Maine Historical Society header
Maine Historical Society header

Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Title David Thompson letter to Anthony Barclay
Date March 16, 1822
Description 1 letter; 4 pages
People Thompson, David, 1770-1857
Search Terms International Boundary Commission
Treaty of Ghent
Scope & Content 1822_March_16
River Raisin 16 March
Dear Sir/
Late in the evening of the 26th Feby
we arrived safe here; I sincerely hope you had as
pleasant and quick passage to your house, from
which you had been so long absent. We have
just finished the maps your ordered to be sent
you. viz. 1 copy of the River St. Lawrence, or Iro-
quois from above Cornwall Isle to the Cat Isles
1 copy of the controverted part of the Detroit River
1 copy of Lake St. Clair, and its channels - and a
copy of my map of the water passages from Lake
Superior to the Lake of the Woods &c. With the 3
first maps you are intimately acquainted. The
latter map contains the present canoe routes from
Fort William to the interior, and I believe needs no
other remark than the two passages join in Lac la
Croix. The southern route by the Grant Portage
has the sortie of the Pigeon River, which sortie is
taken from a Captain Bennett who laid up his vess-
el there to winter; it comes out of the Goose Lake by
a long rapid, and is little else than a strong rapid
or falls for the short distance it is navigated.
The passage to the Moose Lake is thro a mere brook,
sometimes so shoal that half the cargo must be
carried, and this brook lessens [sic] to the Mountain
Lake, from whence by a carrying place of 848 yards
the road leads to an isolated Lake, and in this man-
-ner to the Height of Land; have a carrying place of
396 yds leads to a Lake from which a brook issues
with Rapids, having carrying places to Lake Seigh=
=anah, out of which last lake, by carrying places, we
follow a chain of isolated lakes to the Knife Lake; at the

end p1
begin p2
incomplete scan: left side missing

of which we again find the rivulet, which
Seighanah, much increased in breadth
it is said to be unnavigable between the
and Knife, and in my opinion
northward of the canoe route. The
River is now followed thro the Lakes
and Crooked, to Lac la Croix, here again
to the northward of the Canoe Route, &
dangerous navigation, a carrying place
leads to the junction of 2 brooks into Lake
, and from thence to Lake Annemican;
of which the River making a great
a point, and having a fall and carry-
210 yards; the canoes shorten the road by
yards into a kind of brook, which also
Rainy Lake, after which there is a fine
to the NW end of the Lake of the Woods,
out the River Winnipeg by a high fall;
by carrying across a rocky point of
200 yd width, called the Rat Portage-
the route more clear, I have laid
very few of the Islands, which in these
numerable. We should have finished
sent you much sooner, had we been
the Pentegraph correctly over the tracing
thin paper of these copies; after sev-
found it necessary to transfer the map
paper to the antiquarian paper, by
we had one steady body to work on.
thus insure the 5 copies required be-
alike. Mr. Bird had for-
sheet of the map of Grand Island before
a Mr. Ruggles, whom he desired to keep it
for, his letter on this miscarried, at

end p2
begin p3

length a reply to my letters reached me on Monday the
10 Febry (the stormy day). In the afternoon I waited on
Mr. Ruggles, but he not being at home I did not get it-
until 4 Pm, and the next day colored it &c and past
ed it into the body of the map - As the map was
already bordered with ribbon, the edges had contrac
=ted, and rendered the space for the vacant sheet too
large. I remedied this the best I could, but was obliged
to paste a narrow slip of paper between it and the
next sheet: and on this account could not make
the two halves of that map join neatly; I therefore
left them as it were in two maps, forming together the
map of Grand Isle; had we had time I should have
preferred undoing the ribbon and bringing the
sheets to their proper place. After leaving New
York a very heavy thaw came on, attended with
much rain, this made the roads very bad; and be-
ing anxious to set the Assistant to work on the
transmitted copies, I made directly for my house
by Plattsburgh, the French Mills &c&c. A constant
summer, as I may say, has continued, and has laid
the country in that state, that travelling can only
be performed on horseback, or on foot. I have there-
fore not been at Montreal, and for the present Mr.
Ross can do what little is required which is sending
up, when opportunity offers, a few things required
for the canoe. On my arrival here I found no-
thing done, the person to whom I intrusted the
getting of the cedar logs, a very careful gentleman
waited my arrival, as he did not think proper to
pay for logs that did not answer; the next morning
27 Febry I hired a man to get the logs, but the very
mild weather so flooded the swamps that on the
begin p4

he gave it up. I have now hired another man to fetch
the cedar logs, from another place, and am just come
from choosing them out in the swamps, from whence
they can be got with certainty, a road passing close
by them. On next Thursday I expect to set the saw-
yers to work, they are engaged at 7/pr hundred
feet. A boatbuilder is also engaged at 7/ pr day
and a good man at 2/6 pr day and find themselves,
these are all that are required. I fully expect to
be ready by the 10th or 15 May, which will be full
early enough for the upper lakes. I have been
obliged to abandon building with copper rivets
none can be got at Montreal but what must be
cast. One of the brass founders asks 6/pr lb. The
others 4/pr lb. which article alone at this rate
would amount to L12 or L15. I must therefore make
use of clout or broad headed nails they will do
well enough were it not they have an effect on
the compass. Every attention will be paid to
the economy and dispatch of business.
Your most obedient
and humble servant
David Thompson

Anthony Barclay Esq
His Majestys Commissioner

Mr. Thompson
Dated March 16. 1822
Ansd July 17 1822.

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.