed much engaged in Mr. MacGillies residence (the Genl. Mess House) and at times in conversation together on the landing place, his countenance to their proceedings is publickly [sic] partial, to Mr. Spencer nor myself has he deigned to speak, till sollicited [sic] by us after twice disclaiming his intention of calling us before him, has hitherto declined- After unloading the Wellington her crew assisted the N.W. Company’s Servants (200 less or more in number) in taking a Schooner of about 30 Tons across the Portage & launched her in Lake Superior, she was built at Detroit last spring. I shewed to Mr. Gale a Letter I wrote to the Commissioner, he hinted the propriety of making an affidavit, and drew out a form and another for Mr. Spencer, he then intimated our intention to the Major, who said he would attend to them – I sent the servant to know when he would be ready, the answer was he would send for us in the evening- no invitation coming, I sent the Letter. he read it, and told the bearer he would call on us to-morrow morning.

[June] 20

This morning Major Fletcher made his appearance, but instead of honoring us with his presence as announced last night, he introduced himself among the female residentors [sic] here, and if it may be judged from his former attention to the Ladies at Sault St Mary the purpose of his visit was to inform them that a Military parade was to be exhibited, this was the case, the major at their head, Lieut. Austin looking on, the Ladies turned out and amused themselves in looking on. The Military Gentlemen are disaffected at his ridiculous proceedings, changes have occurred in consequence- Noon- I am called for by the Major- On entering his Tent, with much politeness he desired me to sit down, asked if Mr. Smith had gone after Earl Selkirk. I said I had heard that was the case, he replied, now I remember you told me so before, I might have answered, I never spoke to him- nor he to me on the subject, but I remained silent; I delivered the affidavit, he read it aloud; asked my last residence, I informed him, he made a long dissertation on the seignory of Vaudriel, that it was the boundary of Lower Canada &c, &c. the usual ceremony was then concluded with the affidavit, which he remarked would be one of 20 or more numbers he meant to send to the Governor at Quebec; that already 70 members had gone down &c &c- I touched the old subject of our being forwarded to Sandwich; he exclaimed as before, and again described his Majestratical actions at Quebec &c &c I retired saying I would send Mr. Spencer (who also had his affidavit ready) he replied, by all means, and desired my guard the Special Bailiff to bring Mr. Spencer with him; they accordingly went together; they met the Major on the way, he desired Mr. Spencer to call soon, he did so, was told to make out a duplicate, this he did and returned therewith, was now told he could not be admitted. He now with Mr. MacGillies’ permission (attended by a Guard of 3 men) went to Mr. Gales encampment and acquainted him of the proceedings he advised him to persist in his applications, and this has had the desired effect- the men are now carrying the Goods and Canoes over the Portage, ready for setting out when leave is granted by the Commissioners.”


Index ‘McNab, John, and Selkirk’ 298: C-4, p. 3576, image 430

i.e. letter, from McNab to Selkirk (20 June 1817, Sault Ste Marie); arrived Sault Ste Marie 16 June 1817; goings-on at the Sault from 18–20 June 1817.

“My Lord

Though of little import I go on with daily occurrences since the remarks in my last we were told by Mr. McGillies, that when a vessel they hourly expected for our conveyance did arrive, she would be unloaded in one day, and the day after would sail from S St Mary- this is her 2d day here (18th June) and her cargo is not yet landed- 19th This morning the Commissr. seem much engaged in Mr. McGillies room (the Genl. Mess House) and walking together, to, and on the landing places; his countenance to N.W.Co. proceedings is publicly partial- to Mr. Spencer nor myself he has not deigned to speak; till accosted by us, and after twice declaring his intention of calling us before him has hitherto declined; this day the vessel for our conveyance was unloaded- her crew soon after assisted the N.W.Co. men in taking a small schooner over the Portage for Navigating L. Superior- I drew out the form of a Letter to Major [John] Fletcher on showing it to Mr.[Samuel] Gale he hinted the propriety of making affidavits before him drew out the form, and intimated to the Commissr. Mr Spencers intention and mine, his answer was that he would attend thereto- I sent a servant to know when he would be ready for receiving us, he replied he would admit us soon- In the evening no Invitation coming I sent the follg. Letter alluded to above

