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Travels & Adventures


In Canada and the Indian Territories Between the Tears 1760 and 1776 By Alexander Henry, Fur Trader. New Edition, Edited with Notes, Illustrative and Biographical, by James Bain (1901)

Editors Preface

Alexander Henry was born in New Jersey in August, 1739. His parents were reputable people in the middle rank of life, who are said to have come from the West of England, and to have been connected with Matthew Henry, the Biblical commentator. Of his early days nothing is known, but it is evident from his book and from the position he assumed in official and commercial circles that he received a good English education. When we first make his acquaintance he was in his twenty-first year, and had joined Amherst’s army, not as a soldier, but in a “premature attempt to share in the fur trade of Canada, directly on the conquest of the country.” Wolfe’s victory at Quebec in the previous year had awakened the English traders to the opportunity presented, of taking over the fur trade which the French had opened up, and Amherst’s large army was watched with great interest as it swept away the last remnant of French control. The “Travels and Adventures” which followed “occupy a period of sixteen years, commencing nearly with the author’s setting out in life.” It is improbable that his first acquaintance with the character and requirements of this particular trade was to be made on the banks of the St. Lawrence, and we may safely assume that he had had some previous knowledge of it in one of the trading establishments at Albany or New York.

In Boston, in 1766, a book of 160 pages was published, entitled “Account of the Captivity of William Henry in 1765, and of his residence among the Senneka Indians six years and seven months, till he made his escape from them” which may be an explanation of his introduction to the fur trade. Of this book no copy seems to be known. It cannot be traced in the catalogues of any of the great American or English libraries, and is not to be found in the bibliographies of Sabine, Rich, Field or Pilling. Of William Henry we only know that he was a trader with the Ohio Indians, and was made prisoner by the Senecas, and in the absence of his book have no means of tracing him, but the name is not a common one. At the time of William’s captivity, Alexander was sixteen years old. It is not improbable that the first named was a near relative, perhaps uncle, and that Alexander had been by him introduced to the trade while very young, and that finding William did not return after four years absence, had ventured what goods he possessed in an expedition on his own account. The case is strengthened, also, by the fact that Henry’s eldest son, born long after in Montreal, was named William, and that about 1787 a nephew named Alexander Henry, Jr., joined him there, who afterward became himself a noteworthy North-Wester, and whose journals have recently been most copiously edited by the late Elliott Coues. But whatever had been his connection with trading, previous to his setting out, it is quite evident that he had not spent much time among the Indians from his own statement' that “a bark canoe was a vehicle to which I was altogether a stranger” as well as to the snow-shoes, “an article of equipment which I never used before.” In the London Chronicle of June 23rd and 25th, 1768, are given two extracts from William Henry’s book which exhibit a similar interest in the mental and social condition of the Indians to that which characterizes Alexander Henry’s writings, and as they are apparently the only portions now extant, they are worth reprinting.

“This writer, who is an Englishman, gives a plain short account of his education in human learning at an academy in Northampton; his settlement in America, as a trader with the Ohio Indians; his being surprised and made a prisoner at the breaking out of the late war; his spiritual change or conversion during his sickness and other afflictions, and then among a multitude of other particulars relating to the Indians, says:

“I had always a facility in learning languages and the pains I took after my adoption to acquire theirs, with the proficiency I soon made in it, ingratiated me a good deal with the Indians, so that in this third year I found myself much respected. Old Canassatego; a warrior, counsellor, and the chief man of our village, used to come frequently to smoke and talk with me, while I worked at my new f business, and many of the younger men would come and sit with him, pleased to hear our conversations. As he soon saw I was curious on that head he took a good deal of pains to instruct me in the principles of their eloquence, an art (it may seem strange to say it but it is strictly true) carried much higher among these savages than it is now in any part of Europe, as it is their only polite art, as they practice it from their infancy, as everything of consequence is transacted in councils, and all the force of their government consists in persuasion. He would also often enquire of me concerning our wars, history, customs, arts, etc., and sometimes about our religious opinions. I then regretted that I had so unhappily refused the advantage once in my power of acquiring a store of divine knowledge under the pious instructions of Dr. Doddridge, which my friends of all things wished, intending me for the ministry, but my mind was extremely averse to it, and I had abruptly left him against their advice, which obstinacy of mine was the beginning of my misfortunes. But enough of that/* The writer then goes on to relate sundry conversations he had at different times with the Indians on religious subjects occasioned by his acquainting them with parts of our scripture history. These we pass over, as containing little entertainment or information except the follow -ing, by which we may learn how imperfect the Indian ideas are of tiod, what partial notions they have of the creation, and how widely different from ours their opinions are of those regulations of commerce by which one nation proposes to make advantage to itself in distressing the trade of others. The Europeans think such regulations wise and good; the Indian it seems, the highest folly and wickedness.

