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Algonquins, Champlain & the HBC

The Ancients: Peoples of the Laurentian Tradition

Morrison Island, Quebec, in Ottawa River Channel, east of Pembroke, Ontario. Allumette Island is the large land mass to the right of Morrison Island. Google Maps.

For thousands of years, the Ottawa Valley had been occupied by early peoples. One history book by the late Clyde Kennedy, an avid amateur archaeologist, sets out what is known of those ancient people. (See an excerpt from Kennedy’s 1970 book). Archaeological evidence was uncovered in the 1960’s on Morrison Island, which sits in the Ottawa River’s channel opposite present-day Laurentian Valley Township.

Morrison’s Island – Ile Morrison – On the southeast corner is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Ottawa Valley, the Morrison’s Island site. Discovered in 1961 and excavated between 1961 and 1962, the site produced a rich assemblage of copper, chipped stone, ground stone and bone tools, representing the remains of an ancient Aboriginal workstation, a fishing camp and a cemetery, all about 5500 years of age. Opposite the Morrison Island site, on Allumette Island, is another site of similar age indicating that this was a much-used locale in prehistoric times. Evidence from other sites indicates that human occupation of the Ottawa Valley goes back at least 6000 years and possibly as much as 10,000 years ago. During the time of the earliest Euro-Canadian exploration, the region was in the possession of the Algonquin Indians.     – From William E. Logan’s 1845 Survey of the Upper Ottawa Valley Page 110.

The Land of the Algonquin

As the ancestral homeland of the Algonquin First Nation peoples, the Upper Ottawa River Valley has known human occupation for thousands of years. The land remained unchanged as the native peoples practiced the belief that everything that the Creator has created on Mother Earth, should be protected. Then the Europeans arrived.

The population numbers of natives dropped precipitously throughout the Ottawa Valley in the 1800s and sometimes a lumber camp worker would document that calamitous mortality rate.  Deaths in the back woods usually went unreported.

Pembroke Observer & Upper Valley Advertiser, Friday, December 21, 1888.

More on the Algonquin First Nation:  http://algonquinsofpikwakanagan.com/index.php and http://www.algonquinnation.ca/

The First Nation mode of transportation – the iconic birch bark canoe – was quickly adopted by the newcomers.  The canoes were enlarged;  to become the “freighters” in the push into the vast hinterland. Birch Bark Canoes

The history of the Great Valley of the Kichi Sibi (Great River) and its inhabitants is the topic of two books by elected chiefs of their respective communities  and are well reviewed by Jean Luc Pilon of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, in the Canadian Journal of Archaeology; 2006, Vol. 30 Issue 2, p332 . The books might be a bit hard to find but worthwhile.

The river has finally been recognized for its place in Canadian history:  Heritage Status for Ottawa River.

The Explorers

HENRY HUDSON – “H H 1612 Captive”: 

An intriguing  mystery, and a theory to solve it, is found in The Hudson Stone: A Clue to a 400 Year Old Mystery.  Could it be true? Are his descendants still living in the area?

The Explorers of New France

Samuel de Champlain’s Foray of 1613 to Allumette Island

In this close-up of one section of Samuel de Champlain’s 1632 map, the Algonquin nation is labelled. Champlain observed the peoples and chronicled their lifestyle and his observations in his diaries. “Sault” is a French word for rapids or falls and are thus marked on Champlain’s map. This map, full-sized, is available in the MAPS section. Champlain’s numbers: 77 Chaudiere Falls, between Ottawa and Gatineau; 78 Lac de Nibachis (Muskrat Lake) with a chain of small lakes leading to it is shown.

Champlain Travels Westmeath Township

Samuel de Champlain

Samuel de Champlain (1567-1635) stayed 12 times in the Americas in total. On his explorations of 1613 he came up the Ottawa River from his base in Hochelaga (Montreal) and in his diaries he recorded his meeting with the Indigenous People’s of the Upper Ottawa. He crossed overland using Westmeath Township’s Muskrat Lake and Stogua Portage. Not only noting the geography and compass bearings of the land he traversed, Champlain was a chronicler of the first order writing of the natives’ farming, burials and lifestyle  and  left us diaries of detailed summaries of his travels and explorations.

