Maine Historical Society header
Maine Historical Society header

Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Title David Thompson letter to John Hale; expenses of survey
Date April 5, 1823
Description 1 letter; 7 pages
People Thompson, David, 1770-1857
Search Terms International Boundary Commission
Treaty of Ghent
Scope & Content 1823 April 5

Rough Estimate of the Expenses of the Survey for 1823
under the 6 & 7 Articles of the Treaty of Ghent
% wages of 2 Foremen – each 15 $ per mo 6 1/2 months97 10 -
do2 Steersmen '' ''
do2 Middlemen 12 $ per mo170 - -
% Equipments each man
1 Blanket of 3 ptsat 10/
1 Flannel Shirt-'' 5/
1 pr of Trousers-'' 5/L1.10 by 812 - -
2 prs of Beef Shoes-'' 2/6
5 lbs of Tobacco-'' 1/.
% Oil Cloths &c &c5 - -
6 Cod Lines at 3/ each 18 -
Kettles Sponges &c &c2 - -
% 1600 lbs of Pork and 6 pr lb. Kegs included40 - -
500 - Beef at 6 pr lb.12 10 -
180 - Ham and 6 pr lb.6 13 4
22 bwl of Bis? at 22/6 pr bwl.24 15 -
14 Bush of Bean at 5/ pr Bush. Bag. included3 10 -
70 lbs of Rice at 6 pr lb. with Keg1 15 -
20 Gall of Rum at 5/ pr Gal. - &c5 - -
20 '' Brandy at 12/. '' &c12 - -
12 lbs of Tea at 7/6 pr lb.
12 coffee at 214 10 -
120 '' Sugar at 7/2 pr lb. @ Keg1 4
Candles and lesser Articles3 15 -
Cooking Utensils &c &c12 - -
ContingenciesL30031 19 5

% Loan of a Batteaux to Kingston5 - -
Steam Boat to York 2 Cabin Passengers6 - -
do 8 Men at 3 $ each6 - -
do Cargo2 - -
Carrying Place at York 3 Waggons at 8 $6 - -
repairing the Canoe2 - -
6 new Oars at 5/ each1 10 -
388 10
end p1
begin p2

% 3 Gal Linseed oil at 7/5 pr Gal1 2 5
1 Keg of White Lead1 - -
2 Paint Brushes- 7 6
Storage of the Canoe @ Baggage during the3 - -
winterto 15 May
Boards Nails &c &c for Repairing the Canoe1 - -
Contingencies5 - -
% Mr Pomainville Steam Boat to Niagara3 - -
Journey to Lake Erie. Freight to Niagara7 10 -
and portage to Lake Erie
Lake Erie to Amherstburg. Passage and18 - -
Freight to the Falls of St. Maries &c
Contingencies &c5 10 -
% an Interpreter for Mr Sayer, at 2/6 pr day30 5 -
1 Sept to 1 May
1 May to 1 September at 8/ pr day30 15 -
& Equipment value2 10 -

% 2 Birch River Canoe each L7530 - -
Gum Wallup Birch Rind &c &c &c5 - -
Freight of Cargo across Lake Superior
Storage at Fort William, payment to67 10 -
Indian Guides, and Contingencies
Total. L 600

I requested Mr D Ross to write to Mr John Ross of Niagara
to know at what price hulled corn and Biscuit could
be procured there. The answer was, hulled corn at 18/
pr Bushel and Biscuit at 38/ pr cwl. prices for that
place and of conscience.

