McNabs’ Saga. part VI


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]

“[August] 3

Sunday Early in the mornig. set out for Sault St. Mary; took 2 men with me whose servitudes are as represented by Willin of no utility here. I will leave them with Mr. Ermatinger for the first conveyance to Montreal At the Traverse Islands two Canoes of Indians joined us while detained by adverse wind- they had some fine Birch rhind [sic], which they said they would carry to Willin – in the Evening a Thunder storm drove us into a Bay beyond Point Tonnerre- After sun set a large N.W. Canoe came near our encampment Messrs Shaw, Allan McDonald & Gentn. from the Columbia passengers Mr Burke [Bourke?] (a [prisoner?] for Pt Meuron) accompanies them, he supped with me and joined his companions according to promise.

[August] 4

Blows a Gale the N W Canoe went away at sunrise, we ventured soon after and kept along shore till obliged to stop in a Bay till 3 p.m.- when we continued our journey, here Indians gave me 2 Otter skins several promised to visit Point Meuron after sunset we encamped near the 2 mountains.

[August] 5

At daybreak began our labours, and before sunset passed nearly through the Bay du Platt-

[August] 6

Got under way at daylight- twice stopt by head winds and a little after noon were drove backwards into a Bay 9 or 10 leagues from last night’s lodging

[August] 7

Blew a Gale all last night, at sun rise it moderated and we soon after advanced close along shore till 10 a.m. when we were compelled to put on shore.- Set out again in the afternoon and stopt for the night at the Traverse to the Pic.

[August] 8

Set out before day- met 4 Batteaus headed for Fort William and a light Canoe with dispatches for Earl Selkirk- in the afternoon we passed a Boat (which got in head of us the 4th Inst.) bound for Michipicoton- at the Otter Head we put up for the night.

[August] 9

We were early on our Journey and proceeded with the sail at times with great progress till stopt by a sudden gust of head wind 4 leagues from Michipictoton

[August] 10

Reached Michipicoton at 9 this mornig. Govr. Vincent and several of his Officers preparing for their departures for the interior.

[August] 11

After breakfast Messr.s Vincent, McOrmick & Murphy set out and we soon after proceeded on our Journey- Gave Mr. Good 2 Otter Skins, by his account nearly equal to all his winter’s acquirements

[August] 12

Very early got under way and encamped in the evening 3 Leags. from the Mama

[August] 13

After an early departure this morning we reached Point au Pair? after sunset.

[August] 14

Arrived at Mr. Ermatinger’s to breakfast passed the Portage before the N.W. Gentlemen were out of bed.

[August] 15

In the forenoon Messrs Simon McGillivray, Smith, Vandersluyes &c passed in a light canoe full of men for Sandwich, it was afternoon before I could follow them in a Canoe with 5 men, after we had put up Coll. McKay, Mr. [Forrest?] &c. in a Canoe passed Sault St Mary

[August] 16

A Head wind stopt us after proceeding a few miles this morning when Mr. Dugd. Cameron, and an unknown Gentleman in a Canoe with 8 men came to us, here they breakfasted, after they set out we soon attempted to follow, the wind abating we made more progress, and with hard labour reached Drummond’s Island in the Evening.

[August] 17

Set out for Michillimackina with two additional men, they have been buying Indian Corn stored here for Earl Selkirk by which a very great diminution of measure is caused, Mr. Vincent said that he did not wish that process performed on any he received, as Mr. Ermatinger said his Store is put in order I ordered Mr. [Laroix’s? Lemoine’s?] Clerk to send the whole to Sault St Mary where it will be nearer for conveyance to the places requiring it, and all be in one Store instead of two- a Gale of head wind stopt us on sight of Michillimackina.

[August] 18

A Head wind stopt our arrival till noon- I instantly agreed with the Captain of a Vessel and at 10 pm sailed for Detroit.

[August] 19

Contrary wind drove us into the Harbour of Michillimakina at 6 this morning”


Index ‘McNab, John, and Selkirk’ 325: reel C-4, p. 3951, image 809

i.e. letter from John McNab to Selkirk (19 August 1817, Michilimackinac); McNab’s journey slowed by adverse winds; wary that new action is being plotted against him.

“My Lord

Hearing Mr. Morrison had given in a deposition at Michillimakinac for the American Govert. Relative of occurrences at Fond du Lac during last winter, I have obtained through the attention and goodness of Major Puthuff the original document- He was so obliging as [to] permit me to take a copy, which I have the Honor to send to your Lordship by Mr. Lafroise who promises it shall be safely transmitted- the Major seems by no means influenced by its contents, he apparently retains the best sense of your Lordships intentions- the declaration is to be forwarded to his Excellency the Govr. At Detroit.

