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Some Historical Names and Places of the Canadian Northwest

by Charles N. Bell

MHS Transactions, Series 1, No. 17
Read 12 January 1885

MHS Transactions were originally published by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make online versions available as a free, public service. As an historical document, Transactions may contain language that is no longer in common use and which may offend some readers. They should not be construed to represent the views of today’s Manitoba Historical Society.

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The following paper was read before the Historical and Scientific Society, 22nd Jan., 1885, by Mr. C. N. Bell, F.R.G.S., F.R.C.I.

I have endeavored to bring together some interesting scraps of information relating to the early settlements in our Canadian Northwest and regarding the derivation of well known names.

Let us first turn to Lake Superior, which has been called at different periods Kitch-Game, Upper Lake, Lake Tracy, and Lake Superior. Long, who traded there in 1777, writes that Lake Tracy was so named in honor of M. de Tracy, who was appointed Viceroy of America by the French King, in June, 1665.

Fort William, on Lake Superior, was first established by Daniel Graysolon Du Luth in 1678, as a trading post under the name of Camenistiquoia, or Three Rivers, and was for some years the centre of the fur trade in the then extreme Northwest. It than appears to have been deserted for a length of time, as La Noue rebuilt it in 1717. La Noue had instructions to penetrate into the interior, build a fort at Rainy Lake and collect information to enable him to push on to Lake Winnipeg the following year. It is likely that he did get as far as Rainy Lake, but nothing definite is recorded as to his movements in that direction. Pere Pettitot says Kaministi-Kweya means Wide River. The Northwest Fur Company, which prior to 1803 had its headquarters at Grand Portage, 45 miles south of the Kaministiquia, was compelled by the Americans to abandon that rendezvous and established what was first known as the New Fort at La Noue's old site. Harmon in April, 1804, mentions that a Mr. McLeod left Swan River for the new fort, and in 1807 he writes that the New Fort had been rechristened Fort William, in honor of William McGilvray, the head of the Northwest Company. At the time of giving this name the company made a present to their voyageurs and the Indians encamped about, of spirits, shrub, etc. Fort William has a stirring history. Its annual gatherings of the fur traders and the visit of Lord Selkirk in 1816, at the head of a considerable force of disbanded soldiers, on his way to the colony o£ Assiniboia, have been too often described to need more than mention here.

Pointe de Meuron, across from Fort William settlement, is the site of a Hudson's Bay Company establishment, maintained as a check on Fort William of the Northwest Company.

Following in the track of the fur traders to the interior, we find on the Kaministiquia, the famous Kakabeka Falls or the Fall of the Cleft Rock.

Dog Portage receives its name from an Indian tradition that two enormous dogs having taken a nap on the top of the hill, left the impress of their figures behind them, and certain it is that such figures have been marked on the turf. Sir George Simpson gives this in his book.

Rainy Lake was first known as Tekamamaouen. In 1740 Joseph la France, who travelled through from Lake Superior to Hudson's Bay by way of Lake Winnipeg, relates that Rainy Lake receives its name from a perpendicular waterfall by which the water falls into a river, and raises a mist like rain.

At the point where Rainy River flows from the lake, a post was built in 1731 by the sons of Pierre Gaultier Varennes, the Sieur de la Verendrye, who had arrived there by following the Nantonagon or Pigeon River route. The fort was named St. Pierre.

Verendrye was under orders to explore the interior, and had with him his three sons, his nephew Jeremie and fifty followers.

Near the Rainy Fall, Harmon in 1800 informs us, that the N. W. Co. had a post called Rainy Lake Fort. The portage round the fall was called Chaudiere by Mackenzie, the discoverer of the Mackenzie River.

Immediately below the fall stands the H. B. Co. post, Fort Frances, named after the wife of Sir George Simpson, a governor of the company for over forty years. The village of Alberton has sprung up about old Fort Frances during the last ten years.

Lake of the Woods was the Lac des Bois or Lac Minnittee of the French.

Mr. Keating in 1823 says: "It is called Sakahigan (Sagihagum) Pekwaonga or the Lake of the Island of Sand Mounds, though the Indians do at times call it the Lake of the Woods."

The great mounds of sand on its southeast side evidently gave rise to this edition of the name.