PETOBY LAKE –  an older name for Lower Allumette Lake which is on Westmeath Township’s western shore. Research on the name turns up only a handful of documents using it, mostly on maps from the 1830s. Then the usage seems to have been dropped.

  • Used in 1920 in the excerpt shown at right from the Ontario Land Surveyors Annual Report referencing John NcNaughton’s 1836 Map.and the Stoqua Portage.
  • Used on the early Westmeath Township Map 22, circa 1830s.
  • Used by J.L. Morris in 1925 on his map of Champlain’s Overland Route of 1613, shown below.

Was Petoby the Algonquin name for the lake? Please write to this site if you know.

Champlains-journey-1613-ENG.This quick overview sets out Champlain’s time in the Westmeath Township area.

Accepted opinion was that Champlain’s measurements and compass bearings, which he had precisely set down in his writings, were inconsistent with the actual landmarks and distances.  It was commonly thought that the party had left  Muskrat Lake at its northern end and then climbed up and over the elevation of Cambrian rock called the Muskrat Fault before crossing overland northward on the “Stoqua Portage“.

The Theory by David J.A. Croft  of Champlain’s Travels

But newer thinking published in 2006 by Pembroke’s David J.A. Croft says that  Samuel de Champlain’s calculated distances are correct if the wide flood-plain and marshlands of the Muskrat Lake and Muskrat River were in full flood. That could be caused by many natural causes such as heavy rains, late spring run-off, obstruction or damning of the river by toppled trees. Croft set out to prove his new idea that the Champlain party used  instead the historic “Winter Road” or Meath Portage which extends from Meath Lake to Lower Allumette Lake.

Click:  Champlain’s Portage from Muskrat Lake to the Ottawa River by David J.A. Croft.

A study of topographic maps and aerial photographs supports the accuracy of Champlain’s records of camps and portage routes during his short trip in the Ottawa Valley. In 1613, Champlain travelled from a location near present-day Cobden on Muskrat Lake to Lower Allumette Lake, a widening of the Ottawa River near present-day Pembroke. The accuracy of Champlain’s recorded distances and routes have been questioned. In the twentieth century, historians confused by Champlain’s geographical and metric records came to erroneous published conclusions, which this study refutes. Summary from Craft’s Paper in Ontario Archeology, No. 81-82, 2006.

Taken from David Croft’s 2006 paper in Ontario Archeology.

Open Works of Samuel de Champlain, from the University of Toronto Archives, to read all of his explorations in detail. This excellent volume includes his maps and illustrations. From it comes the excerpt used here dealing with the Westmeath Township leg of his travels. He introduces us to two Algonquin Chiefs:  Chief Nicbachis and Chief Tessouat.  

Champlain’s first-hand Observations: Excerpts The Works of Samuel de CHamplain Vol II

Part of 1656 map by Nicolas Sanson (1600-1667) titled ” Le Canada,ou Nouvelle France”. The Sanson family, working in Paris, was long prominent in cartography and Nicolas became royal geographer. Practically all that he showed of the then little known Lakes Superior and Michigan appear here. (Public Archives of Canada). Taken from “The Upper Ottawa Valley” by Clyde Kennedy, 1970.

Champlain was only one of many explorers using the river as a highway to the north and west; – the Canadian Museum of History website has extensive listings under New France and Champlain.  This is a quick and easy way to brush up on the early Canadian history.

1657 Map titled Novae Franciae accurate Delineatio, attributed to Jesuit Franceso-Giuseppe Bressani, shows both Allumete Island clearly with #13 at Roche Fendu rapids and #15 at Paquette Rapids. Bressani set out for Huronia in 1644 but was captured by the Iroquis. He was ransomed, visited France and returned to New France in 1645 to journey up the Ottawa. Taken from “The Upper Ottawa Valley” by Clyde Kennedy, 1970.

The river was the main route into the continent and the riches the explorers sought for their European masters.  New France was well established as a colony and throughout the seventeenth century many expeditions lead by fearless, and sometimes foolhardy leaders explored the region. The Town of Mattawa, Ontario, located at the mouth of the Mattawa River where it enters the Ottawa River, celebrates these men with a well executed collection of wooden carvings of the explorers: Click here for more on the larger than life carvings.