Note to the above musts be added
a storekeeper – about 60 – J. Hale
end p2
begin p3
I shall now lay before you the plan of the intended opera-
tions for the ensuing summer.To use every exertion,
and every means to arrive as early as possible at Fort
William (about 40 miles NE of the Great Carrying Place)
there fit and 2 Birch Rind Canoes of the middle size
each manned with four men.One Canoe for the Assis-
tant and an Indian Guide; the other for the Interpreter
and myself.On arriving at the various Lakes, the
Canoes to separate, each surveying a side of the Lake
until we meet: and thus with all possible dispatch
proceed onwards to the north west corner of the Lake of
the Woods: settle its Latitude and Longitude; and
return among the Islands, noting their position, extent,
&c &c; and thus execute the survey of all the distant
Countries, and quit the Survey just time enough
to be on Lake Superior by the 1st Sept, or so. By which
plan we should, I hope, leave but light work for
following year; provided we are not to examine
the Sources of the River St. Louis. After this general
outline, I shall now enter into the detail.
Two Steersmen, and two Foremen are required, each
Canoe requiring one of each.and four middlemen
all these must be voyageurs brought up in the north
west, accustomed to the rapids and the care of Birch Rind
Canoes, and also to be careful of their provisions. 15$ pr
month are allotted to each Steersman, and perhaps they
will find this too little for the labor &c, but I should think
the utmost ought to be 16$ and the middlemen 13$ pr
month.Such a dissipated set of Gluttons, drunk
Kards and Knaves, as formed the Crew of last Summer,
and which the Batteaux men can furnish no other
would be the ruin of our Survey; besides their being totally
inadequate to the labor, and experience necessary in those
Countries.Last Summer when we landed on the
Great Carrying Place, with just one month Provisions
for the survey of the Interior; I pointed out to the men
the great necessity of economy in Provisions, to which
they all promised the strictest attention.On the fifth
day all was carried over. I then examined the Provisions
end p3
begin p4
and found about 68 lbs of Biscuit for one Article made away with,
mostly for my maps?mess?- we had to measure the Carrying Place
make observations &c &c and could not watch them; at all
times we were obliged to guard the Provisions, yet they
constantly found means to pillfer, and we were reduced to 3/5
lb of Biscuit per day for the Journey: their aim was to oblige
me to turn back in half the time proposed. The very
same thing happened to the American Party. On arriving
at the west end of the Great Carrying Place, Mr Ferguson
became alarmed at the great dimunition of the Provisions
and was obliged to reduce their allowance to 2 Biscuits for
man for day; which brought on a Mutiny that lasted 3
days. It is not easy to form an Idea how lawless these
people become in those distant Countries; besides a sort of
revengeful carelessness.Enough has been said to
the necessity of procuring men accustomed to long marches
and strict economy.
The Equiptments are as little as I believe
they can be got to accept, they take short of what they are
accustomed to on short such voyagesPerhaps four Bows
and 2 middlemen will be all we shall require from Mon-
treal, as I think we may be able to procure 2 middlemen
at the Falls of St Maries, tho' I doubt their Characters.
The Provisions are made out for 10 Persons for 6 Months,
there are now 2 months provisions at Fort William,
this Stock I wish to keep up for this year, as a rescource
in case of Accident, and a supply for 1824. And should
we not be obliged to examine the St Louis River, I should
hope, this year will be the last we shall require. Provisi-
-ons to be freighted by the way of Lake Erie, to avoid
which expence, the 2 Months stock will very much con-
tribute. If I had your permission, I am almost
certain at the Falls of St Maries, I could contract for as
much Provisions as will be required for 1824, at moderate
prices; which would save Freight and other Expences.
As from the very late and stormy Season, and the badness
of the Carrying Place, we were obliged to leave our Canoe on
the north end of Youngs Street, at the Holland Landing.
we shall require the loan of a Batteaux to Kingston,
and the Steam Boat to York, which is the most expeditious