La France in 1740 called it Lac Du Bois or Des Isles.

On a French map dated 1715 it is named Lac des Sioux.

Verendrye's men in 1732 built a post on what is now known as Buffalo Point on the west side of the lake, and bestowed on it the name of Fort St. Charles, after Charles De Beauharnois the Governor of Canada.

A map by Bowen published about 1763 has Fort St. Pierre marked "destroyed;" and St. Charles, "abandoned."

Henry as late as 1775 mentions that there was then the remains of an old French fort on the west side of the lake.

Fired with the hope of finding a route through to the Pacific Ocean, Verendrye descended the Winnipeg River in 1734, bestowing on it the name of Maurepas, in honor of the Minister of France. A fort of the same name was established on the north bank of the river where it enters Lake Winnipeg.

Winnipeg River is called White River by Mackenzie and Harmon, in evident allusion to the succession of falls and rapids which occur along its course. It was also written Sea River by David Thompson, astronomer and surveyor of the Northwest Company, in 1796.

Fort Alexander of the H. B. Co., which now stands on the south side, near Lake Winnipeg, was the site of the Northwest Company's Fort du Bas de la Riviere. In 1800 Harmon writes that the Northwest Company and the H. B. Co. had forts a few rods apart, the H. B. Co. receiving their supplies from Albany House, on Hudson's Bay, via the Albany River route. Thompson says that the Northwest Company's post was in 1796 called Winnipeg House, and owed its origin to the French. It was in N. lat. 50° 37'46". W. long. 95' 59'34'.

Massacre Island, Lake of the Woods, was the scene of the massacre of Verendrye's son, a priest, and twenty soldiers by the Sioux Indians who then frequented the country to the southwest.

Rat Portage derives its name from the fact that the bay which lies along the rocky barrier or portage on its upper side was the resort of great numbers of muskrats, that were constantly "portaging" over into the waters of the Winnipeg river on the other side.

The English River, which joins the Winnipeg on is north side, received its name from the English of the H.B.Co., who brought their supplies up the Albany and across the height of land to the English River, on their way to Fort Alexander.

The Slave Falls (Awakane Pawetik) have connected with them a tradition that a slave of the Chippewas having escaped, secured a canoe, and when pursued, either through design or accident, ran over the falls and was lost.

Lac Bonnet, or Cap Lake, is credited by Mackenzie with getting its name from a custom of the Indians of crowning stones, placed m a circle on the highest rock in the portage, with wreaths of herbage and branches.

The fall now known as the Chute a Jacquot was called by Mackenzie, Jacob's Falls, and by Keating in 1823, Jacks Falls.

Lake Winnipeg has been, at different periods, called Lac Assenipolis, Lac Assinebouels, Lac Assinipoils, Lac Christineaux and Lac Bourbon. Most likely, the Assiniboine Indians who lived at the south and west sides of the lake and on the Assiniboine River, which included under that name that portion of the Red River from the forks, determined the name of the lake.

The Crees, who lived on the Northwest side of the lake were called Kris, Kristineaux, Kinistinoes and Christineaux, and the north end of the lake was first called Christineaux Lac, and this afterwards gave place to Lac Bourbon. The first place I can find that the lake was called anything like Winnipeg is in the memoires of Verendrye, as compiled by Pierre Margry, the present custodian of the archives of the Department of Marine and the Colonies, France, where it is spelled Ouinipigon. Since then the word has undergone many changes in the spelling. I give the word as printed in works from 1734 to 1833, since which last named date there has been no change:

Ouinipigon

Verendrye - 1734

Ouinipique

Dobbs - 1742

Vnipignon

Galissoniere - 1750

Ouinipeg

Bougainvilte - 1757

Ouinipigon

Jefferys - 1760

Ouinipique

French map - 1776

Winnepeck

Carver - 1768

Winipegon

Henry - 1775

Winipic

Mackenzie - 1789

Winipick

Harmon - 1800

Winipic

Pike - 1805

Winipic

Lord Selkirk - 1810

Winiepic

Ross Cox - 1817

Winnipic

School craft - 1820

Winnepeek

Keating - 1823

Winipeg

Beltrami - 1823

Winnipeg

Capt. Back - 1833

The name is derived from the Cree words Win-dirty, and Nepe-water.