“Just about every North American explorer of note at one time or another paddled up the Ottawa and Mattawa Rivers, en route to the hinterland of this great continent. They rubbed shoulders with missionaries, First Nations and colorful, local characters who became legends in their own right.”

Chevalier de Troyes

In an area now boasting one of the biggest Canadian Armed Forces Bases at Garrison Petawawa, we note the earliest military man who traveled up the Ottawa Valley:  the Chevalier de Troyes.  A captain of a company of French Marines on duty in the colony, Pierre de Troyes lands at Québec on August 1, 1685. The Chevalier de Troyes, thought to be “the smartest and most capable”, came through the valley with 100 men, 30 of which were French garrison solders.  They camped at Lake Coulonge on their way to James and Hudson’s Bay.

The late Clyde C. Kennedy in his 1970 book “The Upper Ottawa Valley, A Glimpse of History” gives the following descriptions of that military expedition:

The Garrison Petawawa Cinema building is named for Chevalier de Troyes,  to honour a fellow soldier being the first to bring troops through the upper Ottawa Valley.

Taken from “The Upper Ottawa Valley” by Clyde Kennedy.
In this 1704 Lahontam’s Map of Canada, the Ottawa was named at that time as  Grande Rivière des Outaouais – The Grande River. Its many portages were marked.

The Native Art in Canada website by Ojibwa authors gives a quick explanation of the men who traveled the river for a living.  As the pace of the quest for pelts quickened, the romance of the hardy a “coureur des bois” (coureur de bois, wood-runner, or bush-loper, to the English,) is quickly offset with the truth of how tough of body and mind these men had to be. Their transition into “voyageurs” in the employ of the trading companies is a story of nation building as a business enterprise. The Ottawa River, also known by the name Grand River, was their highway.

How was Lake Coulonge named?

Nicholas d’Ailleboust, Sieur de Coulonge, spent the winter of 1694-95 near the mouth of the Coulonge River and so established one of the first settlements on the Ottawa River.

The first trading post was called Fort-Coulonge. In 1760, the Northwest Company took over its management and in 1821, the Fort became the property of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Until 1828, it served as the head post on the Ottawa River. The post’s 655 acre farm was sold in 1844 and the buildings in 1855. The trading post became the village of Fort-Coulonge situated several kilometres down river. Courtesy of the MRC of Pontiac.

This table, shown below,  from a  Pontiac Quebec websiteshows the first inroads of the white men  up the Ottawa and into the Lake Coulonge area – as early as the seventeenth century. The river was a major commercial highway.

The Early Establishment of Pontiac County, Quebec

TownshipDateActionRevised to township / commentspage
Portage du Fort1611landedNicholas Vignau, a white scout, landed17
Fort Coulonge1694establishLouis d’Ailleboust established a fur trading post near the mouth of the Coulonge River17
Fort Coulonge1694-1695wintered establishNicholas d’Ailleboust spent the winter near the mouth of the Coulonge River thus establishing one of the earliest settlements on the Ottawa River10
Fort Coulonge1760takeoverThe trading post was taken over by the North West Company10
Clarendon Tp.1792planned8
Eardley Tp.1806, Aug. 22erected15
Fort Coulonge1821transferThe fort became the property of the Hudson Bay Company10
Clarendon Tp.1826grantsLand grants to the first 15 settlers8
Clarendon Mills1827, 1828buildSaw and grist mills built under ret. Ensign James Prendergast8
Fort William1829establishAs a Hudson Bay Post21
Clarendon, Mun. of1841establish9
Fort Coulonge1844, 1855soldHudson Bay Co. sold 655 acre farm in 1844 and buildings in 185510
Bristol, Min. of1846incorp.5
Calumet Island Tp.1846erected23
Litchfield, Mun. of1846, Nov. 20erected12
Allumette Island Tp.1847incorp.3
Lac des Allumette1848renameFort William, upon establishment of a post office21

from http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onrenfre/gazetteer_Pont.html#table3.

The Fur Trade

Fort Coulonge Trading Post on Lake Coulonge

The original New France trading post, circa 1653, at Fort Coulonge, became a North West Company post by 1795 and was located on the northeast shore of Lac Coulonge, near the mouth of the Coulonge River, close to present day Davidson, PQ.