begin p5
as the strong open shores if Lake Ontario makes us lose
too much time.
An Interpreter: the expense is stated, and
from him I expect that mass of information, which
can be obtained no other way, and by no other means,
nor do I believe we are able to pass thro the Indians
without a respectable Interpreter.The Indians
have never seen any People among them but as Tra-
ders; and they view with alarm and jealousy our
close examination of their country, and minute en-
quiries. Even last Summer, we could rarely procure
any direct information, and they would not guide us;
so that we could only follow the Route we know, after
we came in the waters beyond the Height of Land.
Without a good Interpreter, and a respectable Indian
with us, I doubt very much if we shall be allowed
to penetrate into the Country. Perhaps after this
year, we shall not want an Interpreter.
I have mentioned 2 Birch Rind Canoes,
we have one there already, but it received such bad
usage from the Batteaux Men of last Summer, that
it will cost almost as much to repair it, as buy a
new one. If we have only one Canoe, we shall be
liable to accidents which may at once put an end
to the Survey for this year. add to this, that one Canoe
cannot carry the Provisions required for the Summer
in those desolate Regions.But with 2 Canoes, we
can manage it. And the freight the Hudson's
Bay Company would charge (allowing they could do
it) will be more than equal the expense of the 2 extra
Men &c &c. If we have only one Canoe, we shall take
a long time to survey all those Lakes full of Islands.
with all our Expedition. I question much if the
end p5
begin p6
Survey can be finished before the summer of 1825 is at an end.
The fewer men, the more easy for me; but not most advan-
tageous for the survey. Two Canoes will do nearly as much
in one year, as one Canoe can do in two years, setting
aside mutual safety. My time is now wholly
taken up with the maps, my share of which I hope to
finish by the middle of April, when for a few days
I shall attend to the outfit, engaging of proper
men &c at Montreal; provided you allow the ex-
pence of my Journey, of which I shall be much
obliged to you to inform me; otherwise I remain
here, and affairs go on the best they can.
I have not yet heard if the 6 Inch Theodolite
is repaired.We shall require 2 plain deal
Boxes to be made for the Instruments &c, in which
they will be kept in this proper position when
carried over the carrying places. Last Summer
2 men were obliged to carry a Box by hand, for want
of the proper Boxes.
I have now laid before you my
plan for the ensuing Summer; order upon it as you
think proper; whatever you think is not allowable
we must do without. So for as the means fur-
nished will enable us to prosecute the Survey we
shall do our utmost to execute the Duty entrusted
to us. The Season is fast advancing, and I wish
to set off with the first opening of the navigation; so
that something ought to be decided upon. And I
shall be glad of your advice and remarks as
early as possible, to which I shall conform.
In the payment of Indians for Services, the most
ecconomical mode of paying them would be by Articles
taken from Montreal, rather than by Goods from the
Hudson's Bay Company. If you think this mode the

end p6
begin p7

best, an assortment can be made out to the value of
L15 H Coy and put under the care if Mr. Pomainville
Our future Estimates &c will expend on the Route
we shall survey this Summer to the north west
Corner of the Lake of the Woods, being accepted by the
Commissioners; I believe the Americans will ac-
cept it, as they do not wish us to examine the
Scources of the River St Louis; but how for this letter
may be necessary, the information &c of this year
will inform our Commissioner, whose views on
the Subject must be my only Guide. And if the
Sources of the St Louis River are to be examined, the
Estimate of this year will be that of 1824. except
freighting Provisions by Lake Erie, which may be
obtained at the Lake of St Maries
On the 8 Inst a Mr John M Gillivray
who has just come from Kingston, informed me, that
in a conversation with Comr Barre of the Navy
Capt Barre told him; the Admiralty has chartered
of the Hudson's Bay Company their vessel on Lake
Superior, at the enormous rate of L20 pr ton pr
month. The vessel is about 820 tons, say at least
4 months, equal the Sum of L6400. This Gentle-
-man told me Comr Barre was lost in sarprino
as the year before, he has refused the North west
Camp any more than L4.10 pr ton as the entire purchase money
I cannot help thinking there must be some mistake
in my informants statement.
I shall anxiously expect your advice &c
&c &c And I am sir
Your most Obedient,
and humble Servant
David Thompson
The Honorable John Hale
If you think it best to hire a Batteaux all the way to York, it
shall be done

Admin/Biographical History This compiled collection includes papers from Thomas Barclay (1753-1830), his son, Anthony Barclay (1792-1877), John Ogilvy (d. 1819), Ward Chipman (1754-1824), Ward Chipman, [Jr.] (1787-1851), David Thompson (1770-1857), Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow (1814-1901) and others related to the determination of the boundary between Canada and the United States. Materials include government documents, correspondence, maps, surveys, diaries and Indian deeds related to the determination of the boundary between Canada and the United States, particularly of the years of the St. Croix Commission, 1796-1812, the Commissions appointed after the Treaty of Ghent, 1814-1838, and the Commissions under the Treaty of Washington, 1842. Papers of diplomats appointed by the British and American governments include the correspondence of explorers who surveyed the boundary zones and of several other diplomats, political officers and aids who became involved in the arbitration of the border. The explorations around the Island of St. Croix by Robert Pagan and Native American Francis Joseph Neptune, and a map by Chief Wasp of the Ojibway tribe in the vicinity of Ontario and Minnesota are noteworthy.