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Title David Thompson letter to Anthony Barclay; Montreal
Date April 30, 1823
Description 1 letter; 5 pages
People Thompson, David, 1770-1857
Search Terms International Boundary Commission
Treaty of Ghent
Scope & Content 1823 April 30 Thompson

Montreal April 30 1823

Dear Sir
Your Letter of the 29 March came to hand on the
22nd Inst., the next Stage set off for this place, and on the
way received your Letters to me of the 27th March, and that
directed to Mr Hale, containing the Bills No 62 for my Salary
of this 5 Inst. for which accept my grateful thanks.
I am very afraid that none of the many Letters I have
wrote you has been fortunate enough to reach you, especially
from the pains we take to ensure their success: either my
-self or the Assistant ride down to the Post Office to put them
in. I can enumerate the most of them. A packet from
Kingston directed to you at Rhode Island. one do from
New York; the other Letters from Williamstown of the dates
I think of 5 Febry 5th and 17 March and 6th April, as I make
it my Duty to wish you monthly, and always gratefully
acknowledge the receipt of the Bills for my Salary. The
bills No 26 and 52, for the 5th July and 5th October came to hand
about the 20th Nov, and were acknowledged. The Bills No 58
for the 5th January, inclosed to me in your Letter of the 10th Febry
have not been received, and from the lengthy time they have
been missing, I am afraid they are lost. I cannot say what
ought to be done in this case. Your Letter of the 17 July
1822, has not been received, notwithstanding all my en
-quiries for it. As to receipts I have already forwarded to
setts for the 5 Janry and 3 setts for 5 April, one sett of the last
is still at Montreal in a map of the interior Countries on
end p1
begin p2
Mr Ross
imperial Paper, which he^ could not get forwarded to New York
with respect to employing an Interpreter, and an Indian
to print out the communications of the Country, and explain
to the Indians the Duty we are on &c &c if I had not considered
them of indispensable necessity I should never have employed
them, and shall be happy to get free of them as soon as possible.
- To me they are the most cumbersome and troublesome part of
the Business, and sincerely hope this following Season passed,
we shall be able to do without them. - The Interpreter is led
to expect 2/6 pr day during the winter, no rations; and 5/ pr
day during Summer and found; his Salary from the North
West Compy was L150 pr year; with a handsome Equiptment
the Americans considered an Interpreter of such importance
that they engaged one at the Falls of St Maries at 5/pr day for
the year, tho’ he was ignorant of the Countries he had to
pass. Mr Hale having wrote me that he forwards to you my
Estimate and Letters to him, these will inform you of my
Ideas on the survey &c of the following Season. With regard
to men, experience has taught us, that the less the number, the
better, both for being provisioned and commanded; four men
to a Canoe is the least number ever employed, five and six
men are the usual complament. Five men to each Canoe
would, among those rocky Countries, with so many carrying Pla-
ces accelerate the Business, but as my Word, in this Commission,
is the only evidence of this, I shall keep the least possible
members, and rather err on the side of what is deemed oeconomy
than otherwise. with regard to the Cedar Canoe it was
built on purpose for the Lakes, has a keel and rudder.,
end p2
begin p3
even with the Birch Rind Canoes, the same Canoes which are
used to navigate the Lakes, are not made use of for the interior
but are of somewhat less than half the size. A vessel for
the deep heavy waves of those fresh water Seas, must be dif-
-ferently constructed from the long narrow, shallow Canoe
for the Rapids.
The Intructions set last Summer are suf-
ficient for the regulation of the survey, and I should always
have considered them so, had not Genl Porter wrote me, that he
was in communication with you that our Party should winter:
which has always appeared to me, under the present impov
erished state of those Countries an expence too great for any
advantages that could result from wintering. Dr. Bigsby
is now here, his being with us in the Interior, will add to the
expence, and deduct from the Provisions which would other-
-wise have been in the Canoe; we shall do our best to render
him comfortable. In every case when it is possible,
it is not only my constant practice to consult Mr Hale, but
also to abide by his determination; for I have no other
Interest in this Business than to obey the orders sent me, be
what they will.It seems Mr Hale and myself have the same
Ideas on the Survey of every year.We conceive that every year
closes the operations of the Survey, and that before we are au
-thorized to recommence any operations for an ensuing Sea-
-son, we require an Order from you, for that purpose; and
had we been fortunate enough to have received your Letter
a week sooner, we should have left Montreal on the
28 Inst. for the survey, a week in advance. Mr Hale in
end p3
begin p4
his Letter of the 6th April winterI am rather at a loss what
to say to you on the Subject of your proceeding to the further
survey of the Interior at present without having met the Com-
-missioner since you closed the last years operations, but if
your Instructions from him are of a nature to authorize
you to set out, I have no hesitation in giving my opinion
that your Estimate ought to be acted upon; and that it is
as moderate as can be expected to secure to you any degree
of comfort, or even necessaries.I inclose to you on Tracing
Paper a map of the Interior Countries as surveyed last
Summer on the Scale of 12 Inch to one Minute of Long. Per-
-haps this Scale is too small for those Countries, and a Scale
of one Inch to a Minute of Long. would be more proper for
drawing the boundary Lines. The Assistant has completed
3 fair maps of this on imperial Paper, and one fair map
of do for exchange with Mr Ferguson. Will you have the
goodness to write me your opinion, whether the Interior
Countries shall be continued on this Scale, as in the Scale
of one Inch to a Minute of Longd, or any other you think
proper, for all are alike easy to me.We have completed
3 maps on Antiquarian Paper of Lake Superior, on the Scale
of 6 Inches to one degree of Long, with the interior Countries
to the Height of Land: there is no observation for Longitude
beyond this to effectually determine the Longde. but we have
had no time to color them.This map is still open to
corrections and additions
end p4
begin p5
In my duplicate of this Letter I shall inclose to you a map
of Lake Superior on Tracing Paper. I am afraid to venture
them both together. Be assured Sir that I shall make
it my Duty to write you every month while I am in Canada
and by every opportunity when I am on the Survey, if they
are not received, it is the fault of the Post Office, as they are
paid to the Lines.Mr Hale is every day expected in
from Boston. I could wish very much to see him before I
have this, which will be on the morrow, and expect the
men &c will leave La Chine on the 5 May, at latest.
The Chronometer received from the Naval yard; will be
returned, as it is no use to us in the interior Countries. My
own pocket Chronometer(L70 [?]) is far superior to it for
their purpose, it was made by the celebrated Earnshaw.
Necessity now obliges me to venture it, as we have no
other. The Telescope for the Observations of Jupiter Satel-
-lites is also my private property. I shall hope that in
case of Accident from the voyage, the damage either may
receive will be paid me, on this I shall be obliged to you
for information.We shall exert every nerve to execute
as much as possible of the Survey this Summer, and hope
please God, to lay before you such information of those Coun-
itries, as will give you a decisive view of them, and what
further ought to be done.
Your most Obedient
and humble Servant
David Thompson
Anthony Barclay Esq
H. M. 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.