I have been unlucky in my procedure since leaving the S.S. Mary by perpetual adverse winds, and bad weather I sailed last night for Sandwich and the vessel was drove back this morning- I hear Mr. Taitt accompanies Vandersluyes, most probably some new process is in agitation to be raised against me; I trust Col. [William Bacheler] Coltman has properly applied the Warrants.”


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”

“[August] 20

Contrary wind continues blowing strong, was introduced to a Major Putoff by Messrs Cromartie & Jacobs & he afterwards came to Mr. Ermatingers (my residence) shewed me a declaration of Mr. Morrison’s at Fort du Lac expressing grievance against Earl Selkirk and the Officers at Fort du Lac; which he said would be laid before congress, he was so good as permitt me to take a copy, which I sent by Mr. Lacroix- to his Lordship. No trader can go into the interior of Michillimackina without a licence from this Gentleman and every trader so licenced must take with him as supernumerary an American subject. Mr. Ermatinger told me he paid 200 Dollars for the one he was obliged to take, he appeared to have little education and was addicted to spirit liquors, in the evening the wind changed in our favour, and I again went on board the Widow’s Son, a Vessel of 40 Tons, a Lady and her children seemed sufficient for the Cabin and I slept on the Ballast in the Hold”

[NB: reference to ‘a Lady and her children’ indicates Jane and family are in company]


Index ‘McNab, John, and Selkirk’ 326: reel C-4, p. 3957, image 815

i.e. letter from John McNab to Selkirk (20 August 1817 Michilimackinac); mentions proposal to send cattle to Red River.

“Mr. [James] Aird desires me to inform your Lordship that the proposals sent to him from Drummonds Island last summer for supplying the Colony of Red River with 50 young cows at 50 Dollars per head can be performed; and if your Lordship pleases to authorize him he will endeavour and he thinks he can succeed in landing them there in the course of next Summer which when accomplished a draft for payment from your Lordships Agent at Red River will be expected.

Mr. Aird understands from Mr. [Jean Joseph] Rolette that he had made proposals to your Lordship on this subject, and if so, he is very capable of fulfilling them.- if your Lordship has further desires to communicate to Mr. Aird his address is Trader at La Prairie du Chien Mississippi”


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”

“[August] 21

Got under way at 3 this morning in the evening passed Thunder Bay Island, said by our Captain (Hands) to be half way to River Sinclair

[August] 22

At 9 am passed Point of Bark course S S E Wind N N E blows fresh- after dark entered River Sinclair, and came to an anchor 9 miles down the river.

[August] 23

At 1 p.m. reached Detroit, and after passing through Custom House forms got my Trunk into the Ferry House and went to Sandwich- called immediately on Mr. Woods, he told me the Court had been convened and the business terminated some months ago, that I had been called upon, but as none appeared against me nothing was done- my leave of absence was till the 25th of this month.

[August] 24

At 1 pm set out for Amherstburg, in hopes of finding a Vessel for my procedure to Montreal (none being here) and to pay my respects to Capn. Askin and Mr. Innes who became Bail for Mr. Spencer and myself, before I reached half way the Horse failed, and I lodged at a small Inn during the night.

[August] 25

My driver and Horse not appearing this morning agreed with one who drove to Amerhertburg to Breakfast- no Vessel here- waited on Capn. Askin- in the Evening the Wellington arrived.

[August] 26

Capn. Askin accompanied me to Mr. Innes’s house- he is in doubts of a Vessel being here for some time—the Widow’s Son passed.

[August] 27

No Vessels going to Fort Erie of Buffaloe- the Wellington proceeded up the river- dined with Capn. Askin.

[August] 28

Messrs Simon McGillivray & Smith (Sheriff deputy) arrived in the Inn, entered my apartment (inadvertently I presume) I advanced towards them with the usual salutations, both cooly returned them, startled backwards and disappeared. A Canoe and 14 men is at the shore waiting for them; they came to the Inn for fresh [steak?], the Landlord told me he gave them a Pidgeon Pye, and the contents of his Larder, Butter &c. and they immediately proceeded for York, report says Mr. Smith goes with the hopes of an appointment at York or Kingston, under the N.W. Company, as Agent, or provider of Goods for that concern, no hopes of a passage finding a Vessel from Detroit.- need a Letter from Mr. Woods, arrived at Mr. Drysdale’s in the evening

[August] 29

This morning I went to Detroit, found a Vessel going to Erie or [Presque?] Isle, no vessel here going lower, and none expected soon I agreed with the Capn. and returned to Sandwich, and as he dropt down went on board at 11 a.m.- in the Evening anchored at the entrance into Lake Erie.