“While I was musing in what manner best to explain this matter to his understanding, Konnedohaga, the young warrior, took up the discourse, and said: 1 You tell us that the great Manitta made all these things in the first six days. I find we know some things that you do not know. Your book does not tell you everything. At least if your Manitta made all the things of your country in the first six days it was not so in this Indian country, for some things were not made till many generations after, and they were made by our Manitta’s daughter. I will tell you, says he, how it happened, as I learned it when I last hunted among the Oneidas. Nine Oneida warriors passing near a certain hill not far from the head of the Sasquehanah saw a most beautiful young woman descend naked from the clouds, and seat herself on the ground upon that hill. Then they said, this is the great Manitta’s daughter; let us go to her, welcome her into our country and present her some of our venison. They gave her a fawn’s tongue broixed, which she eat, and, thanking them, said: " Come to this place again after twelve moons and you will find where I now sit some things you have never yet seen, and that will do you good.’ So saying she put her hands on the ground, arose, went up into the clouds and left them. They came accordingly after twelve moons and found growing, where she had pressed the ground with her right hand, corn where with her left hand beans and where her back parts had pressed it, there grew tobacco/ At this origin of tobacco all the young Indians laughed, but old Canassatego, reproving them, and the teller of the story said, ‘You are a young man or you would not have told before this white man such a story. It is a foolish Oneida tale. If you tell him such tales what can you expect but to make him laugh at our Indian stories as much as you sometimes do at his ? Hearken to me, I will tell you and him all the true story of the beginning of this country and the making of all things in it, such as I long since learnt it from my mother, who had it from her mother, and so on backwards for a hundred generations.

“When we sat silent a few minutes he said: ‘White man, hearken to me; hear me Coseagon. You say there is but one great good Manitta. You know of no more. If there were but one, how unhappy must he be without friends, without companions, and without that equality in conversation by which pleasure is mutually given and received. I tell you there are more than a hundred of them; they live in the sun and in the moon; they love one another as brethren; they visit and converse with each other, and they sometimes visit though they do not often converse with us. Every country has its great good Manitta who first peopled that country. I am now going to. tell you how my country was made and peopled.

“Then raising his voice and entering into the council style and manner of speaking and with that modulation, which I may call the quoting tone, being what they use when repeating messages, treaties or anything that has been said by others in former times, distant places, or preceding councils; a tone so particular, that if you come into a council in the middle of a speech you can tell whether the person speaking is delivering his own sentiments or reciting those of another, this tone having the same effect in their speeches and answering nearly the same end, with our marginal inverted commas in writing, to distinguish borrowed passages quoted as authorities; only that the Indians have three differences in the quoting tone, none of which we have in writing, viz., the approving accent, the disapproving accent, and the uncertain or doubting, and that there is something measured or musical in all these tones. I say, Canassatego, in the quoting or historical tone with the approving accent and with an air of great authority and dignity, went on with his account of the manner in which his country was made and peopled.

“When our good Manitta raised Akanishionegy" out of the great waters he said to his brethren, “How fine a country is this! I will make the red men the best of men to enjoy it.” Then with five handfuls of red seeds like the eggs of flies, did he strow the fertile fields of Onondaga. Little worms came out of the seeds and penetrated the earth, where the spirits who had never yet seen the light entered into and united with them. Manitta watered the earth with his rain; the sun warmed it; the worms with the spirits in them grew, putting forth little arms and legs and moved the light earth that covered them. After nine moons they came forth perfect boys and girls. Manitta covered them with his mantle of warm purple cloud and nourished them with milk from his finger ends. Nine summers did he nurse them, and nine summers more did he instruct them how to live. In the meantime he had made for their use trees, plants and animals of various kinds. Akanishionegy was covered with woods and tilled with creatures. Then he assembled his children together and said, (‘ Ye are five nations, for ye sprang each from a different handful of the seed I sowed; but ye are all brethren, and I am your father, for I made ye all; I have nursed and brought you up:—Mohocks, I have made you bold and valiant, and see I give you corn for your food. Oneidas, I have made you patient of pain and of hunger; the nuts and fruits of the trees are yours. Sennekers, I have made you industrious and active; beans do I give you for nourishment. Cayugas, I have made you strong, friendly and generous; ground nuts and every root shall refresh you. Ononaagoes, I have made you wise, just and eloquent; squashes and grapes have I given you to eat and tobacco to smoke in the council. The beasts, birds and fishes I have given to you all in common. As I have loved and taken care of you all so do you love and take care of one another. Communicate freely to each other the good things I have given you, and learn to imitate each others virtues. I have made you the best people in the world, and I give you the best country. You will defend it from the invasion of other nations, from the children of other Manittas, and keep possession of it for yourselves while the sun and moon give light and the waters run in the rivers. This you shall do if you observe my words. Spirits, I am now about to leave you. The bodies I have given you will in time grow old and wear out, so that you will be weary of them, or from various accidents they will become unfit for your habitation and you will leave them. I cannot remain here always to give you new ones.

