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Title David Thompson letter to Anthony Barclay
Date April 3, 1821 [April 5?]
Description 1 letter; 8 pages
People Thompson, David, 1770-1857
Search Terms International Boundary Commission
Treaty of Ghent
Scope & Content Moy [Monday?] 3 April 1821

Anthony Barclay Esqr
Your letter of the 6th
Febry did not reach me until late in the evening of
the 21st March. The same gentleman Mr. Mahon,
who has the maps in charge, had also a letter from me to
deliver to the collectors at St. Johns for the chronometer
to be placed in his care until we should see Colonel
Barclay; which Mr. Mahon assured me he would do, ?
it was delivered him. On my passing thro St. Johns
late at night, I saw the Deputy Collector, he informed
me the chronometer was still in the possession of the
Collector waiting Dr. Tiarks; I told him that gentle-
man could not come for it, and that I would give
a letter to some gentleman to take the chronometer
to New York, which letter would be a sufficient
voucher for the Collector; the Deputy said such a
letter would be sufficient; and this letter I gave
to Mr. Mahon; but probably like myself, Mr. Mahon
arriving too lage, and setting off too early prevented
him seeing the collector. I am glad to hear
the Trunk of stationary has arrived; for what we
procure at Montreal is so inferior in quality, as
not only to give us much trouble, but also to pre-
clude the possibility of laying down a very acu-
rate map. The maps, field notes &c &c spoken
of by Genl Parker, an those of the Survey of the
year 1818 of the section of the thousand Islands
they were exchanged at Chippeway in the month
of June 1819. Mr. Adams, the american Astro-
nomer having resigned that spring, the maps were
intrusted to the care of Mr. Secretary Fraser, and

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instead of only 2 fair copies, on which all the stations
triangles &c were marked; he produced 4 fair copies
of part of that survey; two of these copies were highly
ornamented, but without the triangles &c 7c being
laid down, which I objected. The other 2 copies
had I think only the outlines of the shores laid
down but were complete in the essentials of the
Survey, the stations, Triangles &c ; but of these
sheets one was wanting, being (if my memory is good)
the south west part of the american section of the
Thousand Islands. As they could not supply it,
from Mr. Adams having resigned, the late Mr.
Ogilvy was obliged to take such a ///// offered
- I look upon this last mentioned lack? of the
Survey as still deficient; and the ornamented
sheets with the Triangles not laid down, as re-
dundant; but as 2 copies of these were produced
Mr. Obilvy thought himself entitled to retain
one copy. If I am not mistaken we have
2 copies of their field notes of 1818 if so, one copy
belongs to them; they are to be fond in the lon-
gest tin case of maps placed in the Montreal
Bank. I am really sorry that these
sad? triplicate receipts of ine are so unfortu-
nate as not to reacy you. as the 3 setts of last
Autumn failed. I thought to ensure those of the
5th Janry a certain arrival by placing them on
the 1st Janry in the hands of Mr. Hale at Quebec.
The Bills of Exchange for the 5th Janry came to
me in safety in the middle of Febry. for which
I thank you. Mr. Gray was the only person
whom I understood was engaged by the title of
Draftsman; and the last year of his service did

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nothin. Mr. gibbs is the second assistant sur-
=veryor, out as far as my knowledge extends, has al-
=ways had that place since he has been in this
Service, and is the last person whom I should wish
to quit the business. - the nature of the Sruvey
of Lake Huron does not require a particular person
for a Draftsman, as each of the Surveyors must be
their own Draftsman on that survey; unless the
person who is to assist the astronomer in his obser-
=vations, and making corrected maps from those de
livered in by the surveyer take that name.
when with Mr. Hale, speaking of Mr. Stevenson's salary
of L350, he ssaid it could not be granted unless a
retrenchment was made elsewhere, which I thought
could easily be done in the salary of the assistant,
and in this Mr. Hale agreed. the Plan for the
survey of Lake St. Clair will be sufficiently accurate.
That for Lake Huron is more difficult of execur-
tion, and depends very much on the accuracy of the
astronomical observations. The correctness of fil-
ling in the shores between the places of observation,
depends on the courses? and distances. For the courses
good compasses are required, which I procured at
New York; and are now safe with me. For the
distance, an eye well accustomed to estimation, and
tried? by calculation, acquires a justness not to be
readily believed. The Surveyors with me have not
time to acquire this habit; and it is on this account
and to give all possible satisfaction to the most
rigid enquirer, that I am so anxious to procure
the compound patent logs; if they arrive in time
I shall be easy in the head of accuracy. If they
do not arrive, I shall point out to the Surveyors
other methods, each checking the others, as well with
a neat calculation of approximation known