Picturesque Lake Coulonge, in this stretch of the Ottawa River, is a widening of the main channel about two kilometers in length with the granite walls of the Laurentian Mountains coming right down to its northern  shoreline.

“The first trading post on the Upper Ottawa River was established by Louis D`Ailleboust, Sieur de Coulonge and Argentenay, third Governor General of New France. He came to Canada in 1645 to worked with Maisoneuve in the building of Montreal. By 1653, Louis’ interest in fishing and the fur trade led him to establish the trading post on the Ottawa river, west of the mouth of the Coulonge, which bears his name. This post became the North West Company in 1795, by 1802 was privately held by a company called XYZ and finally in 1821 was owned and operated by the Hudson’s Bay Company until 1855 when the trading post was no longer operational. ” – from the Chutes Coulonge Park  website.

In this Parks Canada paper The Fur Trade In Eastern Canada Until 1870by Norman Anick (1976), he chronicles the trading posts of the Ottawa Valley-Lake Temiscaming Area. Our excerpt below starts on Page 139. Wonderful first-hand comments.

Ottawa River 1793-1821

There are no accounts of the posts on the Ottawa River for three decades after Alexander Henry’s 1761 narrative.

In 1793, John McDonnell followed the same route westward as Henry. He mentions no trading post until he reached the Portage des Chats. “Just below” the portage there was “a pretty farm which was formerly a place of some trade.”

No post had yet been established in Lac des Chats. The next settlement which he sighted was Fort Coulonge, which he described as “a sorry hut, situated near the foot of the Mountains.” The last one he saw before reaching Sault Ste. Marie was Riviere Dumoine.

Daniel Harmon relates, in his diary for 1800, that the North West Company had “a small establishment” at the Chats. The only other post in operation which he notes is Fort Coulonge. ~ At Grand Calumet Portage, he saw a house which formerly had been active in the trade, but had been closed for several years, as those who had hunted there had gone further north.

“Perseverance” was the motto on the North West Company Seal from McCord Museum collection, Montreal.

Between 1801 and 1805, the North West Company and the short-lived XY Company actively competed along the Ottawa River. In 1802-03, the principal establishment of the XY Company was the “Chat”, likely at Portage des Chats, owned by Alexander McKenzie. J.B. Grout was its master. Its chief competition came from the North West Company post, Fort Coulonge.

In December 1802, McKenzie sent a Mr. Delaunay to Grout in order to enable him “to make a small establishment” at the Grand Calumet, or in the “Chenaux;” Delaunay had “orders to bend his force upwards towards Fort Coulonge.” If the Nor’Westers had “no establishment at the Calumet (which Peyette informs us they have), then Delaunay must go to Fort Coulonge, or even further up, and get every information in his power where the Indians hunt.” Delaunay was to be sparingly supplied and never given more than two kegs of rum at a time, because he was “addicted to drinking.” Two men, John Rich and William Gibson, were to accompany him.

It is not certain whether Delaunay established himself at Grand Calumet; it is certain that he did not at Fort Coulonge.

Fort Coulonge experienced a lucrative trade in 1802-03, prompting McKenzie to write in September 1803 to D. Cameron, who was in charge of the Chats, that he had no doubt but that a number of Packs will be made there (Fort Coulonge) this year but if it were possible I should prefer a settlement at Riviere Dumoin because 1st that they are too well arranged at the former place and that it is not far from Lac Ronde where we are sending goods at present under the care and management of Frans Albert who has direction to send his people that way in the course of the Fall and Winter 2 and it will divide their force and weaken them at Fort Coulonge and placing us in a situation to share in the Hunt of the Timiscaming Indians.

NorthWest marked bales of furs.

Cameron was left to decide whether the establishment should be at either Rivière Dumoine or Fort Coulonge, and a Mr. Payette was selected as its master. The site selected was Fort Coulonge.

There was also another post: Cameron was in charge of a post further north than the Chats, but its location is not mentioned. He was instructed not to advance any money because the hunters would then go the Chats.