‘Sir

When left by Earl Selkirk in charge of Fort William, I was desired to retain possession till the arrival of the Special Commissioners appointed by the Supreme Govt. of Canada, then to be regulated by their directions, this was prevented by the previous arrival of Wm. McGillivray Esg. And others of the N.W.Co. who demanded the Keys, and took immediate possession confined myself and Mr. Spencer under a charge of Felony, and when they found it convenient sent us to receive retribution- on our way having met your Colleague in Office, he enquired into the nature of our case, stated it in a Letter to the Chief Justice at York, after I had perused it, he sealed, and delivered it to me- said we should be forwarded, and that this would be assisted by you- the day after our arrival here vizt.: the 11th Inst. At 9. a.m. Mr. Spencer and myself were ready for appearing before you, as you had directed us to do the evening before- No order came- I mentioned to our Constable the disappointment, he intimated it to you, and was desired to tell us that at half an hour past one p.m. you would desire our appearance, that hour and every one since have passed away and to this moment we have not been enquired after; and there seems now as little preparation for our conveyance home as at the moment we arrived.

I trust you will consider our case, and order our immediate departure to the place where the warrant requires

I am &c &c

John McNab

John Fletcher Esq.

Special Commissioner &c &c’

The Commissioner read the above in presence of the bearer, and ordered him to tell us he would call on us at our tent tomorrow morning.

June 20th This morning the Commissioner made his appearance but instead of honoring us with his presence as announced last night he went to the residence of the females (connexions of the Canadian Gentm) here; and if it may be judged from the former attention to the Ladies at S St. Mary the purport of the visit was to inform them that a parade of the military was immediately to be exhibited; this took place the Commissioner at their head Lieut. Austin (their Officer) looking on; the Ladies turned out and amused themselves at the novel sight- The military Gentlemen are disaffected with his conduct, changes in command have already occurred in consequence, I am now called for by the Major- On entering his Tent with much politeness he desired me to sit down; asked if Mr Smith had gone after Selkirk- I said I had heard so, he replied, now I remember you told me so before- I might have answered I never spoke to him nor he to me on the subject but I remained silent- he then read aloud the affidavit; asked my last place of residence; made a long dissertation of the seigniory of Vendriel (Loboniers) that it was the boundary of lower with upper Canada &c, &c, the usual ceremony was then concluded with the affidavit, when he remarked it would be one of 20 more numbers he meant to send down to the Govr of Quebec that already he had sent down 70, adding he had not been idle &c, &c,- I touched the old subject of being sent down- he exclaimed as before, he had nothing to do with us; Here himself and former colleagues in Quebec acted &c, &c- I then retired saying I would send Mr. Spencer immediately (who also had his affidavit ready) he said by all means, and desired my attendant the special Bailiff to bring Mr. Spencer with him; he accordingly went- meeting the Major on the way he was desired to call soon this he did, and was told he must have duplicate &c This now made out, on returning therewith was told he could not see him, of course he returned, and with permission, and 3 attendants went to solicit Mr. Gales advice who told him to persist in his applications, and this has had the desired effect- the men are now carrying the Goods and canoes over the Portage ready for setting out early tomorrow morning.-”


Index ‘McNab, John, protest of’ 291: reel C-4, p. 3438, image 289.

i.e. John McNab’s affidavit submitted to Fletcher; deposition in response to actions of William McGillivray, Pierre Rocheblave, John McDonald, Allan McDonald, Simon Fraser and others taken against John McNab for his role in the seizure of Fort William (20 May [sic: June*] 1817 Sault Ste Marie).[Copied in triplicate.]

*McNab, presumably, was at Fort William on 20 May 1817 and had not yet been arrested and taken to Sault Ste Marie; in addition the letter refers to events of 30 May ‘last past’.