“I have great affairs to mind in distant places, and I cannot again attend so long to the nursing of children. I have enabled you, therefore, among yourselves to produce new bodies; to supply the place of old ones, that every one of you when he parts with his old habitation may in due time find a new one and never wander longer than he choses under the earth, deprived of the light of the sun.

“Nourish and instruct your children as I have nourished and instructed you. Be just to all men and kind to strangers that come among you. So shall you be happy and beloved by all, and I myself will sometimes visit and assist you.” Saying this he wrapped himself in a bright cloud and went like a swift arrow to the sun, where his brethren rejoiced at his return. From thence he often looked at Akanishionegy; and, pointing, showed with pleasure to his brothers the country he had formed and the nations he had produced to inhabit it.

“Here the five nations lived long and happily, communicating freely to each other as their wants required, all the good things that had been given them, and generations had succeeded generations when the great evil Manitta came among them and put evil thoughts into their hearts. Then the Mohocks scud: "We abound in com which our brothers have not; let us oblige them to give us a great deal of fruits, beans, roots, squashes and tobacco for a very little com, so shall we live in idleness and plenty while they labour and live hardly." And in the same manner spoke the other nations. Hence arose discord, animosity and hatred, insomuch that they were on the point of lifting the hatchet against each other and miring the ground with brother’s blood. Their Father saw this from the sun, and was angry with his children. A thick blue and red cloud covered all the land, and he spoke to them in thunder. "Wretches," said he, " did I not freely give to each of you different kinds of good things, and those in plenty, that each might have something in his power to contribute to his brother’s happiness, and so increase the happiness and strengthen the union of the whole; and do you now abuse those gifts to oppress each other; and would one brother, to make himself in imagination, more happy, make four brethren in reality more miserable! Ye have become unworthy of the goodness I have shown you, and shall no longer enjoy my favours. Then the sun of Akanishionegy gave forth darkness instead of light, so that the day was darker than the night, the rivers ran backwards to the mountains, and, with all their fish, re-entered the fountains from whence they sprung, forsaking their ancient beds and leaving dry the banks they used to water.

“The clouds withheld their rain, and carried it away to other regions. The surface of the earth became dust; whirlwinds filled the air with it, and every breathing creature was almost stifled; every green thing withered ; the birds flew away; the beasts ran out of the country, and, last of all, the afflicted people famished nearly to death, their dry eyes not having even a tear left, departed sorrowing, and were scattered among the neighbouring nations, begging everywhere for food from those who despised them for their late wickedness to one another.

“Nine summers passed away, and their distress continued. Then the evil spirit left them, for they no longer listened to his counsels; they began mutually to feel and to pity one another’s misfortunes; they began to love and to help each other. The nations among whom they were scattered now began to esteem them, and offered to adopt and incorporate them among themselves. But they said: ‘No; we are still a people, we chose to continue a people; perhaps our great Manitta will restore us to our country and we will then remember this your offered kindness.’ The great Manitta seeing their hearts changed looked on them with compassion. He spoke and the sun again gave light; the rivers came again forth from the fountains, and ran rejoicing through the delighted valleys; the clouds again showered on the thirsty earth; the trees and plants renewed their verdure; the birds and beasts returned to the forests, and the five nations, with glad and thankful hearts, went back to repossess their ancient seats. From that time down to the present day it has been an inviolable rule and custom among the nations, that every brother is welcome to what a brother can spare of the good things which the spirit has caused to spring for him out of the earth.'

“All the Indians applauded Canassatego, and said they had heard that good story often, but never before so well repeated. Indeed, however absurd and false in its facts, it was admirably expressed and delivered. In my account of it I have been obliged to drop many of the figures, which, being unusual to us, would require long explanations, and I must own I think it scarce possible in our language (I am sure it is impossible for me) to do Indian eloquence justice. Canassatego then made some remarks himself on the story, and told us that the English and French, though they called the Indians brothers, had long practiced the same wickedness towards them, making everything dear that they exchanged with them, and even the things they the English and French exchanged with one another. Corlaer says he, first makes Onontiof pay dearer for strouds and blankets; then Onontio makes Corlaer pay as much dearer for beaver; what, at best, can either of them get by this but his own inconvenience and the other's ill-will? But this is not all. It is for these causes that the great spirit of the white people is now angry with them, and has left them to lift the hatchet, brother agaiAst brother, to destroy their own habitations and bring misery on both their countries.