[August] 30

Sailed at Sunrise Wind contrary reached the Islands at Sunset- a small Sloop, and a Boat conducted by one man are near us, a short distance off, our Capn. tells us is where the Engagement between Commodores Barclay & Perry was fought. Capn. Johnstone (an American) our Commander says the English fought well but the Americans much better, his men seconded him, as they were all drinking whiskey together, argument was vain, and they voiced their opinions

[September] 1

Calm weather and head winds prevented us from reaching Pudding Bay Island till noon Here the Vessels of both Commodores wintered after the conflict mentioned yesterday, and, a Short distance off the spot was pointed out where several Officers and many men were buried; one of our Crew told us he was on board Commodore Perry’s ship during the action and wintered in her. Anchored here and ballasted our Vessel (of [10? 40?] Tons) with Limestone

[September] 2

Got under way at 9 a.m. with a favorable breeze which soon failed. Course E by S the land along the S side of the Lake in sight.

[September] 3

At 8 this morning passed the Grand River in the Province of Ohio; two miles further is the Entry, a broad out path to the late Govr. Huntington’s Estate on which he has lately built an elegant House Course E N. E running a few miles from the shore, our Crew drinks plentifully of Whiskey on all occasions the Keg stands in the Cabin, and when the bottle which is generally on deck is emptied it is filled without ceremony and each helps himself not infrequently.

[September] 4

Came to anchor at 3 o’clock this morning 2 miles off Erie among several other Vessels one of which had as many troops on board as could be conveyed, for the Forts above Detroit. Viz Grasset at the head of River Sinclair, Michillimachina, and Green Bay in the Michigan Territory, to this latter vicinity a number of Settlers have gone this summer, a passenger, now on board has come from thence, says the soil is fine, and proposes carrying his family from the State of New York to form a residence in the Territory of Michigan, which he says will soon be nominated a Province  At 7 a.m. hove anchor and sailed the Vessel nearer the shore, with two Passengers I went on shore and in the Exchange Coffee House at Erie breakfasted with 8 or more Naval Officers (boarders) who I was told had not above as many under their command, they have all full pay, in a Cove a considerable distance off, the Bowsprit of Commadore Barclay’s late Vessel was pointed out among others, sunk for their preservation. Commodore Perry’s late ship lay at Anchor 2 miles from the Town agree with the Capn. of a small Sloop for Buffalo- he sails this day and desired me to go on board which I gladly did and at noon we sailed the Capn. his brother, one sailor and a boy are our Crew- among whom the Whiskey bottle goes round all hours, all the afternoon we had a fine favourable breeze and fine weather and the Captain told me the many times he had passed to Buffaloe, of his superior knowledge of every Point, Bay, and Creek &c. in sight of his course, which he knew perfectly, night or day in all winds & weather; this we became doubtful of about midnight when the wind changed and blew very fresh, rained hard, and became very dark. Capn. Johnston now showed anxiety, light was seen on our lee Bow, and his brother Davy was consulted Davy said he ought instantly to put about, the ship missed stays (the first time known? by former assertions) the Capn said nothing. Davy’s commands were listened to and obeyed, and till day light appeared, when the Gale eased, we heard no more of the Capn’s proficiency. which every one had now great reason to deny.

[September] 5

At 9 this morning arrived at Buffalo. I immediately landed with out Captain now in high glee and boasting of his quick passage- got a calash [sic: caleche] to the Ferry, where I was obliged to stop till a Vessel was hauled up the current (here very strong) by 12 yoke of fine American oxen  At a small Inn on the British side of the Niagara River I found a returning Waggon for Chippaway which instantly set out and arrived there at 2 pm an hour after set out in a Calash for Fort George which we reached at 9 in the morning.

[September] 6

Heard of a Vessel bound for York the first fair wind (the Steam Boat not expected for 5 or 6 days) the Capn. promised to inform me before he sailed. entered into conversation with a Gentn. from Quebec, a fellow lodger Niagara Coffee House, he told me, a quantity of Warlike Stores as Blunderbusses, or Musquetoons, Cutlasses &c, &c, had been landed at Quebec some time before he left it, and that they were consigned to the N.W. Company, an occurrence considered as singular by many respectable inhabitants there. At 10 p.m. a Message came that the Vessel would sail in an hour or two for York. I accompanied the Messenger on board and we were soon under sail in Lake Ontario- I heard that Mr. McGillivray and companions had passed on for York.

