I have continued to research Scots in Canada. They were fur traders and became were wealthy. When beavers nearly disappeared, they became explorers. As fur traders, they founded the North West Company (1779) which competed with the Hudson’s Bay Company (established in 1670). They lived in the Montreal’s Golden Square Mile(mille carré doré) and socialized at the Beaver Club, a gentleman’s dining club, founded in 1785. Later, they moved to Westmount, Montreal. A few senior members married French-Canadian women. The French who had remained in the fur trade after the Conquest were senior members at the Beaver Club. New France had its bourgeoisie and bourgeois remained. Some were Seigneurs. Affluent French-speaking Canadian may have lived in Outremont, a lovely area of Montreal. Until recently, bourgeois French Canadians did not live in Westmount. They lived in lovely homes located in Outremont. I visited relatives in that arrondissement. Their homes were lovely, but their dining-room could not accommodate a hundred guests.
Charles Chaboillez was a wealthy fur trader, but he lost his money. His daughter married James McGill who, in his will, paid his father-in-law’s debts and provided him with an annuity.
The Château Clique is associated with some members of the North West Company, but seigneurs and French bourgeois also belonged to the Château Clique. Fur trading had its classes, and the wealthy are its upper class. The French had been voyageurs and Amerindians were their guides. However, one could be wealthy in New France and Canada without exploiting others. I would not make that generalization.
In 1599, Pierre Dugua de Mons, Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnenuit and Samuel de Champlain traveled to North America on behalf of Henri IV, King of France and Navarre, also called le bon roi (the good King).Henri IV wanted France to harvest the rich pelts it could find in Northeastern America. Henri also asked Du Gua de Mons to create a settlement in what are now the Maritime provinces of Canada. Officially, Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal) is the first French settlement in North America. It was settled in 1604, four years before Champlain settled Quebec City. However, to be precise, Tonnetuit’s trading post was the first French settlement in North America, and it was located in the present-day Québec, one of the two provinces of New France. The other was Acadie. Henri IV had been a Protestant, a Huguenot, and so were the above-mentioned explorers.
Huguenots, a popular term used since 1560 to designate French Protestants, some of whom became involved in the Newfoundland fishery and Canadian fur trade, and in abortive colonization attempts in Canada (1541-42), Brazil (1555) and the Carolinas (1562-64).
Champlain was a secretive Huguenot, but Pierre Dugua de Mon(t)s wasn’t. As for Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnetuit, his occupation, fur trading, was that of a Huguenot. So, if his trading post was the first French settlement in the Americas, the very first French settlement in the Americas was a Huguenot settlement. In fact, although Champlain did not reveal his religious affiliation, he founded Quebec-City in New France’s Huguenot times. But matters changed in 1627. New France was governed by the Company of One Hundred Associates and its first shareholder was Cardinal Richelieu.
More permanent was the fur-trade. The French in Canada tended to their thirty acres, but many had to go to the countries above, les pays d’en haut. They were voyageurs or coureurs des bois. Coureurs des bois did not have a licence, so if caught, the pelts they had harvested were confiscated.
I love Pierre Chauvin’s trading post. New France would have its legendary voyageurs. They would be Catholics. But Pierre Chauvin’s trading post was a Huguenot settlement.
When Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnentuit returned to France, he left sixteen (16) men at Tadoussac. It was a settlement. Only six (6) survived.
Although Alexander Ross described the sinking of the Tonquin, he was not aboard the ship when it was attacked by Nootka Amerindians at Clayoquot Sound, in June 1811. It seems an Astorian left aboard the ship blew it up. As the story was conveyed to Alexander Ross, “one hundred and seventy-five Amerindians perished[.]” (Ross reprint, p. 170.)Alexander Ross writes that Captain Thorn’s temper “was cruel and over-bearing,—and his fate verifies the sacred decrees, that ‘he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy.’” (Ross reprint, p. 171.) According to Ross’ report, not only had Captain Thorn (8 January 1779 – 15 June 1811) insulted the Amerindians, but he had also detained two chiefs.
On the 12th Day of December
Young Alexander Ross had remained at Fort Astoria when the Tonquin set sail to the north, its crew and passengers hoping to collect precious pelts. However, on 12 December 1813, he witnessed Fort Astoria’s “death-warrant:”
“On the 12th Day of December , the death-warrant of short-lived Astoria was signed.” (Ross reprint, p. 250.)