“S St. Mary 20th May [sic: June] 1817

That on the 1st day of May last past the Earl of Selkirk quitted Fort William leaving the said Fort in the charge of this deponent who had with him about 6 or 7 men. That the orders and directions which this deponent received from the said Earl of Selkirk were, that he the said deponent should not deliver the said Fort or the property it contained, into the hand, possession or custody of any persons except only of the Commissioners appointed by Govt. or of persons authorized by them. That the reasons or causes assigned by the said Earl of Selkirk for the orders and directions aforesaid were the follg.: … [because a den of murderous thieves] … That the whole of the property of Fort William at the time his Lordship left the same was also given into the charge of the said deponent, the keys thereof being put into his possession, and the said Earl having declared that the said property was his for the execution of certain agreements, concerning an arbitration relating to pecuniary claims between him and the N.W.Co. or words of similar import an meaning— That this deponent in consequence had determined as he conceived his duty required not to deliver the said Fort and property into the possession of any persons other than the said Commissioners or such as should be appointed by them- That about the 30th day of May last past, and before the arrival of the Commisrs. Appointed by Govnt., Wm. McGillivray Esq., Pierre Rocheblave, John McDonald, Allan McDonald, Simon Fraser and many other persons arrived at Fort William and took possession of the said Fort and compelled this deponent to deliver up the keys and also took possession of the said property whereto this deponent hath understood the said Earl to have been entitled for the execution of the Agreements before mentioned- That this deponent therefore had it not in his power to deliver up the said property to the said Commissioners as he intended to have done in conformity to the directions which he received when the same were given into his charge.”


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] 21

Coll. Dixon and Mr. Gale breakfasted with us this morng. while their Canoes and Cargoes were carried over the Portage, in the evening Messrs. McDonald and Lemoine passed with additional packages of provisions to where the Brigade are waiting the Commissioners leave for a final departure Mr. MacGillies came to our Tent and requested to know whether Earl Selkirk or the N.W. Company was to pay our passage to Sandwich, I replied the N.W. Company brought us so far and surely they would convey us to where the Warrant pointed out- he told us we were to go on board this evening, that he would regulate with the Captain, and return and bid us adieu; the latter he did not- We were conducted by a number of Iroquois in a Boat gave our tent to Mr. McDonald and left the cane &c to Mr. MacGillies care.

[June] 22

Capn. McIntosh going on shore he offered his services to deliver the following note,

‘Sir,

I shall be obliged by tour sending a statement of the articles Mr. Spencer and myself have received from you during our stay at Sault St. Mary

I hope you will have the goodness to submit into your store a cane and other Articles till Ermatinger receives them for the Earl of Selkirk; there is some Butter and Meat left which you will receive

I am &c

Hugh McGillies Esqr

John McNab.’

The Major and Military department under Lieut. Austin of the 70th Regt. and many N.Wt. Canoes went away yesterday. Capn. McIntosh returned on board with the following.

‘S. St. Mary 33nd June 1817

Sir,

Whatever you have left, at the Sault St. Marie in my charge will be delivered to the Earl of Selkirk according to your request on his making application for them- you will be pleased to acknowledge the receipt of sundry provisions &c delivered you here and return it, I have enclosed you a copy.

I am Sir &c.

Hugh MacGillies’

The Vessel got immediately under way, and in the evening came to an anchor in sight of the Island St Joseph, took Ballast on board.

[June] 23

Got under way at 9 am in the afternoon anchored, at Drummond’s Island, the Capn. went on shore and cleared his Vessel in the Eving. got under way with a fine breeze

[June] 24

Adverse winds tossed us about near Shaquina Bay L’ Huron

[June] 25

Dallying winds this morng. a Vessel seen to the Sward, in the forenoon another appeared

[June] 26

Little progress till afternoon when a fine breeze wafted us into the River Sinclair near its lower end came to anchor at 10 p.m.

[June] 27

Contrary wind detained us at the Bar in Lake Sinclair

[June] 28

In the Afternoon came to Mr. McIntoshes Wharff at Moy- this Gentleman has a fine House &c here is Agent for the N.W.Co. and seems much interested in their cause, he avoided conversation with us though he and his brother came on board- He is a Justice of the Peace, told our Special Bailiff (a Mr. Dease) to deliver us into the hands of the Sheriff (Mr. Hands) the Warrant directed that he should commit us to Mr. Baby- On entering the Sheriff’s Office, the Warrant was delivered to him, after reading it he told us us [sic] we had travelled a mile or two in vain, that we ought to have gone to Mr. Baby, I then delivered him a letter from Coll. Dixon, he expressed sorrow at the situation we appeared in, advised us to proceed to Mr. Baby’s with a few lines he addressed to him- He received us with much attention, and said he had no objection to our going to Mr. Forsyth’s Tavern till our case was examined, which he said should be as soon as possible, we set out, called at the Sheriff’s on our way, who received us with [sincere?] seeming attention, and proposed going with us to Mr. Woods- We met that Gentleman from the Sheriff;s House to which we returned, and were there joined by Mr. Baby, after a general conversation Monday was appointed for our examination and Mr. Woods accompanied us to the Inn and introduced us to Mr. Forsyth.