“I could not let all this pass without modestly remarking that his account of the beginning of things was subject to great uncertainty as being trusted to memory only, from woman to woman through so many generations, and might have been greatly altered, whereas the account I gave them was written down by direction of the Great Spirit himself and preserved carefully in a book which was never altered, but had ever remained the same and was undoubtedly the truth. 1 Coseagon/ says Canassatego, ‘ you are yet almost as rude as when you first came among us. When young it seems you were not well taught; you did not learn the civil behaviour of men. We excused you; it was the fault of your instructors But why have you not more improved since you have long had the opportunity from our example? You see I always believed your stories, why do you not believe mine Alaguippy and the other Indians kindly made some apology for me, saying I should be wiser in time, and they concluded with an observation which they thought very polite and respectful towards me, that my stories might be best for the white people, but Indian stories were undoubtedly best for Indians.

“Now, it is well known that some who have before me been among these Indians, have reported highly of their stories, as if there were something super-excellent in them. I have, therefore, given this story of theirs at full length, translated as well as I am able, and I can faithfully assure my readers it is one, of their very best, by which may be seen the miserable darkness these poor creatures labour under, and how far inferior their best instructions do appear when compared with the unerring oracles that we possess and the histories contained in them.”

Alexander Henry’s adventures commence with his descent of the St. Lawrence and his first experience of war with the conquest of Fort Levis in September, 1760. In attempting to run the Cedar Rapids his boats were upset and all his goods lost, he escaped with difficulty himself. With the capitulation of Montreal, he saw that the opportunity of trading was come, and, hurrying back to Albany, “where my commercial connections were,” secured a fresh supply of goods. Winter overtook him at Fort Levis, and he spent the season there disposing of his goods to the garrison. His adventures on the journey between Fort Levis and Montreal are such as we might expect from the first experience of a young man among the stray Indians demoralized by the war movement of the time. It was, however, when thus harassed and almost despairing of his life from the threats of the Indians and the inclemency of the weather, that his feet were directed to the house of a friendly Frenchman, who had ventured into the Indian hunting grounds in the North-West, and who captivated him with his stories of the fabulous wealth in furs to be obtained there. As soon as it was possible after his arrival in Montreal, he persuaded General Gage to give him permission to set out on a fur-trading expedition, and after a hurried trip to Albany for fresh supplies he started upon his journey, little thinking that it would be nearly fifteen years before he would again see Montreal.

Under the French regime furs had been the principal object of commerce. The trade, at first confined to the neighbourhood of the St. Lawrence and the lower great lakes was extended by the enterprise of the fur-traders, who carried on their operations in spite of the government, to Michilimackinac and Lake Superior. The failure of the great French companies, principally through mismanagement, left the path open to those whom Masson calls the “Coureurs des Bois, those heroes of the prairie and the forest, regular mixture of good and evil, who for long furnished the heroes to the modem romances, extravagant by nature, at the same time grave and gay, cruel and compassionate, as credulous as superstitious, and always irreligious.” Two of these, Radisson and Groseilliers, had in the seventeenth century been driven into the hands of the English, and were instrumental in establishing the Hudson’s Bay Company. The French Government were forced to adopt the system of licensing, and authorized the establishment of fortified trading posts, which were placed under officials charged with the oversight of large districts. Prominent among these ,was Michilimackinac, which had grown into importance as a convenient meeting place for the natives of the lands bordered on Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. From this place, in 1731, the most adventurous of all the traders, M. La V^rendrye and his sons, set out, and in the interval between this date and 1748, had established a series of posts extending from the Grand Portaere to the Forks of the Saskatchewan. There Rainy Lake, Fort St. Charles on the Lake of the Woods, Fort Maurepas at the mouth of the Winnipeg River, Fort Dauphin on the north-west, and Fort La Reine on the south side of Lake Manitoba, Fort Rouge at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers, Fort Bourbon on Cedar Lake, Fort Poskoyac on the Saskatchewan, and Fort La Come at the junction of the north and south branches of the same river. It only remained for M. de Niverville to plant Fort La Jonqui&re at the foot of the Rocky Mountains to complete their march westward, before the whole country passed under the dominion of England. The conquest of Canada altered the whole character of the trade. Until the country had settled down after the war few licenses were issued, but soon the trade was made free from all government interference. Alexander Henry was among the first to obtain permission, and, as soon as the weather permitted, started for Michilimackinac, travelling by the regular route of the Ottawa River and Lake Huron. Passing across this lake he found that the Indians had not yet recognized the change of government, and that it was necessary for him to disguise himself as a Frenchman. Michilimackinac had been supplied with a small force of English soldiers from Detroit, and was, with the exception of the small post on Green Bay, the most westerly fortified position in the British Dominion. This story, told by Henry, of his adventures in this place and of his escape from the massacre has been frequently repeated. Parkman, who depends on Henry for this portion of his “ Conspiracy of Pontiac,” says: “The authenticity of this very interesting book has never been questioned. Henry was living at Montreal as late as the year 1809. In 1797 he, with others, claimed, in virtue of Indian grants, large tracts of land west of the River Cuyahoga, in the present State of Ohio. A letter from him is extant, dated in April of that year, in which he offers this land to the Connecticut Land Company at one-sixth of a dollar an acre.” To a Frenchman he was again indebted for a new introduction to the fur trade, and, in partnership with M. Cadotte, he extended his enterprise to the shores of Lake Superior. The mining fever which diverted his attention lasted only a short time, when he returned to trading, and joined the band of quarrelsome traders who had already made the Grand Portage the principal station in the North-West. From Michilimackinac the furs had passed into the hands of the English traders at Albany, advantage being taken of the ships sailing to Niagara, but the leading spirits at the Grand Portage were Canadians, and their furs reached Montreal by the Ottawa River. The English of New York were hampered by lack of skilled labour, but the Canadian traders found ready to their hand the French Canadians, the best canoe and bush men in the world. Breaking off from the motley crowd at the Grand Portage, Thomas Curry was the first Canadian to penetrate to the Saskatchewan and his success prompted James Finlay to follow. The Frobishers and Henry set out in the following year, going further north than either of their predecessors. Here they came in contact with the Hudson’s Bay Company, who were nettled at what they conceived was an invasion of their rights, and by the determined manner in which these free-traders settled down upon the regular routes of travel to their forts and secured from the Indians the furs they were taking to the agents of the company. The necessity for combination among these men to enable them to cope with the great company was the preliminary step to a more formal union, which ultimately became the great rival of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and was known as the North-West Company.