The “Chats” House was at Portage des Chats, and was owned by “one of the Mrs. [sic] M’Kenzies,” of the North West Company. Having been informed by McKay that war had been declared between England and the United States, Hodgson was reluctant to proceed any further for fear that his children would be conscripted into the army. He purchased McKenzie’s establishment for £l,000 and settled there.

George Gladman of Albany visited him two years later on his return to Albanv from London. Gladman twice travelled along the Ottawa River between Moose Fort and Montreal. On his first trip, ascending from Montreal in 1814, the first post he noticed was Fort Coulonge, which he said had four houses. He gives a more detailed account of it on his second voyage, in the winter of 1816, this time travelling from Moose to Montreal.

He says he was given a civil reception by a Monsieur Godar, its master.

“I engaged an Indian as guide to Chats (Mr. Hodgson’s settlement) and procured Provisions for the day to my people to be paid for….The Canadians have here 1 Horse, 1 Sheep, 1 Pig, 2very small Cattle, all miserably poor but no Vegetable or Provisions except Indian Corn and Salt Pork this a far worse provided post than the Interior ones we have passed, there are two Canadian servant’s about the House, and several Indians. The Houses are four, a Store, Masters dwelling, Men’s House and two divisions more under the same roof, presume workshops, the fourth is for Cattle and &c and the Hay kept at one end, a piece of open Water opposite the door, and two or three Islands one of which I stopped in July 1814 passing here.”

Gabriel Franchêre, who passed Fort Coulonge in the summer of 1814, says its master was Mr. Goddin (undoubtedly Joseph Goddin). Gladman does not mention, on his first trip, the existence of a North West Company house at Lac des Chats. On his second voyage, he remarks that there was an old “Shanty House” there.

Nicholas Garry, who was sent by the Hudson’s Bay Company after the coalition of 1821 to survey the company’s fur trading establishments, on June 15 entered Lac des Chats and passed two North West Company trading posts, both consisting of “miserable huts.” The following day, he passed Fort Coulonge, managed by Mr. Goddin, and noticed an encampment of Algonkins near it. There was a North West Company establishment on Lake Nipissing, but Garry did not visit it. He was told that the company also had a post in the village of Lac des Deux Montagnes under the charge of Mr. Fisher (Alexander Fisher), which produced annually packs of beaver, each weighing 90 pounds.

Fort Coulonge Post Master Joseph Godin

Greg Piasetzki, a descendant of Joseph Godin has generously submitted his notes on his ancestor’s work at the Fort Coulonge Post:

“My ancestor Joseph Godin was in charge of the post at Fort Coulonge from about 1796 until 1823.  He is mentioned in numerous documents over this period.  However one document I only came across recently is his petition in 1819 for 1200 acres of land in Westmeath based on his having cleared 50 or 60 acres in Westmeath across from the (then) NW Co post at Fort Coulonge.  He asks that the 1200 acres (20 x 60 acres) include the land he has cleared.  The petition is granted but I haven’t yet traced the land through the land registry system to see if it matches up with the HBC farm.”

Piasetzki has also supplied this transcript of the original 1819 Land Petition by Joseph Godin to the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada  Sir Peregine Maitland. The military townships (found along the St. Lawrence and up into Lanark & Carleton), were labelled so because of the British Crown’s gifting of lands to members of its military to encourage settlement and provide a trained and ready defense. The War of 1812-14 was still fresh in people’s memories. The surveying of the townships of Westmeath, Stafford and Ross in Renfrew County would not be done for another 10 years. Johnstown District at that time took in Carleton, Grenville and Leeds Counties. 

1819 Land Petition by Joseph Godin Original microfiche.

To:  His Excellency Sir Peregine Maitland

Knight Commander of the most honourable military order of the Bath, Lieutenant Govern of the Province of Upper Canada, etc,etc,

The Memorial and Petition of Joseph Godin of Lake Coulonge, on the Ottawa River, Indian Trader.

Respectfully sheweth

            That your Memorialist has for the last twenty five years occupied a station on the lower end of Lake Coulonge on the Ottawa or Grand River, called Fort Coulonge, situated about one miles above the townships of Hull in Lower, and Nepean in Upper, Canada.

            That during that time he has cleared and cultivated on the Upper Canada side of the River, between 50 and 60 acres of land which are now under a crop of wheat, and that, to the best of your memorialists belief the said cleared and cultivated land is situated within the Johnstown District, but has not as yet been included in any particular township.

