Tag Archives: Fur trade

Brûlé Lake

Alberta. Lake: Athabasca River drainage
Widening of Athabasca River north of Jasper
53.2833 N 117.85 W — Map 083F05 — GoogleGeoHack
Name officially adopted in 1944
Official in Canada
This lake appears on:
Milton and Cheadle’s map 1865

Appears as “Burnt L” on Milton and Cheadle’s map.

In 1813 the North West Company established a post on Brûlé Lake as a “provision depot with the view of facilitating the passage of the mountains through Athabasca Pass.”

Also see:

Jasper House

Alberta. Former railway point
34 km NE of Jasper on Canadian National Railway
53°8’18” N 117°58’50” W — Map 083F04 — GoogleGeoHack
Not currently an official name.
40 miles east of the Yellowhead Pass on the Canadian National Railway
This former railway point appears on:
Grand Trunk Pacific ticket 1914

Mackenzie River

Alberta. River: Mackenzie River drainage
Flows northwest from Great Slave Lake into the Arctic Ocean
69°15’0″ N 134°8’10” W — Map 107C07 — GoogleGeoHack
Name officially adopted in 1982
Official in Canada

Alexander Mackenzie [1764–1820] was the first of the European invaders to cross North America north of Mexico. In 1793 the North West Company of Montréal approved Mackenzie’s plan to search for a route to the Pacific Ocean to facilitate the fur trade. Starting in northern Alberta, Mackenzie led a company up the Peace River. They crossed from the Arctic watershed to the Pacific over an unnamed pass that led into the Fraser River, which Mackenzie assumed to be the Columbia, the Fraser then but little known. South of the big bend in the Fraser, the party headed west over land and reached salt water. Mackenzie concluded that the route was impractical.

“Mackenzie River / Fleuve Mackenzie” is among the 75 “Pan-Canadian names,” large and well-known Canadian features and areas designated in Treasury Board Circular 1983-58 to require presentation in both official languages of Canada on federal maps. In French, a fleuve is a river that flows into an ocean or sea.

Henry House

Alberta. Former locality and railway point
Approximately 12 km north of Jasper
52.9867 N 118.0628 W — Map 083D16 — GoogleGeoHack
Name officially adopted in 1951
Official in Canada
19 miles east of the Yellowhead Pass on the Canadian National Railway
Grand Trunk Pacific Railway station built in 1911. Abandoned on grade in 1917. Turned over to Department of the Interior (Parks) circa 1923.

Appears on a Grand Trunk Pacific Railway train ticket, June 30, 1914, between Interlaken and Fitzhugh.

“Henry’s House” or “William Henry’s Old House” was a minor trading post near Athabasca Pass in Canada. In 1811, while David Thompson was making his way over the Athabasca Pass, William Henry, the eldest son of Alexander Henry, provided support on the eastern side of the mountains. He a built a post on the Athabasca River near the mouth of the Miette River, where the trail from the passes reached the head of navigation. At this point travellers coming over the mountains transferred from horses to canoes for the journey down river.

The normal route over the mountains was from Jasper House on the Athabasca River 120 miles west to Boat Encampment on the Columbia River. To save time one could take a light (non-freight) 50 miles more up the Athabasca River to Henry’s House and cross the mountains from there. George Simpson (administrator) and John McLoughlin used this route in 1824.

William Henry (1783?-1846?) was a fur trader in the service of the North West Company, and it was after him that this trading post and later locality was named in 1912.

References:

  • Karamitsanis, Aphrodite. Place names of Alberta. Volume 1: Mountains, Mountain Parks and Foothills. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1991
  • Bohi, Charles W., and Kozma, Leslie S. Canadian National’s Western Stations. Don Mills, Ontario: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2002
  • Wikipedia. Henry House

Jasper House National Historic Site of Canada

Alberta. National Historic Site: Athabasca River drainage
Foot of Jasper Lake on Athabasca River
53°8’18” N 117°58’50” W — Map 083F04 — GoogleGeoHack
Name officially adopted in 2001
Official in Canada

Jasper House National Historic Site is the site of a fur trading post on the Athabasca River that functioned in two different locations from 1813 to 1884 as a major staging and supply post for travel through the Canadian Rockies.

