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Title David Thompson letter to Anthony Barclay; Fort William, Lake Superior
Date Sept. 8, 1824
Description 1 letter; 4 pages
People Thompson, David, 1770-1857
Bayfield, Henry Wolsey, 1795-1885
Search Terms International Boundary Commission
Treaty of Ghent
Scope & Content
Sept 8. 1824 Fort William
Lake Superior

Dear Sir/
My last letter was from this place under
date of the 16th June on the evening of which day we set off
on the survey of the interior countries; the next day we
passed Mr. Ferguson & Party. On the 23rd having carried
over the Great Carrying Place, we commenced the survey,
constantly employing Massey's Patent Log wherever it could
be used; so as to obtain the greatest accuracy possible.
And rigorously continued the survey, as if we had never
surveyed by far the greater part of the Lakes. On the
evening of the 22nd July, we entered the Lake of the Woods,
the water high beyond anything seen in the memory of
the Natives. Having settled the parallel of 49 north
latitude, and placed the best monument we could, we
proceeded to examine the west side of the Lake for that
angle mostly likely to be fixed on as the NW corner of
the Lake. We found three distinct bays, at the ex
tremity of each we raised a monument, numbered 1_2
or 3. Having settled their positions we run a line a-
mong the islands to the sortie of the Rainy River, and
on the 5th August entered this River. We suffered much
bad weather, and were sadly annoyed with musketoes
as is common in inundated countries.
On our outward survey to the Rainy Lake
on the 10 July, we came to a band of Indians in Lake Namen-
kan, with whom was Mr. John Sayer. I informed him of
my

end p1
begin p2

my intention of going to Lake Superior, by the River St. Lewis, (is
Fond du Lac) and agreed with him to meet me at the Sand
Point, in South Point Lake, accompanied by two Indians well
acquainted with that country, between the 6th and 10th August.
He informed me that neither himself, nor the Indians
could accompany me, if later, as they would not be back
in time for the Wild Rice Harvest. On the 9th August in
the morning we arrived at the Sand Point, but neither
Mr. Sayer, nor any Indian were there. The Indians whom
I met informed me that Mr. Sayer was in Dry Berry Lake
and would not be with us, as all the Indians were starving
a heavy frost having destroyed all the berries, and the
highwater, the fisheries. On the 10th August we proceeded
on the route to the St. Lewis, thro the Crane Lake and to the
Crane Carrying Place, which is about 1700 yards in length
and the Vermillion River from 126 to 80 yards wide, on its rapids
and much water. From hence we returned to complete the sur-
vey of the Lakes between us and the Great carrying Place.
This cost us more time and labor than we expected, and it
was the 1 September when we closed it. On the 3 we arri-
ved at the Great Carrying Place, and in the evening of the
6th at this place thank God. The men for some time past had
been on wild rice, a very weak food, which could not sup-
port them under their severe labor. Of our incessant
exertions you may form an idea, when the actual
survey of the interior countries from the 23 June to the
1 September, as shown by Massey's Patent Log, passed

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begin p3

One thousand geo miles, more than half of our drawings &c are
still in Black Lead. We think we have now completed
the Route of Communication from the Great Carrying Place
to the North West Corner of the Lake of the Woods, and our strict
examination of those countries this summer will give a dif-
ferent figure and extent to most of the Lakes from what they
were or laid down before.
From a Mr. LeRose and Mr. Sayer I got an ac-
count of the Communication to the Fond du Lac, by the River
Vermillion & St. Lewis, it is direct, bold, navigable, and
seems pointed out by Nature as the real passage from
Lake Superior to the Lake of the Woods, and the countries be-
yond. Last evening Lieut Bayfield and Party
arrived here, having closed their survey for this season, he
informs me that in consequence of his having been direct-
ed to survey the River St. Lewis up to its falls, and collect?
all the information he could of its waters to its sources.

About 3 weeks ago, he surveyed it, and found it had
water enough for a schooner to the foot of the rapids
a distce [sic] of 17 geo miles. And the Americans confessed it was
deep and full? 20 yards wide, even when they left it at the
Height of Land, which carries into the Vermillion River.
The American Traders, by some means have
been informed, that the line is to run up Pigeon River
and are now to build, and claim all the country thereto
as they informed Lieut Bayfield, and are also about

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begin p4

establishing a military post at the River St. Lewis, so much
do they anticipate where the boundary line shall pass.
On the 23rd August Mr. Ferguson and Party in one
canoe arrived here, and on the 27th left this place for the
Falls of St. Maries. We are getting ready to set off on our
return to Montreal, please God. The weather has al-
ready set in very cold. The 2nd Septr it froze hard and on the
4th and this morning the hoar frost is lying all over the
ground like snow.
Your most obedient
and humble servant
David Thompson

Anthony Barclay Esquire
His Majesty's Commissioner


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.