, , , , , , , , ,

Buffalo Bulls Fighting by Paul Kane

Paul Kane, 1846, watercolour on paper. Kane visited the West when the bison were still numerous (courtesy Stark Foundation, Orange, Texas)

(Photo and caption credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)

Progress Report

We are now at the mouth of the Columbia River, aboard the Tonquin, when the War of 1812 broke out, ending John Jacob Astor‘s dream of a monopoly on the fur trade in North America.  John Jacob Astor (17 July 1763 – 29 March 1848), had just founded the Pacific Fur Company (PFC). The demise of the Tonquin, a bark, at the Clayoquot Sound, was a factor in the collapse of the Pacific Fur Company. Chief Wickaninnish and members of his tribe, murdered most of the Tonquin’s crew.

At Fort Astoria, in the Oregon country, nearly everyone was British. Fort Astoria quickly became Fort George. The Montreal-based North West Company, rivals to the Hudson’s Bay Company, bought the Pacific Fur Company‘s assets.

Gabriel Franchère

Gabriel Franchère (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)

I am reading online publications of Gabriel Franchère‘s narrative of the journey that took him from New York to short-lived Fort Astoria, as well as my own copies of such works as Alexander Ross’s account of his adventures in the Oregon country.

Gabriel Franchère, a clerk, was one of John Jacob Astor’s most trusted employees who, as it turns out, would become an author. Franchère wrote a detailed Relation, a narrative, of the trip that took him and all men aboard the Tonquin, from partners in the Company to the lowliest employees, from New York to Fort Astoria, around Cape Horn.

In 1836, John Jacob would commission famed author Washington Irving (3 April 1783 – 28 November 1859; Rip van Winkle) to write Astoria. Consequently, Franchère’s narrative was requisitioned. Gabriel Franchère was a mere clerk.

In Franchère’s Narrative, translated and edited by J. V. Huntington, Aboriginals are often referred to as “barbarians” and “savages,” but Franchère observed that it was best to treat them as equals and thereby avoid hostility. I don’t know what led Chief Wickaninnish to murder most of the crew of the Tonquin.

A Honeymoon 

Coincidentally, my husband and I spent our honeymoon at Wickaninnish Inn, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, in the area where the Tonquin was destroyed. The food was extraordinary and we were in the company of celebrities who flew to the Inn regularly to “get away from it all.” At the time, there was no road to Wickaninnish Inn. We had Long Beach all to ourselves. Emily Carr had lived in that area. So we visited and worshipped.

Haida Totems by Emily Carr

Haida Totems by Emily Carr (Photo Credit: Google Images)

When we returned to Vancouver, I took a course on textile and was taught the Haida people‘s techniques for spinning, dyeing, and weaving wool. I still have wool I spun decades ago, but I gave my artwork. I believe it was destroyed, which could be what it deserved. 

The years I spent on the west coast were my happiest.

Sources and Resources

With kindest regards

I am  inserting a brief video on Emily Carr (The Canadian Encyclopedia). Simply click on the link below and use the arrows to see the video:

Emily Carr (click)

I am also inserting, once again, Canada’s National Film Board‘s documentary on Paul Kane. It is a 1972 production by Gerard Budner (1972: 14 min 28 s.). It cannot be embedded, but one is a mere click away, below:

https://www.nfb.ca/film/paul_kane_goes_west (click)


Boat Encampment, Sketch made by Paul Kane on the Columbia River, BC, c. 1846, watercolour. (Courtesy Stark Foundation, Orange, Texas). (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)

© Micheline Walker
6 June 2015