On that day, Captain Black, who arrived on the Racoon, took possession of Fort Astoria and renamed it Fort George, in honour of his “Britannic Majesty” George III. However, men employed by the Montreal-based North West Company had preceded Captain Black by more than a year, nearly two. The soon-to-be Fort George had already become the property of the North West Company. Captain Black acted graciously, but there was no reward for him and his men at Fort George.
Let us now trace our way back to the beginning of Gabriel Franchère’s Narrative, a year before the Tonquin’s demise on the west coast of Vancouver island, at Clayoquot Sound, but also, a year before, to her losses at the entrance to the Columbia River.
Franchère’s Story Begins …
The Pacific Fur Company (est. 24 June 1810)
Voyageurs to New York
GabrielFranchère (3 Nov. 1786 in Montreal – d. 12 April 1863 in St Paul, Minn.) was entrusted by John Jacob Astor to take voyageurs to the Columbia River and the Oregon Country. He is the author of a 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. Born in Quebec, he was the son of Gabriel Franchère, merchant, and Félicité Morin (Miron, Marin). Franchère joined the Pacific Fur Company, founded on 24 June 1810, as a clerk.
Franchère travelled down Lake Champlain in a canoe. There must have been some portage, but, by and large, rivers were found all the way to Long Island. The canoe was in fact put on a wagon (une charette) and the voyageurs went down the Hudson River. (Gabriel Franchère’s Narrative, 24-25)
Franchère takes Astorians from New York to the Oregon Country
Narratives of the Voyage
As John Jacob Astor’s employee, Gabriel Franchère is remembered for his taking Canadiens voyageurs around Cape Horn and up to Fort Astoria, at the mouth of the Columbia River, today’s Astoria, Oregon (US).
But more importantly, Franchère kept notes on the Astor Expedition and, as mentioned above, he wrote a narrative of his epic journey, which was used by Washington Irving, the author of Astoria (1836), a book commissioned by John Jacob Astor. However, Franchère’s book has now been recognized as a very fine and accurate account of the Astor Expedition. It is a good book, reflecting uncommon understanding and sensitivity on the part of its author.
Aboard the Tonquin
Aboard the Tonquin when she left New York on 8 September, 1810, were partners Duncan McDougall, Robert Stuart and his uncle David Stuart, and Alexander MacKay, who took along his 13-year son, Alexander Ross (9 May 1783 – 23 Oct. 1856), not a partner (See Alexander MacKay, Wikipedia.) Alexander MacKay co-founded Fort Astoria. Also aboard were 12 clerks and 13 Canadian voyageurs, plus four tradesmen:Augustus Roussel, a blacksmith; Johann Koaster, a carpenter; Job Aitkem, a boat builder; and George Bell, a cooper. (See Tonquin, Wikipedia.)
The Falkland Islands
Stopover: fresh water
Captain Thorn’s callousness
I should include the ship’s crew and captain Jonathan Thorn (8 January 1779 – 15 June 1811) who was nearly shot to death by Robert Stuart when he set sail off the Falkland Islands, leaving behind Robert’s uncle, David Stuart, and 8 men (SeeRobert Stuart, Wikipedia.) Gabriel Franchère and other Astorians were nearly abandoned. In his Narrative, Gabriel Franchère writes that “nothing could excuse the act of cruelty and barbarity of which he was guilty.” (Franchère’s Narrative, pp. 48-49.)
Until it reached Fort Astoria, the story of the Tonquin is, by virtue of its subject-matter, an extraordinary story, but not a tragedy, except for Jonathan Thorn’s callous behaviour. The ship stopped at the uninhabited Falkland Islands because it needed small repairs and because its crew and passengers were nearly out of fresh water. However, had it not been for Robert Stuart, Jonathan Thorn would have caused the death of David Stuart and 8 men, one of whom was Franchère. In one description of Captain Thorn, Franchère states that:
“[h]is haughty manners, his rough and overbearing disposition, had lost him the affection of most of the crew and all the passengers.” (Franchère’s Narrative, pp. 48-49.)
Naukane, by Paul Kane, 1847 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Tonquin also stopped in the Hawaiian Islands, then called the “Sandwich Islands” and “Karakakooa.” It took aboard Naukane (ca. 1779 – 2 February 1850), the son of high chief Tamanawa. At Oahu, 20 men, called kanakas, were also taken aboard and placed under the care of Naukane (ca. 1779 – 2 February 1850). Other explorers had stopped at the Sandwich Islands. Captain James Cook was murdered on one of the Islands, in 1779.