[June] 29

Sunday, Mr. Woods visited us shewed a copy of Messrs Vandersluyes & McTavishes Affidavit and made many impertinent inquiries respecting the business at Fort William, &c Mr. Askin and Lieut. Moir came also and gave us hopes of immediate Bail

[June] 30

The hour appointed came and we made our appearance. I have a duplicate of our examination- which I intend to send to the Earl of Selkirk, the Magistrates seem astonished at the absurdity of the cause of Warrant which caused our commitment here- I agreed with the master of a Vessel here for a passage to Drummond’s Island”


Index ‘McNab, John, Examination of’ 301: C-4, p. 3625, image 479

i.e. examination of and charges against John McNab (30 June 1817) [John Spencer’s examination follows in the Selkirk Papers]

“Western District Sandwich viz: ‘The examination of John McNab late of Fort William in the said Wtern district∼ Gentlemen, who appeared before us Francois Baby, Jean Bt Baby, George Jacobs, John Askin, Robert Innes, and William Duff Esquires, Justices of the Peace in and for the Western District; Taken the 30th day of June 1817, being charged on the oath of Jasper Vandersluys and James Chisholm McTavish Gentlemen, with having forcibly, violently, and by means of arms, entered a place called Fort William in the Western District of Upper Canada, and being the principal Post of a Company of Merchants, under the firm of the NWt. Company, with the felonies taking stealing and carrying away 83 Fusils of the value of Two-hundred and fifty pounds Sterling money of Great Britain, on the 14th August 1817 of the Goods and Chattle of the Honble William McGillivray, Simon McGillivray, Archibald McLeod and others being the Partners composing the firm of the said N.Wt. Company.

The said John McNab on his examination now sayeth: That on or about the 14th Augt. Last; The Earl of Selkirk asking as a Magistrate for the Wtn District issued a Warrant addressed to him, and others, whereby he and others were commanded to enter Fort William, and search for quantities of arms, said to be secreted in some part of the said Fort; that a quantity of arms were found in a Hay loft in said Fort; to the number of forty odd three of which he examined were loaded, and he had reason to believe the others were also loaded; the loose guns were removed from the Hay loft to another apartment, and left there in the charge of Capt Matthey to prevent any improper use being made of them.-

That the Earl of Selkirk had been informed the night before, that the Guns in question, had been loaded, and secreted, for the purpose of being used against his Lordship and his people, that the said Guns were included in the inventory of the property at Fort William aforesaid; and were left there, to be delivered to the Commissioners appointed to investigate, the business, between the Hudsons Bay Company, and the N West Company, and were taken possession of the 29th or 30th of May last by the Honble William McGillivray and others, when he took possession of the Fort, and all other property therein; That some of the said Guns might have been used or disposed of after the purchase made by his Lordship, from Mr McKenzie of all the property belonging to the NWt Company in said Fort William; That his papers were left at Point Meuron about 9 miles from Fort William, among which papers were the warrant in question, and that the said Honble Willm McGillivray, would not permit him to send for his papers, when sent from Fort William, that Point Meuron is an establishment of the Earl of Selkirk, and that he acted as Peace Officer, under the Earl of Selkirk.

Taken before us at Sandwich the 30th June 1817

Signed John McNab

Signed Robert Innes

John Askin J.P.

Fr Baby J.P.W.D.

George Jacob J.P.W.D.

Wm. Duff J.P.W.D.

Bt Baby J.P.W.D.

A true copy

Signed by James Allan O.P.W.D.”