            That he is desirous of extending his improvements and settling a further tract in the vicinity, the population and cultivation of which would tend make really to attract settlers and promote civilization upon the line of the Ottawa; and should a back communication between the Lower Province and Drummond Island become an object beyond being the route for the Indian trade, it would form a principal link in the chain of such communication.

            Under these circumstances your Memorialist humbly hopes he may be considered as entitled to a preference for a grant of land containing his establishment and improvements and in the vicinity thereof.

Wherefore your petitioner humbly prays that your Excellency will be pleased to direct a grant to be made to your petitioner, under the usual conditions, of twelve hundred acres of land, to include his improvements and to extend along the Ottawa River and Lake Coulonge, upon a front of twenty acres, and with a depth of sixty acres, or of such other quantity as in such other proportion or direction as your Excellency may seem fit in the Johnstown District of Upper Canada, should the said land so cultivated and improved by him as aforesaid, be found therein, or in whatever other district it may prove to be situated;

And your petitioner will ever pray so

Joseph Godin

The Reply was not long in coming: – a petition dated 21 Oct. 1819, getting a reply dated 3 November 1819. The answer was positive for Godin.  Dealing with  government today would NOT have such a fast turnaround!

The Petition of Joseph Godin

21st October 1819

From the Honourable William McGillivray

Report of the Surveyor General

Report by Order of John Brikis(sp?)

The situation of the tract herein applied for appears to be at a Trading post called Coulonge on the West side of the Grand or Ottawa River in the Province of Upper Canada and within the tract lately purchased from the Indians [Note by GAP – appears to fall within Treaty 27 signed in 1819] in the Johnstown district, yet is a considerable distance from any Township under order of survey, the nearest to it is the military townships now surveying.

M Ridout Survey 3 Nov 1819

If the site of his land when the Township shall be surveyed do not interfere with any claims from the Military Settlement let it be confirmed to him.

Thomas Taylor, last Post Master at the Fort Coulonge Hudson Bay Post,  purchased the Post upon his retirement in 1855.  Taking his first contract with the Hudson Bay Company in 1815, Taylor worked his way up.  “From 1822 – 30 he was HBC Governor George Simpson’s personal servant and accompanied Simpson to the Columbia in 1824-25, to England in 1825-26, and back to the Columbia in 1828-29.”  Taylor died in 1879 in Pembroke and he and his wife are buried at Fort Coulonge.

Westmeath Township Paths & Portages Discovered.

From Collections Canada.ca, a wonderful old map: 1836 Blueprint B22 McNaughton Westmeath Map.  This important map, by Dominion Surveyor John McNaughton, shows the Winter Road and also other pathways and labels, with two roads not seen on other documents. It was usual practice that incoming Europeans would use existing native paths and portages, taken by  Indigenous Peoples for generations upon generations.

1.  “Road Operated by the Hudson Bay Company“, which starts at what is now Westmeath Village at the top of the Gore Line and finishes at shoreline on the other side of the Westmeath Peninsula, on what is now Malloy Bay, where the HBC had a post & farm. This would serve to avoid all the Paquette Rapids and be a more direct cross-country route.

2.  A “Trailed Road” which runs parallel to the shoreline  starting at the top end of Winter Road (Greenwood), and goes all the way to the northern end of the peninsula to the Spotswood area where there is a split into two to go to the shore. This makes clear the importance of the river and how the earliest settlers stayed close to this primary means of travel.

3.  Seen before: An unlabelled pathway from Beachburg Village, running northward through The Glen to Bellow’s Bay on the Ottawa shore. This has been named Mast Road in this website.

4. “Fish Point“, situated at the end of what is now Greenway Road in Lacroix’s Bay, LaPasse, has not been labelled on  other maps.

5.  Another unlabelled portage/pathway runs from Malloy Bay on Lake Coulonge to northeast of what is currently the LaPasse Village area. This has not been shown on other maps and would serve to avoid the rapids in the Lacroix Bay area.