I think that it is so called because during certain summer months the water of the lake is tinged with a green color, owing to the presence of a vegetable growth which abounds in parts of the lake. It is a minute needle-shaped organism, about half an inch in length, sometimes detached and sometimes in clusters and at times the water is almost as thick as pea soup. It is also to be found abundantly in the Lake of the Woods.

On a French map dated between 1695 and 1719 the lake appears divided into two parts, the southern being Lac des Assinipoualac and the northern Lac des Christineaux. On another map of DeLisle the whole lake is marked Asselepolis.

It is claimed that Radisson and Grosselliers, two Frenchmen who afterwards gave information to the English that led to the formation of the H. B. Co. in 1670, traveled through the country of the Asiniboines and visited Winnipeg or Assinipoulac about 1660. While there seems to be no doubt that these men were for a considerable length of time about the west side of Lake Superior and that the Pigeon River was then, and long afterwards, called Grossilliers' River, there is very little definite information regarding the parts of the Assiniboine country visited by them in 1660. In the New York history of the Colonies this passage is found "Meeting afterwards with some Indians on Lake Assiniboins, to the west of Lake Superior, he (Gossilliers) was conducted by them to James' Bay where the English had not yet been." The Assiniboines are said to have gone east to trade as far as Sault St. Marie, and the Indians mentioned may have been from Lake Winnipeg and Grossilliers was credited with having been there, from that fact.

It is seen therefore that the existence and situation of Lake Winnipeg was well known as far back, at least, as 1660, and Franquelins map, dated 1688, proves that at that date a river was known to run north from Red Lake to Lac des Assinebouels, out of which the Bourbon or Nelson River issued on its way to Hudson's Bay.

In 1749 the H. B. Co. produced before a committee of the British House of Commons the journal of an employee named Henry Kellsey, dated July and August 1692, which seems to show clearly that he was at Lake Winnipeg on an exploring trip made in the interests of the H. B. Co., and with the object of inducing the Indians of the interior to take their furs down to the posts on Hudson's Bay. The journal is printed in detail in the above report which I have in my possession.

On maps published about 1740, from information supplied by Jeremie the nephew of Verendrye, by Jeffrys, London, in 1762, and Mr. Bonne, of Paris in 1776, the Bulls Head and Deer Island are shown and properly placed, so that these are not modern names.

Elk Island near the mouth of the Winnipeg River is shown on a map dated about 1740. This map also shows in Lake Winnipeg an island named Iron (Fer), and it would seem that Verendrye's men had, during their first year on the lake, about 1735, discovered the iron deposits on Big Island, which now promise to supply our wants in this country. Isle Fer is plotted just where Big Island is situated.

Red Deer and Sandy Islands are mentioned in La France's journal of 1740. MacKenzie in 1801 locates and names St. Martin's Bay, Dog Head, Long Point, Egg Islands, Playgreen Lake and Poplar River. What is now known as Buffalo Head was by MacKenzie called Ox Head and Ox Strait. These names have not undergone any change since the end of the last century.

Norway House at the north end of Lake Winnipeg was established after 1799.

The Red River, by the French called Riviere Rouge and by the Indians Miscoussipi, was likely ascended for the first time by white men when Verendrye's people in 1736-7 pushed half way up its course and established Fort Pointe des Bois, some distance south of what is now the International Boundary Line; and when in 1738 they went up the Assiniboine to the present site of Portage la Prairie, and on the north bank in October of that year established a trading post, which they named Fort La Reine.

La France in 1740 writes that the Red River flows from red Lake, so called from the color of its sand.

Another writer states that it gets the name from the color of the water when agitated by winds.

Beltrami in 1823 says that the Red Lake district was a long time the meeting ground of the Chippeways and Sioux, and from their bloody battles on its shores the name is derived.

I am strongly of the opinion that whatever its origin the Indians had so named Red River before Verendrye was in the country, as Jeremie gave it the name of Rouge or Miscoussipi.

The first Hudson's Bay Co. fort on the Red River was established likely in 1799, at the mouth if the Assiniboine on the north side, and was called The Forks. The present Fort Garry was built in 1835-36, by Mr. Christie, of the Hudson's Bay Company.