Henry’s narrative concludes with the account of his visit to the Assiniboines on the great prairie, of the success of their expedition to the Churchill River, and of their return to Montreal in 1776.

From this date we lose the benefit of the author’s guidance, but in the Canadian Magazine for April and May, 1824, we have a short biography, written by a friend, and published during the month in which he died.

“A character such as Mr. Henry could not long remain in obscurity; his arrival in Montreal, after an absence during which he suffered so much and encountered so many difficulties, soon made him an object of public notoriety, and introduced him personally to the first circles in the society at the time. Having signified his intention of visiting England, he found many friends ready to furnish him with introductory letters, and of whose offers he in some cases availed himself. In his visit to Europe it was his design to make a tour to France, and among others, he was furnished by M. St. Luc la Corne, then in this country, with letters to his brother, the celebrated Abbd La Come, in France. With these documents, he sailed for England in the first instance, in the year 1776; from thence he afterwards went to France, where he met a most flattering reception from the Abb6, and being by his influence introduced to court, was received .with such marks of condescension as made an impression upon his mind which was never eradicated. In particular, the remembrance of the attention which he received from the unfortunate Marie Antoinette was fresh in his memory, and mentioned by him only a very few days before his death.

“It ought to be mentioned, as a just tribute to Mr. Henry’s talents for attentive and correct observation, that previously to his departure for England, he presented Lord Dorchester, then Governor of Canada, with a chart of such parts of the Indian territory as he had travelled through; and the accuracy of this chart has been since confirmed in almost every particular, by the future surveys of that country which have since been made.

“But neither the kind feelings evinced towards Mr. Henry on his arrival in England, nor the hospitable reception he met with from many respectable characters to whom he carried letters, could induce him to remain there. A life of inactive pleasure, or even of tranquil enjoyment, was not suitable to a mind formed as his was. He returned to Canada in the spring of 1777, and after revisiting the Indian country, he made a second voyage across the Atlantic in the fall of the same year. The third and last visit he paid to Great Britain was in the year 1780, from whence he returned to Montreal in 1781. From this period his life presents a scene of less diversity, for although he still continued to trade with the Indians, he contrived to carry on his business through the medium of clerks, whom he sent to the different posts in that country in his stead, while he himself fixed his residence in Montreal.

‘‘During his life he had been several times subjected to heavy pecuniary losses, from various casualties incident to the trade he was engaged in; he had, in fact, realized at different times what might be considered a handsome fortune, and been frequently deprived of it by some untoward accident or other. At last his indefatigable perseverance triumphed and reaped its due reward, for at the time when he left off his joumies to the Indian country, he was possessed of a handsome competency; and soon after getting married, he settled to enjoy it in the bosom of his family and amidst a circle of highly respectable friends.