Excerpt from “William Logan 1845 Survey of the Upper Ottawa River” writing on Tuesday, 26 August, 1845:

“We have reached Fort Colonge [Fort Coulonge] & I have procured wool cloth on the strength of Sir George Simpson’s letter of introduction from a very fair haired young man who said he was a relation of Dr. Trail’s, but who resembles Sir George Simpson in the build.”

Sir George Simpson, Governor of the Hudson Bay Company headquartered in Montreal, extended HBC assistance to certain travelers by means of a letter of introduction “instructing HBC staff to assist the bearer in every possible way.” The fur trade was over by the 1850s as the Indians were no longer finding sufficient numbers of fur pelts each winter.  As the road systems overtook the river as the main transportation route, the Fort was no longer viable as a profitable business. The post was finally closed in 1855 when it was purchased by Thomas Taylor.

Sir George Simpson, Governor of the Company of Adventurers.

This farmland and bush fronted onto the Ottawa, (also called the Grand River in those days),  at a bay in Lake Coulonge that would later be named for its owner Patrick Malloy, the purchaser of the tract from Brissard in June 1855.  Malloy would later sell up and moved to North Dakota, leaving a bay and a sideroad named for him in Westmeath Township.

The land registration listing:  HBC Lands – Registration of Lots., – shows that these lands had first been given by the Crown in 1836 to a Duncan McDonnell and his land patent was registered in 27 February 1836,  then resold to John McNaugton for £500. in May 1836.

The very next month John McNaugton sells it on to the HBC for £338.10.

Duncan McDonnell was the son and heir of the late Lt. Col. John McDonnell who had been given the land  by the Crown, in appreciation for his militia service in the War of 1812-1814. John McNaughton knew the area intimately; as the deputy provincial surveyor he had surveyed most of Westmeath and Ross townships and had acted as Government Crown Land Agent for many years of his career.

J.D. McLean, Reeve of Westmeath Township, writing in 1933:

   “There were several root houses belonging to the Indians, (or the remains of door frames and slab roofs covered with earth).  Indians had previously lived all along the River from LaPasse to Westmeath.  Indian graves have been found, and relics removed.”

“Across the Lake (Coulonge Lake), on the Quebec side, about one mile above where Davidson’s Village is now, stands one of the main Forts of the Hudson Bay Company.  They also had a post on the Ontario side, on the banks of the Lake, on what was afterwards known as the Poupore Farm.  During the time the Hudson Bay Co. traded along the shores of the Ottawa River, they cleared quite a lot of land on this farm, and built storehouses – some of the foundations are still visible.

As Mr. McLean piece reminds us, Indians had always lived all along the Lake Coulonge shore. Keith and the late Art Bromley’s father Garnet Jr., as a little boy, had his picture taken with a Chief in full headdress. Garnet Bromley Sr. worked for the HBC and told tales of the Indians encamped in the hills between the Bromley farm and the river – land later owned by the Brown’s and the Dunfield’s.

For reasons unknown the Quebec settlement downriver (now across from LaPasse, Ontario), adopted the Fort’s name to become the Fort Coulonge we know today.

Petty Fur Traders

Although the companies wanted to have complete monopolies on the fur trade, that was not possible because of the numbers of players involved and vast distances. Fur traders, one-man or two-man concerns, operated throughout the Ottawa River Valley. Both the North West Company and the Hudson Bay Company tried to control the traders & stop their operations in the Valley. This excerpt also from The Fur Trade In Eastern Canada Until 1870 by Norman Anick (1976), starts on Page 170 of the paper.

In 1829, Alexander Sherriff  observed that the Fort Colounge HBC’s establishment consisted of  “a double row of neat white washed  buildings and across the river, on the Upper Canada side, a farm of 60  or 70 acres.”    The date of 1829 was well before the farm land on the Upper Canada side was actually purchased in 1836, so the HBC was “squatting” on this land or had some unknown arrangement with the Crown.

This photo was in the Westmeath Women’s Institute Tweedsmuir Book and is thought to be the Fort Coulonge Trading Post. There is no verification of that.

The welfare of early inhabitants was always under threat.