Naukane’s name was changed to John or George Cox(e). Naukane sailed to England twice. In 1812, he travelled to Britain on the ship Isaac Todd. Later, in 1823, King Kamehameha II, of Hawaii, and Naukane were both sent to England to meet George IV, who ascended to the throne when George III grew mentally incapable of functioning as King of the United Kingdom.
After the demise of the Pacific Fur Company, in late 1813, Naukane returned to Hawaii. However, he would journey back to the Pacific Northwest and join the North West Company, as would Alexander Ross. He married a very young Aboriginal woman and lived at Kanaka, near Fort Vancouver. He died at Fort Vancouver. (See Naukane, Wikipedia.)
The Tonquin at the Columbia Bar (Photo credit: Internet Archives)
Astoria, as it was in 1813(Photo credit: Internet Archives)
The Tonquin’s Sorry Fate
The Columbia Bar
There are two endings to the story of the Tonquin. When the boat arrived at the entrance of the Columbia River, it faced a deadly obstacle: the Columbia bar, known as the Graveyard of the Pacific. Three boats were dispatched on successive days to find an entrance to the Columbia River. This search claimed some eight lives, including the life of one the kanakas.
Astorians began building Fort Astoria, but the Tonquin sailed north to her death at Clayoquot Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. By leaving Fort Astoria, Captain Thorn had also imperiled the men he left behind. They could no longer escape, which meant that they were at the mercy of Amerindians and facing difficult circumstances. The characteristics that make Oregon a fine destination, its gigantic trees in particular, were a nightmare to men building a fort. How could such trees be felled?
You know the rest of the story. Insulted and otherwise provoked by Jonathan Thorn, the Nootka Amerindians retaliated.
As written above, Fort Astoria was renamed Fort George after the War of 1812, when Captain Black, aboard the Racoon, claimed Fort Astoria for George III. A few months later, on 4 April 1814, Gabriel Franchère and other Astorians (Internet Archives, p. 263), left Fort George.
“We quitted Fort George (or Astoria if you please) on Monday morning, the 4th of April, 1814, in ten canoes, five of which were bark and five of cedar wood, carrying each seven men and crew, and two passengers, in all ninety persons, and all well armed.” (Narrative, p. 263)
Gabriel Franchère returned to Montreal. As noted above, Alexander Ross joined the North West Company and then the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), when the North West Company was merged with the HBC, in 1821. Ross married an Okanagan Amerindian princess and eventually settled in the Earl of Selkirk‘s Red River Colony, present-day Winnipeg. His descendants are Métis.
The Astor Expedition was not a complete failure. The Oregon Trail was traced, giving settlers a road to follow as they travelled west of the former Louisiana. The Oregon Trail allowed them to circumvent impassable terrain: a terrifying mountain range.
As for Franchère’s Narrative, it is, as I wrote above, a fine book written by a fine man. It stands on its own merit. What Franchère wrote about Captain Jonathan Thorn corroborates Alexander Ross’ description.
As he concludes his narrative, Gabriel Franchère points out that Irving did not give a completely accurate account of Astoria.
Washington Irving was a writer of fiction. It is therefore unlikely that he conveyed the real truth about Astoria. The truth he conveyed would be “poetical.” It may in fact resemble the truth about the demise of the Tonquin.
The truth about the Tonquin’s final moments is not the truth an eye-witness would tell, yet we know that Ross’ account reveals a more profound truth, which is that Captain Thorn’s death,
“verifies the sacred decrees, that ‘he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy.’” (Ross reprint, p. 171)
Gabriel Franchère and J. V. Huntington, 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, Internet Archives EN
Gabriel Franchère, Relation d’un voyage à la côte Nord-Ouest de l’Amérique septentrionale dans les années 1810, 11, 12, 13 et 14 (Montréal : C.B. Pasteur, 1820) (Internet Archives) FR
Ross, Alexander: Ross’s Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon or ColumbiaRiver, 1810-1813 (Internet Archives) EN
Alexander Ross, Ross’s Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon or Columbia River, 1810-1813 (London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1849 [ReprintCarlisle Massachusetts: Applewood Books]).
However, it would not be unreasonable to think that the Associates played one role only, which was to send settlers to New France or bring settlers to New France and that, as a consequence, farming may have been limited. The individuals who were granted a SEIGNEURIE were not necessarily persons who could run a farming community.
The official reason given by the Company of One Hundred Associates for abandoning its mission in New France was hostility on the part of Amerindians. Settlers were being killed. The Associates played one role only: sending or bringing in settlers. The colony was attacked several times by hostile Amerindians, which means that the company did not ensure the safety of the settlers.