Fort Douglas was erected in 1812 by Miles McDonnell, in charge of the first Selkirk settlers, who arrived by way of Hudson Bay. It was on the bank of the Red river on the north side of a coulee which entered the river, just below where Mayor Logan's house now stands.

Point Douglas received its name from the fort, which derived its name from the family name of Selkirk -- Douglas.

Fort Gibraltar of the N. W. Co. was situated on the Assiniboine, near the site of the H. B. Co.'s present mill. After the coalition of the two companies the general stores of the new H. B. Co. were opened in Fort Gibraltar.

It is generally believed that a post or fort of some description was established by Verendrye, with the name of Fort Rouge, and that it was situated on the south side of the Assiniboine River, in the angle formed by its junction with the Red, but little definite information is to be obtained as to its importance or the length of time it-was maintained. Verendrye is supposed to have been up the Red River in 1736 or 1737 for the first time, and yet on a map drawn by him and forwarded to Paris, from Quebec, by Beauharnois on the 14th October, 1737, the Assiniboine is only traced a few miles up its course, and at its mouth on the south side, is shown a fort marked "abandoned." From this it would appear that Fort Rouge had a very short existence.

A French map of 1700, the original of which was sent to France by Gallissoniere, Governor of Canada, showing Verendrye's discoveries, has the words "Ancien Fort" at the point on which Fort Rouge is supposed to have been.

Jeffey's geographical work (London, 1760) describes the French posts in the Northwest, and mentions forts Maurepas and La Reine with the remark, "Another fort had been built on the River Rouge, but it was deserted on account of its vicinity to the two last."

A list of the French forts, given by Bougainville in 1757, does not contain Fort Rouge, though Maurepas and La reine are described and their positions defined.

I can find nothing in Margry's account of the discoveries of Verendrye which alludes to Fort Rouge, and as he has access to all the colonial papers of the French it seems strange that he should omit mention of it if any fort of even slight importance was established by Verendrye. I am here referring to Mon. Margry's writings as reproduced in the N. W. boundary papers.

Fort des Bois was established in 1736 or 1737 about Goose River. Jeffry's map of 1762 shows the post as still in existence, though Jeffry must have copied copied it from some French map which was likely of earlier date. The English gained possession of Canada in 1763, so that Jeffry must have got his information from French sources.

Henry writes under date of 14th September, 1507: "From Paubian I sent off a boat for above, Will. Henry master, with T. Veaudrie interpreter, and seven men, to build at the Grand Fourche." This was the beginning of the city of Grand Forks, a place of importance at this date.

Pembina comes from Nipi-Mina, a Cree word for a red berry which grows in great quantities along the banks of the Pembina River. Pere Petitot says the berry is the fruit of aguelder rose (viburnum edule). A trading post, was built by a Mr. Chabollier, of the N. W. Co., in 1797, on the south side of Pembina Creek at the point where it empties into the Red River. It was called Paubna, and I am told that this word is still used by some of the old Selkirk settlers instead of Pembina.

Henry, in 1800, writes that Fort Paubna was on a stream named Paubian, and that opposite the mouth of the Paubian, the east side of the Red River (about the present site of St. Vincent) there is still to be seen the remains of an old fort built by Peter Grant some years previously. He takes particular care to state that Grant's post was the first establishment ever built on the Red River. (He may refer to the first establishment of the N. W. Co ?) Fort Daer was situated on the north side of the Pembina River. It was a post of the H. B. Co., named after Lord Selkirk, who was also Baron Daer. It was here that some of the settlers passed the winter of 1812-13, and suffered untold hardships from cold and want of food. It was built by the settlers in the fall of 1812.

There is considerable difficulty in identifying some of the tributaries of the Upper Red River, owing to the different names given them at various As an instance, the Wildrice River has been known as Pse. (Sioux), Menomone (Chippeway), and Folle Avoine (French).

Coming down the Red River again, I find the Rosseau has been so called since at least 1798 the Reedgrass. In 1823 Keating gives it the same name, and says the Indians called it Pekwionusk. As Rosseau is the French word for Reedgrass, it is seen that this name has held to the stream since the N. W. Co.'s traders first visited it.

I find the Scratching and Stinking rivers mentioned as far back as 1815. The Seine River, which falls into the red opposite this city, was known as the German Creek after 1817, on account of the Germans of the De Meuron regiment, brought here by Lord Selkirk.