The post was originally named Rocky Mountain House, but was renamed to avoid confusion with the Rocky Mountain House trading post on the North Saskatchewan River, becoming “Jasper’s House” after the postmaster, Jasper Hawes, who operated the post from 1814 to 1817. The first location is believed to have been at the outlet of Brûlé Lake, downstream from the present site. The second Jasper House was established at the northern end of Jasper Lake in 1830, primarily serving travellers crossing Yellowhead Pass or Athabasca Pass.

The site operated until 1853, and was occasionally used until 1858 when it was reopened seasonally by Henry John Moberly, who operated it into the 1860s. The post was officially closed in 1884 after years of inactivity. From 1891 or 1892 to 1894 the house was used by miner Lewis Swift. The building was destroyed in 1909 when its lumber was used to make a raft by surveyors for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. Apart from a small cemetery, no significant ruins remain. It was designated a national historic site in 1924, and is marked by a commemorative stone and plaque.

References:

Cowdung Lake

British Columbia. Former unofficial name: Fraser River drainage
Yellowhead Lake
52.8667 N 118.5333 W GoogleGeoHack
Earliest known reference to this name is 1871 (Trutch)
Not currently an official name.
This former unofficial name appears on:
Milton and Cheadle’s map 1865
Trutch’s map of BC 1871
Detail of Trutch 1871 showing “Cowdung L.”

Detail of Trutch 1871 showing “Cowdung L.”

The name “Cowdung L.” appears on B.C. Surveyor General Joseph Trutch’s 1871 map of British Columbia, between Moose Lake and the Yellowhead or Leather Pass.

The name appeared as “Cow dung L.” on John Arrowsmith’s 1859 map.

References:

  • Trutch, Joseph William [1826–1904]. Map of British Columbia to the 56th Parallel North Latitude. Victoria, B.C.: Lands and Works Office, 1871. University of Victoria
  • British Columbia Geographical Names. Yellowhead Lake

Yellowhead Pass

Alberta-BC boundary. Pass
Fraser and Athabasca drainages
NE of Yellowhead Lake
52°53’33” N 118°27’50” W — Map 83D/16 — GoogleGeoHack
Earliest known reference to this name is 1859 (Arrowsmith)
Name officially adopted in 1951
Official in BCCanada
The Yellowhead Pass. Sir Sandford Fleming, based on an expedition in 1872

The Yellowhead Pass. Sir Sandford Fleming, based on an expedition in 1872
Alpine Club of Canada


On the Yellowhead Pass.
Photo: Mary Schaffer, 1908

On the Yellowhead Pass.
Photo: Mary Schaffer, 1908
Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies


Sunset on the Yellow Head Pass. 
Photo: Dr. J. Norman Collie, 1910

Sunset on the Yellow Head Pass.
Photo: Dr. J. Norman Collie, 1910
Alpine Journal 1912


Monument placed at summit of Yellowhead Pass.
Photo: A. 0. Wheeler, 1911

Monument placed at summit of Yellowhead Pass.
Photo: A. 0. Wheeler, 1911
Canadian Alpine Journal 1912

“Tête Jaune Cache is some fifty miles down on the west side from the summit of Yellowhead Pass, not far from the junction of the North or Grand fork with the southerly branch of Fraser River. It was so named from the fact that an Iroquois trapper known as “Tête Jaune” or “Yellow Head,” made this cache the receptacle for his catch of fur. He seems to have been a man of some celebrity in the neighborhood for, presumably, the pass has been named after him.”
— Arthur Wheeler