“The method in which he now carried on his Indian trade necessarily obliged him to engage a number of young men as clerks. Some of these, we believe, are still alive, and can bear testimony to the kind and honourable treatment which they experienced at his hand; and who still retain a grateful sense of the advantages they reaped from his extensive experience in this trade.

“For some years subsequent to 1781 we find Mr. Henry, in addition to his pursuits in the fur trade, carrying on business as a general merchant in Montreal. How long he continued to carry on the two occupations is not certain, but he ultimately disposed of his privileges in the Indian country to the North-West Company, and resigning the active department of the business to them, became a dormant partner in that firm, where he continued till 1796. Having disposed of his share in this establishment, he now relinquished all connection with the Indian trade, and during the rest of his life devoted his whole attention to the business of a general merchant.

“Mr. Henry's high character for correctness, and his punctuality in business soon secured to him the confidence and esteem of a wide circle of correspondents. His business increasing beyond what one individual could attend to, he took an old acquaintance and tried friend into partnership with him, about twenty-five years before his death, which allowed a relaxation from the more arduous duties of business, suitable for his advanced age. To his well-known talents as a merchant and his firmly established character for integrity he was indebted for his appointment as King’s Auctioneer for the District of Montreal, a situation which he received in 1812 and retained during the remainder of his days.

“After spending a life exposed to such trials, hardships and vicissitudes as we have noticed in the course of this memoir, and which nothing but a more than usual vigour of constitution could have protracted for so long a period, Mr. Henry died in Montreal on April 4th, 1824. The close of his existence farther indicated the strength of his constitution: for some months previous to his death his friends had observed an approaching debility of frame, which daily increased, till at last he sunk under no specific disease, but from a general decay of nature, in the eighty-fifth year of his age.

“After what has been already stated, little more is required to give the attentive reader an idea of the prominent parts of Mr. Henry’s character. He seemed by nature every way formed for the arduous duties of the life he had led. To a mind whose chief attributes were energy, perseverance and determined courage, suitable for the accomplishment of any enterprise to which danger or difficulty was attached, Mr. Henry joined a body formed for the endurance of fatigue and capable of great exertion He was about the middle size, distinguished by an easy and dignified deportment, and a symetry of shape, which attracted the notice of both the savage and the civilized, for among the Indian nations he went by the epithet of “the handsome Englishman,” and it may be remarked, as a proof that the idea that manly beauty is the same among all nations, for on his appearance at the court of France, he was known by the same distinctive appellation. Of his talents, the best estimate may be formed by a perusal of his writings, which bear unequivocal testimony of his having been a man of attentive observation. His manners bespoke a candid, open disposition, and formed a passport to an acquaintance immediately on being introduced to him. All these, combined with his social habits, extensive information, and the agreeable method in which he could convey a description of whatever he had seen, from the possession of colloquial talents of the first rate, drew around him a number of friends whose sincere esteem he possessed to the hour of his death.”

We get occasional glimpses of Henry between 1777 and 1733, while he was still engaged in the fur trade, in the Canadian Archives and the Montreal Gazette, which are quite in accordance with the high character given him. In 1785 he is one of the leading merchants of Montreal who presented a farewell address to the late Acting-Govemor, Hon. Henry Hamilton, and in January, 1787, signs an address of thanks to certain merchants of Montreal, passed at a meeting held at the Recollets Convent. We meet here also, for the first time, the signature of Alexander Henry, Jr. In August of the same year we find him signing a memorial from the heads of the General Society at Michilimackinac. Complaints had been made as to the conduct of Mr. Dease, the superintendent of Indian affairs, and Mr. Ainse, the interpreter, and Lord Dorchester appointed a commission in 1788 to investigate the charges, composed of three military officers and two merchants, of whom Mr. Henry was one. In 1789 he is back in Montreal and signs an address of welcome to the loyalist Bishop of Nova Scotia, Charles Inglis, on his first visit to Montreal. One of the difficulties which continually annoyed the furtraders was the uncertainty about the character of their men, to whom so much was entrusted, and in 1789, Henry, with ten other firms, agrees “not to employ any voyageur unless he produced a certificate from his cur.” His military duties seem also to have been attended to, for His Excellency the Governor grants him the same year his commission as lieutenant. In 1790 he is back in Michilimackinac attending the commission to which he had been appointed in 1788, evidently displeased at its slow progress, for “Messrs. William Grant and Henry, traders, belonging to the General Partnership, who were on the Board, said publicly that the proofs took too long—that they should be trading and not holding such enquiries—that they had pressing business elsewhere.” In May, 1791, he publishes an announcement that “The subscriber being about to quit the Province for some months, requests those who may have contract or other engagements with him, to address themselves to Messrs. McTavish, Frobisher and Company, with whom he leaves the management of his affairs during his absence.—Alexander Henry.” In 1792 he is one of those signing the address to Sir John Johnson on his departure, and in the following year a subscriber to the Voyageur's Relief Fund. Long after he left the fur trade, and was acting as King's Auctioneer, an incident occurred which illustrates the customs troubles of early days. The Montreal Herald, of March, 1812, says: “On the evening of Saturday or Sunday last, a gang of lawless villains forcibly broke into the store of Alexander Henry, Esq., and robbed it of thirty-four chests of tea, which had been formerly seized by the Custom House officials as smuggled property. When they reached the partition dividing the back from the front of the store they bored an upper and lower line of holes with an auger, exactly parallel, driving in the intermediate space, thus making room for a chest of tea. From the nature of the work it must have taken a dozen experienced, hardy, and villainous rogues to complete the atrocious task.” Henry advertised, offering a reward of $200 and a promising to keep the informer’s name secret. Whether he succeeded in getting it back is not stated We learn from “Doige’s Alphabetical List of Merchants of Montreal” that Messrs. Henry & Bethune occupied, in 1823, No. 129 St. Paul Street. Mr. Bethune was a nephew of Henry’s, and resided with him at 14 St. Urbain Street.