Kildonan Parish was named in 1817 Lord Selkirk himself, from the set -- old home in Sutherlandshire, Scotland.

Lower Fort Garry was enclosed by loop-holed walls and bastions in 1841, as by Sir George Simpson in his book. It was built, as far as the houses are concerned between 1831 and 1833. History is the authority for the statement that Sir Geo. Simpson had it built because the French half-breeds at Upper Fort Garry were troublesome.

The Death River (Nipuwin-sipi), which enters the Red River on the west side below Selkirk, was so named because 250 lodges of Chippeways were destroyed there by the Sioux Indians about 1780. The N. W. Co. had a post there at the time of the consolidation with the H. B. Co.

The word Assiniboine is derived from Assine-a stone, and Bwan or Boine, an Indian; or properly, Sioux Indian. The Assiniboines were originally a branch of the Dacota or Sioux confederacy, but they separated and lived by themselves, inhabiting the country along the Assiniboine river. They received the name of Stone Indians from using heated stones to cook their food. I find them called Semi-Poets by the people of the H. B. Co. in 1749. Verendrye gave the name of St. Charles to the river in 1738, in honor of Charles Beauharnois, Governor of Canada. Mackenzie says the river is called Assiniboine from the Nadawasis or Sioux. In Selkirk's statement the name of the river is spelled Ossiniboyne, and the District Ossiniboia.

Lt. Chappel, a naval officer, who was in Hudson's Bay in 1814, writes as follows: "The infant colony is called by his Lordship (Selkirk) Osna Boia, two Gaelic words signifying Ossian's town, from the resemblance between that and the Indian name of Red river - Asnaboyne." I do not find, however, that he tried to prove that the Assiniboines were originally Scotchmen.

At Portage la Prairie on the right bank of the river Verendrye established Fort La Reine, which became the basis of operations in the work of pushing the line of trading posts through to the Saskatchewan by way of Lake Manitoba. The fort was burned by the Crees about 1752. In 1805 Harmon visited the N. W. Co.'s post at that point, and he describes it as a miserable fort, in a most beautiful location. He mentions that the Indians resorted to the place in quest of sturgeon. During the Selkirk troubles in 1816 the employes of the N. W. Co. having captured 600 bags of pemmican from the H. B. Co. at Qu'Appelle, made a redoubt of them here and armed it with 2 brass swivel guns.

At Pine Creek the N. W. Co. built a fort in 1785, which was abandoned in 1794. The remains were seen by Harmon in 1805.

The Souris River was called, the River St. Pierre by Verendrye in 1738, and his men ascended it to cross over to the Missouri, and thence to the Rocky Mountains. No less than three forts were at the Souris mouth in 1805. Brandon House of the H. B. Co., built 1794; Assiniboine House of the N. W. Co., situated about one and a half miles above, and which was in full operation when Thompson visited it in 1797; and Fort Souris, a past of the X. Y. Co. The N. W. Co. had also a trading post 45 miles up the Souris in 1797, named Ash House.

About 50 miles above the Souris mouth in 1804 there was an important post of the N. W. Co. -- Fort Montagne a la Basse. Harmon says it was from here that he received word that Lewis and Clark, the explorers, were on their way to the Rocky Mountains. The Indians about this post were very troublesome, and on April 10th, 1805, a large party of Crees and Assiniboines encamped about the fort and threatened the traders, throwing bullets over the palisades, while shouting to the people to pick them up as they would need them in a few days, but they did not finally attack it. The fort was on a high bank of the Assiniboine (called Upper Red River by Harmon), and overlooked the plain around to a great extent. Buffalo and antelopes were to be seen frequently from the fort. On our late maps may be found a Boss Creek and Boss Hill in this locality, and no doubt Basse has given place to Boss, as an English pronunciation of a French word.

In October, 1804, Harmon was at the mouth of the Qu'Appelle, where the N. W. Co. and X. Y. Co. had each a fort, the first being in charge of a Monsieur Poitras. Up the Qu' Appelle at the Fishing Lakes, both companies had posts, which were abandoned in 1804.