Tête Jaune” was the nickname of Pierre Bostonais (d. 1827), a guide of Iroquois extraction who worked for the North West Company and Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1825, he guided the first party recorded to cross the pass. From 1826 until the 1850s, the pass was occasionally used by the Hudson’s Bay Company to transport leather from the Saskatchewan District to New Caledonia. Despite its low elevation — at 1,131 metres second only to the Monkman Pass in the Canadian Rockies — and its mildly inclined approaches, it was used only sporadically during the fur trade. The route over the Yellowhead Pass stretched, without intervening posts, for more than 400 miles between Jasper House, on the Athabasca River, to Fort George, on the Fraser. “The lengthy and uninterrupted isolation imposed on the brigades along the route, the unreliable navigability of the Athabasca and Fraser rivers, and the unpredictable weather of the usual mid-autumn journey presented problems,” according to historian David Smythe.

“It was also used to some extent by the Rocky Mountain Indians of the Shuswap tribe on the journey from Kamloops via Thompson River to Athabasca River at Jasper House, where, presumably, they carried on trade with the fur company,” according to Arthur Oliver Wheeler, who surveyed the pass in 1917 for the commission appointed to delimit the boundary between the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.

The fur traders who used this pass in the first half of the nineteenth century never called it, or any other mountain pass, a pass. They called it a portage. Infrequently called the New Caledonia portage in the letters and journals of the period, the Yellowhead Pass was almost exclusively referred to as the route or portage via Tête Jaune Cache. On a few occasions in the 1820s, the officer in charge of New Caledonia referred to the route as “the Leather track,” encompassing the entire distance between Fort George and Jasper House. After 1860, the pass was also briefly known as the Cowdung Pass, after an early name of Yellowhead Lake. It was also referred to at various times as Leatherhead Pass, Jasper and Jasper House Pass, Tête Jaune and Tête Jaune Cache Pass, Myette Pass, and even the Rocky Mountain Pass. The actual name “Yellowhead” appears to have first been used on the Arrowsmith 1859 map.

Sir Sandford Fleming crossed the pass in 1872, reconnoitering a route for the Canadian Pacific Railway:

A few minutes afterwards the sound of a rivulet running in the opposite direction over a red pebbly bottom was heard. Thus we left the Myette flowing to the Arctic ocean, and now came upon this, the source of the Fraser, hurrying to the Pacific. At the summit Moberly welcomed us into British Columbia, for we were at length out of “No man’s land,” and had entered the western province of our Dominion [B.C. became a Canadian province in 1871]. Round the rivulet running west the party gathered and drank from its waters to the Queen and the Dominion. Where had been little or no frost near the summit, and flowers were in bloom that we had seen a month ago farther east. Before encamping for the night we continued our journey some twenty-six miles farther into British Columbia, well satisfied that no incline could be more gentle than the trail we had followed to the Pacific slope through the Yellow Head pass.

“It was originally selected as the route of the Canadian Pacific Railway but was later abandoned,” Wheeler noted. “Now it is crossed by two other transcontinental lines of the Canadian National Railways.”

References:

  • Arrowsmith, John [1790–1873]. Provinces of British Columbia and Vancouver Island; with portions of the United States and Hudson’s Bay Territories. 1859. UVic
  • Trutch, Joseph William [1826–1904]. Map of British Columbia to the 56th Parallel North Latitude. Victoria, B.C.: Lands and Works Office, 1871. University of Victoria
  • McEvoy, James [1862–1935]. “Map Showing Yellowhead Pass Route From Edmonton To Tête-Jaune Cache.” (1900). Natural Resources Canada
  • Fleming, Sandford [1827–1915]. “Memories of the Mountains: The Yellow Head Pass.” Canadian Alpine Journal, Vol. 1 (1907):11. Alpine Club of Canada
  • Schäffer Warren, Mary T. S. [1861–1939]. Old Indian trails. Incidents of camp and trail life, covering two years’ exploration through the Rocky Mountains of Canada. [1907 and 1908]. New York: Putnam, 1911, p. 339. Internet Archive
  • Wheeler, Arthur Oliver [1860–1945]. “The Alpine Club of Canada’s expedition to Jasper Park, Yellowhead Pass and Mount Robson region, 1911.” Canadian Alpine Journal, Vol. 4 (1912):9-80. Alpine Club of Canada
  • Collie, John Norman [1859–1942]. “On the Canadian Rocky Mountains north of the Yellowhead Pass.” Alpine Journal, Vol. 26 (1912):5-17
  • Wheeler, Arthur Oliver [1860–1945], and Cautley, Richard William [1873–1953]. Report of the Commission appointed to delimit the boundary between the Provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Part II. 1917 to 1921. From Kicking Horse Pass to Yellowhead Pass.. Ottawa: Office of the Surveyor General, 1924. Whyte Museum
  • Smyth, David. “Some fur trade place names of the Yellowhead Pass: west of the summit to Tête Jaune Cache.” Canoma (journal of the Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names), Vol. 11, No. 2 (1985)

Moose Lake

British Columbia. Lake: Fraser River drainage
Expansion of Fraser River, Mount Robson Park
52°57’00” N 118°55’00” W — Map 83D/15 — GoogleGeoHack
Earliest known reference to this name is 1824 (Simpson).
Name officially adopted in 1933
Official in BCCanada
Moose Lake. Photo: Mary Schäffer, 1908

Moose Lake. Photo: Mary Schäffer, 1908
Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Among the 180 or so Moose Lakes in Canada, the Moose Lake in Mount Robson Park was mentioned by Hudson’s Bay Company governor George Simpson in 1824 when, “to draw the Freemen further into the Mountain than they had been in the habit of going,” he proposed to establish a winter fur trading post at “Moose or Cranberry Lake.” In the fall of that year, chief trader Joseph Felix LaRocque set out to establish the post as a replacement for the post at Smoky River, but was stopped by ice in the Athabasca River and built a post above Jasper House. No establishment was ever built at Moose Lake.

“Orignal” is Canadian French for “moose. ” On John Arrowsmith’s 1859 map of British Columbia, Moose Lake appears as “Lac L’Original” [sic].

Milton and Cheadle passed by the lake in 1863:

Moose Lake is a fine sheet of water, about 15 miles in length, and not more than three miles in breadth at the widest point, The scenery was very wild and grand, and forcibly reminded us of Wast Water. On the south side, the hills rose perpendicularly out of the water for perhaps 2,000 feet, beyond which was the usual background of rocky and hoary peaks. Over the edge of this mighty precipice a row of silver streams poured with unbroken fall, the smaller ones dissipated in mist and spray ere they reached the lake below.

“Moose L.” appears on British Columbia Surveyor General Joseph Trutch’s 1871 map of British Columbia.

References:

  • Simpson, George [1792–1860]. Fur trade and empire. George Simpson’s journal entitled Remarks connected with fur trade in consequence of a voyage from York Factory to Fort George and back to York Factory 1824-25. Frederick Merk, editor. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1931. University of British Columbia Library
  • McMillan, James. Winnipeg: Hudson’s Bay Company archives. Portion of letter James McMillan to William Connelly HBCA B.188/b/4 fo. 9-10 (1825).
  • Arrowsmith, John [1790–1873]. Provinces of British Columbia and Vancouver Island; with portions of the United States and Hudson’s Bay Territories. 1859. UVic
  • Milton, William Wentworth Fitzwilliam [1839–1877], and Cheadle, Walter Butler [1835–1910]. The North-West Passage by Land. Being the narrative of an expedition from the Atlantic to the Pacific, undertaken with the view of exploring a route across the continent to British Columbia through British territory, by one of the northern passes in the Rocky Mountains. London: Cassell, Petter and Galpin, 1865. Internet Archive
  • Trutch, Joseph William [1826–1904]. Map of British Columbia to the 56th Parallel North Latitude. Victoria, B.C.: Lands and Works Office, 1871. University of Victoria
  • McEvoy, James [1862–1935]. “Map Showing Yellowhead Pass Route From Edmonton To Tête-Jaune Cache.” (1900). Natural Resources Canada
  • Schäffer Warren, Mary T. S. [1861–1939]. Old Indian trails. Incidents of camp and trail life, covering two years’ exploration through the Rocky Mountains of Canada. [1907 and 1908]. New York: Putnam, 1911, p. 339. Internet Archive
  • Smyth, David. “Some fur trade place names of the Yellowhead Pass: west of the summit to Tête Jaune Cache.” Canoma (journal of the Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names), Vol. 11, No. 2 (1985)