Alexander Henry’s “Travels and Adventures” were published in New York in 1807, and seem to have attracted little attention. They appear to have been compiled from “details from time to time committed to paper during his wanderings.” The earlier portion shows a want of correctness in the distances mentioned, which is the more surprising when we consider that he had "Sir Alexander Mackenzie’s Travels” in his hands for some years, and makes quotations from it. The first part of this book, containing a history of the Canadian fur trade, said to have been written by Roderick Mackenzie, has detailed measurements of the distances and of the obstructions to navigation between Montreal and Athabasca. It contains no reference to Henry, though the expedition to the Saskatchewan, in which Henry took part, is mentioned. Henry is constantly confusing leagues and miles, sometimes using miles when leagues would be correct, and sometimes the reverse. In Chapter II., page 24, he loses a whole month, writing July instead of August. But these blemishes are readily overlooked in the face of the correctness of his description and clear, simple, Defoe-like style. We look in vain for a rival in these respects. ^ With only one other American traveller of his century can he be compared—Jonathan Carver—whose narrative will always be read as the soldierly record of the earliest experience of an Englishman in that portion of the continent immediately to the south of the country described by Henry, but wanting that simplicity of style which is the charm of Henry's book. Łln addition to which Henry covered greater distances, described more dangerous adventures, and displayed a greater familiaritt with the manners and customs of the savage people whom he visited. That he dedicated' his book to Sir Joseph Banks would imply that he had met that friend .of discoverers during one of his visits to England, and that a common love of natural history and ethnology had drawn them together.

Henry's eldest son, William, born about 1783, inherited the adventurous spirit of his father. Entering the service of the North-West Company as a clerk, he was stationed from 1801 to 1809 at different posts in whajb is now the Province of Manitoba, part of his time being spent with his cousin, Alexander Henry, Jr. While in a camp of Assiniboines he barely escaped being stabbed by a drunken Saulteur. In 1810 he was in charge of the North-West Company's post at Cumberland House, and in the following year was on the Athabasca River, where he established a new post which was marked on the maps as Henry's House, though it was destroyed after an existence of only two or three years. It stood at the junction of the Miette River with the Athabasca facing the Yellowhead Pass, and was the most southerly post on the latter river. Its site was visited by Franchfere in 1814, and Ross Cox in 1817. From thence he was removed westward to the post on the Williamette River (Oregon), where he remained in charge until 1816. Orders from Canada caused him to return to Fort William on Lake Superior, and in 1817 he was sent to Lesser Slave Lake. At the time of the amalgamation of the two fur companies he returned to Montreal and became a surveyor and civil engineer. Here he married the sister of Mr. John Felton. About 1848 he removed to the town of Newmarket, thirty miles north of Toronto and continued there his profession of land surveyor. He died about 1864. The portrait which appears on the opposite page is reproduced from a daguerreotype taken about 1855. During his residence in the Rocky Mountains, among other stirring adventures, he en> countered a grizzly bear, which tore off his scalp, before he was rescued by an Indian. He also carried to his grave the marks of knife wounds received at different times in quarrels with the Indians. His brother-in-law, John Felton, who lived for the latter part of his life near Sherbrooke, Province of Quebec, had been signal midshipman on Nelson's flagship, the Victory, at the battle of Trafalgar, and had been present also at the battle of Copenhagen, for both of which engagements he received medals. At the blockade of Guadalope, West Indies, he was the officer of the watch on board the Curieux, sloop-of-war, when she struck a rock and was wrecked. The court-martial which was held, acted hastily it was felt, in finding that, “though the wreck was caused by circumstances beyond his control, he should be dismissed the service." During the visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada, His Royal Highness, when in Sherbrooke, sent for Felton, and to the great satisfaction of his neighbours and friends received him with the greatest cordiality, and exercised the prerogative delegated by the Queen, by restoring him to the position he had lost.