Moreover, in this part of the North-American continent, life was harsh. There were epidemics of scurvy. It was therefore necessary to bring in not only a regiment, but also medical practitioners. Had arrangements been made to that effect?
Louis Hébert as Apothecary
Canada’s first settlers who actually farmed the land were Louis Hébert (c. 1575 – January 1627) and his wife Marie Rollet. Louis Hébert was an apothecary in Paris. His arrival dates back to the earliest days of New France and it was a blessing. He first went to Port-Royal, the main settlement in Acadie. He accompanied a relative, a cousin-in-law, the Baron de Poutrincourt, in what was an attempt to settle in the colony. However, Hébert did not settle definitively until Champlain built the HABITATION in what is now Quebec City. The first farmer had arrived but he, Louis Hébert, and his wife were unprotected.
The entente signed in 1667, may have brought a temporary thruce in the struggle to survive despite attacks. However, at the end of the seventeenth century Madeleine de Verchères (3 mars 1678 – 8 août 1747), the 14 year-old daughter of a SEIGNEUR, drove away the Iroquois Amerindians, but historian Marcel Trudel[ii] has suggested that this story was embellished by Madeleine de Verchères herself. It nevertheless belongs to a chronicle of hostility on the part of the Iroquois against New France. But the Dutch and other colonists were also targeted by Iroquois. The Amerindians were losing their land.
The Fur Trade
Moreover, when I studied the fur trade (blogs are listed below, please click), I read that when he arrived in New France, Pierre-Esprit Radisson (1636–1710) was kidnapped by Amerindians and tortured.[iii] And matters would not improve. When Pierre-Esprit and his brother-in-law, the older Médard Chouart des Groseillers (1618–1696), discovered the Hudson’s Bay, by land, colonial authorities did not, it seems, act in the best interest of the colony nor, for that matter, in the best interest of the motherland.
The Golden Goose: Radisson Goes to England
On the contrary, when Radisson and Groseillers brought back one hundred canoes of pelts to the shores of the St Lawrence, these were confiscated. Radisson therefore travelled to England, made a favorable impression, and in 1670, the Hudson’s Bay Company was created:
The company was incorporated by Englishroyal charter in 1670 as The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay
As a result, we now know why, “[i]n 1701, no furs were collected but France was forced to still pay the colony to keep it running.” (from a website entitled The Economy of New France, in PDF). It would appear that colonial authorities did not think in the long term. I suspect that they pounced on the pelts, made money quickly, thereby killing the Golden Goose. Authorities acted as if there were no tomorrow.
Morever, even though there were HABITANTS on SEIGNEURIES, little importance was given to agricultural skills. New France would grow into an agrarian society, but Louis Hébert introduced farming with very little help. He then fell on the treacherous ice, which killed him prematurely.
My last two blogs have featured artists I discovered through various searches on the internet: Kristiana Pärn and Steffan Johnson. I found Steffan Johnson in the “rising artists” section of Art.com, not Kristiana Pärn whose work I was familiar with. So I thought that before continuing writing the blog in progress, I would stop and praise these rising artists who cannot possibly be making a living from income generated by their art, except reproductions. But their art is affordable, and buying art is still one of the best investments one can make. However, buy something you like and can enjoy for years.
I will not speak at any length about our singers who are making millions and some billions, singing songs that are often the creation of a composer. I will let them enjoy their fortune, all the more since there are exceptions to every rule. I have applauded the success of Susan Boyle and was delighted to see Adele Adkins receive Grammy awards she deserved.
Many of us cannot afford to buy original artworks, however inexpensive they are. Life is extremely expensive. However most of us we can afford to download a song and even buy a CD.
But how will artists make money? Buying reproductions may help or purchasing one of a limited number of prints is also a fine way of supplying artists with the money to buy the material they need. As well, having a good manager can be helpful, but hiring a professional is expensive. So, by and large, the situation of these people is a “porte étroite,” André Gide‘s “narrow door,” or Strait is the Gate (1909).
Many books have also become too expensive. I was looking for a very recent book on the fur trade and the voyageurs and also wanted to purchase a collection of old chansons, but I realized that I simply could not afford what was not even luxurious. I am a scholar, a musician and an artist, but was led to retire prematurely. That story may be told in a forthcoming blog. I am writing a novel in which my main character has faced similar difficulties. I just can’t find an appropriate conclusion.
But for the time being, I am featuring a little-known artist in a blog. It may not help him, but it will help me.