[September] 7

At 11 this forenoon landed in York.- I heard of Mr. McGillivray being in Town, a fellow passenger from Niagara was so good as go with me to near where the canoe men pitched their Tent, he proceeded by himself to obtain News, found only one man (the Cook) who told him his Comrades had set out early that morning in the Canoe, Messrs McGillivray, Smith &c on board in great haste for Fort George  After Sermon I called on Mr. Wood, he told me the Post would set out tomorrow for Kingston, and that I might obtain a seat in the Teelide [sic: Leetide?]; offering his services for enquiry, I waited his return, and he soon told me he had procured a Seat. I hear Coll. McKay is also a companion of the McGillivray’s here. Mr. [Strang?] delivered a Sermon in the Afternoon which I attended, accompanied by a Mr. Hands the Sheriff’s son- a boader in the Tavern I am lodging in.

[September] 8

Mr. Wood invited me to dinner, he seemed inclined to favor the cause of the N.W. Gentn. and corroborates what I formerly mentioned as the cause of Mr. Smith’s accompanying Mr. McGillivray At 4 pm. I was called by the Postman who drove 10 miles to Cornwall.

[September] 9

Breakfasted at Thompson’s- 6 miles – dined at Lyon’s – 13 miles lodged at Blair’s – 18 miles of the Postman’s reckoning – road in general very bad

[September] 10

Breakfasted at Ropers- 13 miles- to Hamilton 13 miles and 7 more to Hadimand where we supped, as did the Postman proceeding to York

[September] 11

To Hodges 9 miles where we took Breakfast, thence to an Americans 5 miles, to the Ferry 9 miles more, and further 12 miles to the Post Office lodged at Nelson’s in the Village, in the Bay of Ganty.

[September] 12

Breakfasted while the Mail was getting ready, and passed on 16 miles to the Indian Tavern in Cherokee Woods and to Capn. Traulich’s 17 miles further where we lodged- One of our Horses tired, and with some difficulty the Postman got him changed

[September] 13

Passed on 6 miles to Forrest town to Breakfast & 18 miles further came to Kingston. these distances are the computation of the Postman who reached here at 2 P.M. Earl Selkirk’s Agent said he had heard from good authority that the cases of the N.W. Gentlemen had been set aside at Montreal, and were to be tried at Sandwich in Upper Canada  I am anxious to reach Montreal as soon as possible, as I expressed my intention of returning from Sandwich to Point Meuron, and am in hopes of advice how to act with that station, there will be time for sending a supply of Articles for Indian Trade there as I had promised to them and if not done they will be highly disappointed. Agreed with a Boat’s Crew who are ready for departure for Montreal tomorrow morning.

[September] 14

After Breakfast the Boatmen were ready, and the wind was contrary they set sail, and continued at their oars all night and reached [ranaquey?].

[September] 15

Stopt at Simpson’s to breakfast- in the evening contrary wind obliged us to put on shore, and we slept in a Farm house near the [Block?] house.

[September] 16

Landed a passenger at Brockville where we took breakfast a passenger went on shore at Prescot?- Supped at a German’s while the Crew cooked At 9 p.m. got under way, ran all night over the rapids & currents, wind favorable.

[September] 17

Took a hasty refreshment at the Cedars, and, dined at La Chine; afterwards proceeded to Montreal and in the evening went on board a Straw Boat which proceeds for Quebec to-morrow morning.

[September] 18

In the forenoon landed at Sorrel, and waited on the Countess of Selkirk, mentioned what I thought might be eligible in arranging business in the inland departments, her Ladyship said, this must be postponed till his Lordships arrival. I took leave and set out for Montreal. Half way stopt for the night.

[September] 19

this forenoon I arrived in Montreal.

[September] 20

Set out to visit my old friends at Vaudriel, bad weather prevented my proceedure above La Chine.

[the ‘old friends’ are John Thomas Sr. and family who settled at Vaudreuil County, Quebec, in 1814. They had travelled there from Moose Factory, with ‘Mrs. McNab in company]

[September] 21

Proceeded onwards this morning passing Mr. Peter Grant’s, Mr. Daniel McKenzie was standing at his door I made myself known, he avoided countenancing it, soon after my entry into the Ferry house, he entered the room in a rude manner, asked if I had come to arrest him again, and threatening revenge for what I had done, after a short silence I asked what he meant he replied that I had advised Earl Selkirk to do what he had done, and that Mr. Miles McDonald had told him so; I told him he paid me too high a compliment, and that I doubted the certainty of his information, told him when we last parted I did not suppose there would be such a meeting on his part, he cooled and wished to apologize; I stept onboard the Canoe, and after crossing at the Ferry soon met my old friend Mr. Thomas at Vaudriel.