McGillivray Ridge

Alberta-BC boundary. Ridge
Alta-BC boundary, N of Athabasca Pass
52°23’34” N 118°10’37” W — Map 083D08 — GoogleGeoHack
Earliest known reference to this name is 1812.
Name officially adopted in 1924
Official in BCCanada
William McGillivray

William McGillivray

Gabriele Franchère, who travelled through the pass with the North West Company’s brigade in 1814, wrote, “Mr J. Henry, who first discovered the pass, gave this extraordinary rock the name of M’Gillivray’s Rock, in honor of one of the partners of the N. W. Company.”

William McGillivray (1764?-1825) , elder brother of Simon McGillivray and uncle of Duncan McGillivray, was one of the leading members of the North West Company. He was a member of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada, 1808-09, for Montreal West, and of the Legislative Council of Lower Canada, 1811-25. He died in 1825 in London, England.

McGillivray was born in Scotland and brought to Montreal in 1784 by his uncle Simon McTavish of McTavish, Frobisher and Company. McGillivray was made a partner in the North West Company in 1790, and on McTavish’s death in 1804 McGillivray became the company’s chief director. Fort William, the company’s headquarters on Lake Superior, was named in his honor in 1807. McGillivray commanded a company of voyageurs in the War of 1812, assisting Issac Brock at the capture of Detroit. In recognition of these services he was appointed to the legislative council of Lower Canada in 1814. Between 1814 and 1816 he directed the North West Company’s opposition to the Red River Settlement and was captured when Lord Selkirk seized Fort William in 1816 as a reprisal for the destruction of the settlement. McGillivray emerged unscathed from the protracted legal proceedings that followed. He was associated with his brother Simon and with Edward Ellice in 1821 during the negotiations that ended in union between the Hudson’s Bay and North West companies and was made a member of the joint board formed to manage the fur trade. He died in London, England.

McGillivray’s Rock is close to the lake known as the Committee Punchbowl at the summit of Athabasca Pass.

It was probably William Henry, not J. Henry, who gave this name and who crossed the pass in 1812. (David Thompson was the first white man recorded to have crossed the Athabasca Pass, early in 1811.)

References:

  • Simpson, George [1792–1860]. Fur trade and empire. George Simpson’s journal entitled Remarks connected with fur trade in consequence of a voyage from York Factory to Fort George and back to York Factory 1824-25. Frederick Merk, editor. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1931, p. 35. University of British Columbia Library
  • Franchère, Gabriel [1786–1863]. Narrative of a Voyage to the Northwest Coast of America, in the years 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1814, or the First American Settlement on the Pacific. Translated and edited by J. V. Huntington. New York: Bedfield, 1854. Gutenberg
  • Canadian Board on Geographical Names. Place-names of Alberta. Published for the Geographic Board by the Department of the Interior. Ottawa: Department of the Interior, 1928. Hathi Trust
  • Story, Norah. The Oxford Companion to Canadian History and Literature. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1967
  • Gainer, Brenda. The human history of Jasper National Park, Alberta. Manuscript report 441. Ottawa: Parks Canada, 1981. Parks Canada
  • Wikipedia. William McGillivray