Far up the Assiniboine Fort Alexandria was built on a small rise of ground, with a plain about ten miles long and two broad stretching along the ricer opposite, and having a background of clumps of birch, poplar, aspen and pine. The enclosure was sixteen rods in length by twelve in breadth. The houses were well built, plastered within and without, and washed over with a white earth. It was situated in north latitude 52°, west longitude 103°.

In June, 1801, the fort was prepared for an attack of the Fall River or Gros Ventre Indians. It was strengthened; block houses built over the gates and the bastions put in order, the Crees and Assiniboines having gone to attack the Gros Ventres, and a return visit was expected.

Many trading posts were supplied from this fort, which, until the last year it was occupied, received its supplies from Lake Superior, via Lakes Manitoba, Winnipegoosis and Swan Lake. It was abandoned 28th April, 1805. Word was received here only is February, 1805, that a coalition had taken place in Montreal the previous autumn between the N. W. and X. Y. Companies.

The X. Y. Co. and the H. B. Co. had a number of small posts between Swan Lake and the Assiniboine. One fort was at Bird Mountain, another at Swan Lake which Harmon says was near the site of a post of the H. B. Co., abandoned several years previous to 1800. A number of trading houses of the different companies were scattered along the Assiniboine from Brandon up to the head waters. Mackenzies map of 1801 showing Thornburne House, Grant's House, Marlboro House and Carlton House at different points above Brandon. Dog Hill, Moose River and Turtle Hills are mentioned by Thompson 1797, and still retain these names. Arrowsmith's map of 1857 shows Birdstail Fort at the mouth of that little stream, near Fort Ellis, and Fort Hibernia on the head waters of the Assiniboine above Fort Pelly. Fort Ellis has been called Beaver Creek Fort, as the post is situated near Beaver Creek, a mile or two below the mouth of the Qu'Appelle. There is no doubt that the remarkable echo noticed by all who have been in the valley of the lower Qu'Appelle has given rise to that river's name. The Earl of Southesk writes that there is a tradition that an Indian paddling his canoe down the river heard a loud voice calling to him, and that after he had searched for the person whom he supposed had called to him, lie again was saluted with a loud noise. He informed his Indian friends of this strange occurrence and they ever afterwards bestowed on it the name of "Who Calls."

Fort Ellis likely takes it name from the Hon. Edward Ellis, who was chiefly instrumental in bringing the H. B. Co. and the N. W. Co. into one corporate body.

There is a tradition amongst the French half-breeds that the White Horse Plain, about fifteen miles up the Assiniboine from Winnipeg, receives its name from a white horse which roamed around a that district many years ago, and which could not be approached, though many persons had endeavored to capture him.

I received this tradition from a French trader some years ago when traveling in the Saskatchewan country, but cannot vouch for its authenticity.

Sturgeon Creek evidently gets its name from the presence of sturgeon. Harmon in 1805 writes that the Assiniboine River being very low and they having a number of boats and canoes, the brigade drove the sturgeon upon the sand banks, where there is little water near Pine Creek, and had difficulty in killing any number of them they desired.

Harmon (1805) in describing the Forks where the Upper and Lower Red River formed a junction, i.e. the Assiniboine and Red River, mentions that, "the country around is pleasant, the soil appears to be excellent, and it is tolerably well timbered with oak, basswood, walnut, elm, poplar, aspen, birch, etc. Grape vines and plum trees are also seen."

The Sand Hills near Melbourne Station on the C. P. R. were known by the Indians as the Manitou Hills, from the fact that the grass covering them, in places was so scant, that they retained no snow during the winter; which phenomenon the Indians regarded as preternatural and fixed that idea in the name. This is on the authority of Thompson of the N. W. Co.

Lake Manitoba was in 1740 called Lac des Prairies and later on Lake of the Meadows. The word Manitoba is said by Pere Lacombe, an excellent authority in the Cree language, to be derived from Manitowapaw, supernatural or god-like. Other authorities say it means "the place where the spirit dwells," alluding to the narrows of Lake Manitoba, where the water seldom, if ever, freezes over, owing to the presence of springs or its rapid motion at that point.

Verendrye, about 1739, leaving Fort La Reine pushed up through Lake Manitoba established Fort Dauphin on the lake and Fort Bourbon on the Saskatchewan near its mouth.