Alexander, the second son, also entered the service of the North-West Company, but does not appear to have distinguished himself. From George Keith’s despatch to Roderick Mackenzie, from the Mackenzie River Department, we learn of his end. “Sorry I am to add that the late Mr. Alexander Henry with four men and some women and children suffered an untimely and barbarous fate, all having been most cruelly murdered by a strong party of natives of that post (Fort Nelson, Liard River)."

Julia, the third child and only daughter, died unmarried. Of the children of William, the eldest named after his father, nothing is known, but the second son, Charles, preserved the family restlessness of disposition:. He was bornin Montreal in 1832 and taken to Newmarket, when the family removed. In his thirteenth year he ran away from home, making his way to the seaboard, and shipped before the mast in a merchant vessel. Two years after, he joined a whaler, cruising about for four years. The ship “Catherine,” in which he was at the time, was wrecked on the Island of Hawaii, only three of the crew reaching shore, one of whom was Charles, who floated into safety on a hencoop. One of the three commenced almost immediately to fight with the natives and was killed, but the two survivors, after trial before the tribal council, were permitted to stay on the island. They both took native wives, and built themselves huts. At the end of three months the arrival of a vessel in the harbour afforded them an opportunity of escaping, which they did, by stealing a canoe. Charles then joined the American navy, was in service during the Mexican war, and was paid off in 1857. He frequently applied for a pension but was never granted one. He next turns up as a driver of a mule wagon for the American Government at Fort Snelling. In 1862 he returned to Canada and spent the remainder of his days in Barrie, on Lake Simcoe, about sixty miles north of Toronto and some thirty miles north of his old home at Newmarket. He died in June, 1897, in somewhat reduced circumstances Julia, the third child, married B. W. Murray, Esq., accountant of the Supreme Court, Ontario, and resides in Toronto.

Among the most active opponents of the Hudson's Bay Company immediately before the union of the two companies, when the warfare was keenest, we meet with the name of Robert Henry. It occurs in the papers published by Parliament “relating to the Red River settlement.” Among the despatches captured by the Hudson’s Bay Company was one from Robert Henry, dated May 22nd, 1816, addressed to his uncle, Alexander Henry, in which the determination of the employees of the North-West Company to tight their opponents is openly expressed, and the document is quoted by the Hudson’s Bay Company as showing the murderous character of the Canadian traders. This Robert Henry was an adopted nephew who, in 1817, retired from the fur-trade, settling down in the town of Cobourg, on Lake Ontario, where he pursued for many years the business of banking, and died there in 1859, aged 81 years.

In this new edition all the typographical peculiarities of punctuation and capitals have been preserved, so that it is almost a fac-simile of the original. No omissions or alterations have been made in the text. The author’s spelling of proper names has been retained throughout. His notes are indicated by the ordinary symbols, *, f, etc., and the editor’s additional notes by the Arabic numerals. The illustrations of the warehouse occupied by Alexander Henry, which was situated upon the north-west comer of St. Paul and St. Nicholas streets, Montreal, show it as it appeared before its destruction by fire on January 23rd, 1901. The building was originally erected about 1670, by Jean Baptiste Migeon, agent for the West India Company, as a warehouse for furs and goods for the Indian country. Here La Salle received his supplies for his expedition to the Mississippi. In 1780 it was purchased by Henry for the storage of furs, and continued to be occupied for this purpose until its destruction. Its last proprietor was Mr. James Coristine, who says: “It had been much changed in thirty-five years. It was two-storied, with a high cellar and a gabled roof, with large dormer windows, covered with white tin. The entrance on the north side was by way of a turret, with winding stone steps, giving access to the upper stories. The material in the building was of surface stone, unquarried, and it was undoubtedly one of the first buildings erected in Montreal.” The main room on the ground floor, shown in the upper illustration, was of great solidity, the ceiling being nearly six feet thick, and the openings capable of being shut, so as to exclude all the light.

The editor takes this opportunity of expressing his thanks to Mr. A. F. Hunter, Barrie, Ont., for his valuable notes and suggestions; to Mr. W. D. Lighthall, Westmount, Montreal, for photographs; and to Mr. C. C. James, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, for numerous notes.

James Bain.

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