Index ‘McNab, John, Issue of a warrant’ 549: C-11, p. 12,193 image 1084

i.e. examination of and charges against John McNab (30 June 1817) [near, but not exact, duplicate of 30 June 1817 above]

“Western District Sandwich vizt: ‘The Examination of John McNab late of Fort William in the said Western district, Gentlemen, who appeared before us Francois Baby, Jean Bt Baby, George Jacobs, John Askin, Robert Innes, and William Duff Esquires, Justices of the Peace in and for the Western District; Taken this 30th day of June 1817, being charged on the oath of Jasper Vandersluyes and James Chisholme McTavish Gentlemen, with having forcibly, violently, and by means of arms, entered a place called Fort William in the Western District of Upper Canada, and being the principal Post of a Company of Merchants, under the firm of the North West Company, with the felonious taking stealing and carrying away 83 fusils of the value of Two-hundred and fifty pounds sterling money of Great Britain, on the 14th August 1817 of the goods and chattle of the Honble. William McGillivray, Simon McGillivray, Archibald McLeod and others being the Partners composing the firm of the said North West Company.

The said John McNab on his examination now sayeth. That on or about the 14th Augt. Last. The Earl of Selkirk acting as a Magistrate for the Western District issued a Warrant addressed to him, and others, whereby he and others were commanded to enter Fort William and search for a quantities of arms, said to be secreted in some part of the said Fort and that a quantity of arms were found in a Hay loft in said Fort, to the number of 40 odd, three of which he examined were loaded, and he had reason to believe the others were also loaded, the loose Guns were removed from the Hay loft to another apartment, and left there in the charge of Captain Matthey to prevent any improper use being made of them.-

That the Earl of Selkirk had been informed the night before, that the Guns in question, had been loaded, and secreted, for the purpose of being used against his Lordship and his people, that the said Guns were included in the Inventory of the Property at Fort William aforesaid, and were left there, to be delivered, to the Commissioners appointed to investigate the business between the Hudson’s Bay Company, and the North West Company and were taken possession of the 29th or 30th of May last by the Honorable William McGillivray and others, when he took possession of the Fort, and all other property therein. That some of the said Guns might have been used or disposed of after the purchase made by his Lordship, from Mr. Daniel McKenzie of all the property belonging to the North West Company in said Fort William. That his papers were left at Point Meuron about 9 Miles from Fort William among which Papers were the Warrant in question, and that the said Honorable William McGillivray would not permit him to send for his papers when sent from Fort William: That Point Meuron is an establishment of the Earl of Selkirk’s, and that he acted as Peace Officer, under the Earl of Selkirk.

Taken before us at Sandwich the 30th June 1817

(signed) John McNab

(signed) Robert Innes

John Askin J.P.

Fr Baby J.P.W.D.

George Jacob J.P.W.D.

Wm. Duff J.P.W.D.

B. Baby J.P.W.D.

A true copy

(signed) James Allan C.P.W.D.”


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”

“[July] 1

Mr. Spencer has obtained a conveyance to Fort Erie.”


Index ‘McNab, John, bail given’ 302; C-4, p. 3644, image 498  

i.e. letter, from James Wood to Selkirk (1 July 1817, Sandwich [Windsor ON]) bail letter of 30 April received by Wood 28 June.

“My Lord,

I have had the honor to receive your Lordships respected Letter of 30th April, which was delivered to me on the 28th ulto., and I have the pleasure to inform your Lordship that the Magistrates at this place, among whom was Mr. Fs. Baby, who issued the infamous Warrant against your Lordship & the Gentlemen therein named, did not hesitate long in admitting Mssrs McNab & Spencer to bail. … Your Lordship will observe that this [forwarded] Information was apparently sworn to in the first instance before Mr. Chief Justice Powell at York on the 8th October [1816], & a copy taken & resworn to before J. Baby on the 21st October 1816, at this place- The reason or motive for this mode of proceeding I am ignorant of.- This information, however, was of the greatest importance to me on the application to have Mssrs McNabb & Spencer bailed.- No sooner had I pointed out to the Magistrates the inconsistency of the two informations than they became indignant, and I believe some of them were astonished how they could have suffered themselves to have been so grossly imposed upon by Messrs VanderSluys & McTavish & the others concerned in this infamous proceeding. … Mr. McNabb has expressed a wish that I should give your Lordship my opinion on the subject of the Warrant against you Lordship on the Charge of Felony.”


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