Winnipegosis means little Winnipeg. Saskatchewan (contraction of Kisiskatchewan) was called by the French Poskoyac or Pasquayah. Henry, in 1776, says the lower part of the river was called Bourbon and the upper Pasquayah. Fort Poscoiac, on Sturgeon Lake, was built before 1775. Bougainville, under that date, gives its situation.

Cumberland House, on Sturgeon Lake, was established by Samuel Hearne as a H. B. Co. post in 1774, and was the first trading house of that company on the waters flowing into Lake Winnipeg. The N. W. Co. had a post there in 1806, according to Henry.

Fort des Prairies farther up the river was in use by the French prior to 1757, when Bougainville describes it. A Mr. Cadotte of Sault St. Marie traded there in 1775 and the place seems to have been frequented for many years after that, as Harmon in 1805 still mentioned it as a N. W. Co's port of considerable importance. Henry says in 1775, that four different interests were struggling for the Indian trade. Fort de la Corne has been known at different dates as Fort St. Louis and Nippeween. Fort de la Corne was built in 1753 by Mon. de la Corne who commanded all the posts in the Interior. Henry says Fort St. Louis of the N. W. Co. was a short distance above the old French fort, and it was abandoned in 1805. He says that some years before agricultural implements and carriage wheels were found there. Mackenzie writes that James Findlay was there about 1769, and it was then the last of the French settlements being called Nipawee. Nepiwa, means "wet place."

Hudson House between Carlton and the Forks, with Carlton and Manchester Houses farther up on the North Branch were established about 1797, Edmonton about 1795, and Fort Pitt 1831.

Fort Providence on the island near the forks, and Sturgeon Fort just above Providence, the sites of which were visited by Henry in 1808; Net Setting River Fort where Henry found, in 1808, the remains of a whole range of forts, were trading houses below Carlton.

The fort which was at the Eagle Hill Creek was burned by the Crees in 1780 after a fight, and Henry found it a heap of ruins in 1800.

Fort Brule, which was the scene of an attack in 1793 by the Gros Ventres Indians, when they burned the H. B. Co. post, but were beaten off from the N. W. Co.'s house, was situated about the Battle River.

Fort Vermillion, of the N. W. Co., in 1809 had within its walls 36 men, 27 women and 67 children. It was situated in a bottom land directly opposite the Vermillion River. The H. B. Co. had a post at this place in 1808, in charge of Hallette and Longmore. Henry mentions the interchange of visits between the establishments.

Fort George, in ruins in 1809, was on the north side of the Saskatchewan, above the Moose River, which flows from the hills of the same name.

Fort Augustus was a three days' journey above Vermillion, and here there was also a post of the H. B. Co. in 1808. Henry describes the visit of a hundred Blood Indians to trade at the two forts. From the description given it would appear that this place was where Edmonton now stands, though I cannot find in Henry any names given to the forts of the H. B. Co.

In 1820-21 the H. B. Co. had only the following stations on the Saskatchewan River: Edmonton, Carlton and Cumberland. The N. W. Co. had Augustus, Rocky Mountain House and Cumberland.

South Branch House was about 15 miles across by land from the North Branch, and 120 miles above the Forks, as described by Harmon. It was first established in 1791 by the H. B. Co., but in 1794 the Gros Ventres destroyed the H. B. Co. fort and attacked the post of the N. W. Co. at the same point, but were driven off with loss. New forts were built in 1804, six miles above the old site.

The French in 1752 ascended the Saskatchewan, likely the South Branch, and built Fort Jonquiere at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, but the post was not maintained. It is supposed to have been about the site of Calvary.

The Bow River is said to take its name from the wood found on portions of its banks which was suitable for the manufacture of bows. It is more likely that it derives its name from the curve taken by the river in its course.

Belly River was so named from the Gros Ventres Indians who lived in that locality.

Elbow River gets its name from its shape.

Battle River is said by Bishop Tache to have been the scene of many a contest between the Crees and Blackfeet, and takes the name in consequence.

Chesterfield House was established by the Hudson's Bay Co. in 1822, at the Forks of the Red Deer and South Branch but it was deserted after a few years, as the Blackfeet attacked the traders on several occasions and killed a number of them.

Page revised: 23 May 2011

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