[September] 27

Anxious to know if I could proceed to Europe with propriety previous to Earl Selkirk’s arrival, I set out for Montreal, slept for the night, at La Chine.

[September] 28

Arrived in Montreal.

[September] 29 I stated my desires to Mr. Forrest, he advised me to call on Mr. Stewart offering to accompany, we went together. I mentioned the nature of the business at Sandwich, and my wishes to proceed to Europe, he recommended by all means my waiting Earl Selkirk’s arrival, which I now patiently do; and prefer staying at Vaudriel.

[October] 1

Again set out for Vaudriel and got there in the evening- In the Ferry House I again saw M. D. McKenzie, in a very different humour than formerly: he took me by the hand in such a manner as prevented a refusal; during a short conversation Mr. Dugald Cameron was entering, when on perceiving me, he suddenly drew back, and went out of the House, Daniel followed him, they conversed some time together; Danl. again came into the room and after answering some enquiries about his family (which he said he daily expected) we parted.

[October] 2

Mr. Colin Robertson’s servant called, asking the road to some persons residence to whom he had a Letter. I gave him all the information I was able, desired him to tell his master that I had seen D. Cameron yesterday, advising his return this way and that I would write to Messrs Forrest and Robertson on the occasion.

[October] 13

Having received an invitation some time ago, I this day visited Mr. Pillet; we had conversed some time, when the circumstance of his obstructed procedure to Fort William became the subject I mentioned Earl Selkirks disappointment and regret, he acknowledged the sufficiency of reason for both, saying sickness was the cause, and that was the only excuse he could give for an action so inconsiderate and ill judged. He then unfolded his plans for carrying on his Winterer’s parties to trade for the ensuing winter, particularizing the stations he means them to occupy, their situation, the opposition he may expect, which he says he little dreads and concluded with expressing a wish, his Lordship or the Hudson’s Bay Company, would countenance and accord with proposals which would be highly contenting to all, at the same time expressing his sentiments how he would act, and the security he would give for a prosperous event and how highly injurious it would ultimately prove to the N.W. company, whom he expressed an ardent desire to oppress on all occasions, and in the most vigorous manner; stating the extent of his success last year, which was 48 Packs of very fine Furs, this last I should not have credited, had not Mr. Thomas assured me the truth thereof, who says he himself saw the Packs, and remarked the Numbers as they lay in Pillets house, and he says such a quantity of so superior a quality gave him no little surprise. I told Mr. Pillet, I could give him no hopes, in having such desires accomplished and joined him in wishing success to the opposers of N.W. tyranny.

[October] 19

Visiting a friend, Mr. Pillet enters, he told us he was so far on his way to his wintering posts; that he would reach his men and Canoes at Mr. Grant’s above the Rapids, according to appointment, he is not determined on wintering in the interior himself, but says he is to explore as far as circumstances will admit; that he has two opponents to contend with, a Capt. Deschaps (brother-in-law to Capn. Lorimier) and a Mr. Lyons, the first acts as Emmissary and distributor, of the Indian presents from Govt. the other is Interpreter, both are residents as well as Pillet in the Indian Village. Lyons passed by on his Journey upwards, while Mr. Pillet was in conversation with us. he says both these Gentlemen are supported by the N.W. Company in this business, and that the Goods they send are from there Now, this I have heard alledged [sic] by others of respectability, who also said, that a Mr. [Rolur?] a Trader to the N.W.Co. in River de [Licone?] (where Mr. Pillet intends having a Post) was authorized to expend a Canoe load or Two in the most discretionary manner, so as, if possible to prevent Mr. Pillet from getting a single skin. Since writing the above, I am informed Mr. Lyons brother is to Winter at the Ghat’s?, close by Mr. Pillet’s principal post.

J. McNab.”


Index ‘McNab, John, goods forwarded by directions from’ 338: reel C-4, p. 4169, image 1027

i.e. letter, from Charles Oates Ermatinger to Selkirk (28 October 1817, Sault Ste Marie)

As per McNab’s instructions “the Cols of Cordage and Canvases stored at this place on account of the Honble. Hudson’s Bay Co. have been forwarded to Drummonds Island; and there disposed of by him” a quantity of corn still remains at the Sault.


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