Submitted by Catherine MacDonald:   Lisa Friesen from the Hudson’s Bay Archives in Manitoba sent  an excerpt from a letter from John Siveright to James Keith, dated Fort Coulonge, January 2, 1843:

“……Numbers of Children & some adults (Guide Bernard’s son one of the number) have dyed in this quarter of the Small Pox – fortunately the Indians have not come from inland yet & may escape if they will keep away….”.    ( HBC Arch. B.134/c/55, fo. 3 )

The HBC Farm on Malloy Bay, Lake Coulonge

From the Hudson Bay Company Archives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, we have this company document of the dealings at the  Fort Coulonge Post:    Hudson’s Bay Company Archives 1821-1855.

The farm across the river from the Post, is well documented in the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives and entries were made of the crops grown and harvested. The Upper Canada (Ontario)  farm land was needed to stock the Fort. It is assumed that the land was more suited for cultivation on the south side of the Ottawa River. Much of the supplies sold in the Fort store were grown during the summer at the farm; some livestock, grains, vegetables, hay, and ground flour were all stocked from the farm across the river.  Trading also took place at the south side farm post. During these years the river travel was quite extensive and the lumbering barons were exploiting the endless stands of tall pines. The Fort did a good amount of business with the lumbering shanties supplying necessities. The Deed to the “Governor and Company of Adventurers Trading into Hudson Bay”, Upper Canada HBC farm:  HBC Deed 1836.

The left side of this map shows Fort Coulonge 1680 located east of Davidson, Quebec . On the  Ontario-side of the river,   the HBC Trading Post at Malloy Bay, south shore of Lake Coulonge, is marked.  Taken from “The Upper Ottawa Valley” by Clyde Kennedy.

The farm consisted of 677 acres in all, in Lots 2 and 3 of the 1st and 2nd Concessions, as stated in the 1836 Deed to this land registered by Land Agent John McNaughton:

“…made between John McNaughton of Bytown in the District of Bathurst in the Province of Upper Canada, Deputy Provicial Surveyor of the one part and the Governor and Company of the Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay acting ,stipulating and accepting by John Severight of Lachine in the District of Montreal and Province of Lower Canada, Esquire, their attorney duly constituted for these presents of the other part; whereby the said John McNaughton for Three Hundred and Thirty Eight Pounds and ten shillings Lawful Money did grant,bargain, sell, transfer, convey, and confirm, unto the said Governor and Company of Adventurers acting as aforesaid……in the Township of Westmeath in the County of Lanark in the District of Bathurst in the Province of Upper Canada containing by measurement Six Hundred and Seventy-Seven Acres be the same more or less Lots Numbers Two and Three in the First and Second Concessions of Concessions fronting on Coulonge Lake in the said Township of Westmeath.”’

The usefulness  of the farm to the Company had diminished and in 1844 the acreage was sold to Louis  Brissard from Grand Calumet; 11 years before the Quebec shore Tading Post was closed.  This  sale for £1,000. made a handsome profit for the HBC and its Governor Sir George Simpson; who was acknowledged to be one of the great businessmen of his time and as a good Scot he never missed an opportunity to make a profit. This document  from 1844,  HBC LandsSale to Brissard 1844  ,  a Memorial registering the sale, sets out the terms:

“Governors and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay…..by Sir George Simpson of Lachine, District of Montreal, Governor of the Territory aforesaid Hudson’s Bay Company of the one part and Louis Bresard of ….in Grand Calumet in the County of Ottawa in the District of Montreal…bargain and sale … being composed of Lots Numbers two  and three in the Forest and Second Concessions fronting Coulonge Lake… for and in of the sum of One Thousand Pounds current money of the said Province of Canada….”

A HBC Artifact Remains

On the Westmeath Road at the Old Mill Bridge Corner, on the well landscaped front yard of Peter and Anne Anderson’s  stone home, sits an old log building that has had a full and colourful life.  This building served as a post on the Hudson’s Bay Company Farm on Malloy Bay.  If it’s walls could talk!  After a couple of moves and owners, the Andersons set it on a new cement foundation and  gave the old building a chance for a more quiet retirement.

The old log HBC Post in retirement:

Photo from The Upper Ottawa Valley” by Clyde Kennedy.

 If you would  like more on the Company of Adventurers and Sir George Simpson, read  James Raffin’s excellent book: “Emperor of the North, Sir George Simpson and the Remarkable Story of the Hudson’s Bay Company”.