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perhaps only to myself reduce the errors to a mere trifle
this is the plan on which my own Survey and maps of the
north west countries are made. But the compound
patent log will not only prevent much calculation,
but be more satisfactory, to say nothing of the great
relief they are to the Surveyors. Mr. Bird thought
the plan of Survey for Lake Huron too minute, as per-
=haps astronomical observations and calculations
are not familiar to him. To survey Lake Huron
by a series of Triangles would take 2 or 3 years at
least, and perhaps more; unless the winter is applied
to it; but I am ready to adopt any mode you may
think necessary. It has been, and shall continue
to be my pride, that the Commissioners under whom
I act, shall have, from any mode of survey tht has
been, or may be adopted, the most accurate maps
that the mode fs Survey affords can give. I am
getting a small moveable Observatory of about 10 feet?
by 10 feet of loose 1 inch boards, constructed, to shelter
the Repeating Circle from wind and rain, by the
advantage of which, 2 fine clear nights will in gene-
ral determine the position of the place for latitudi
nal? asthmuth? ? to has been the worst possible
for surveying. The warm...
last of January and to the middle of February, thawed
and broke up the Ice; since which, constant cold
weather, with very high winds, especially of late, brought
on such quantities of shore and drift Ice, as precul-
=ded any moving about in Boats; this day one of the
finest we have had, at 6 am ? 15 and at 2/ for 32?
on the 31st March the River cleared of Ice, and a respect-
ble man from above the heat? of the channels, /will of
the fever and ague, which he says is prevalent there
informs me. that the channels are blocked up with
Ice, and Lake St. Clair nearly covered, but the Season
is now arrived when it must give way.

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Yesterday, the 2nd April, I sent down the Jully Boat
with Mr. Stevenson to bring up the stores. Green barge &c
&c &c and the morrow morning he goes off to bring up all
the rest; ?A? we shall proceed on the Survey so
soon as he returns. As by every account this
month is very unsettled weather, my plan is directly
to proceed to the Survey of Lake St. Clair and then Chan-
=nels. From Peach Island, where the Sruvey eneded
last summer, to the Thames is 30 miles; from the Thames
to the head of the Channels, following the channel
next the main there is about 30 miles more. We shall
use all possible dispatch, and as soon as this section
is done, move off for the Pt? Pele section; and having
finished that Business, directly end our course
to Lake Huron, and take up our first position, where
our Trigonometrical Survey of last Autumn ter-
=minated at the NE corner of the East Strait, formed
by the head? of the great Manitoualin Isled and from
thence, by sections, proceed to the most southern point
of this great Island, or? chain of Islands. From
thence remove to the NE main shore to the mouth
of the Missisuaga River, where the trinagular
survey also ended; and follow down the main
shore by sections of astronomical observations
and coast surveys to the head of the River St. Clair
Once arrived at this place, let the season be what
it will, we can always survey the River St. Clair
by Triangles which will then completely finish
the 6th Article, without leaving any void in it, and
will, on our part, be a complete, connected whole.
In the Survey of Lake Huron, if I do not re-
=ceive orders to the contrary, my plan is not to amuse
ourselves with the Islands. Otherwise than by sketch-
=ing those into the map, which lay close on the shore
as all those Islands that lie between the Mani-
toualin Islands and the NE shores, appear to me to

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to be of no importance to the determination of the Boundary
line, which in my opinion, will fall westward of the Main
=touline Islands. Altho very sensible, that to ac-
=complish this great work, the operations must be conduct-
=ed in a clear systematic manner joined to the great-
=est perserverance; yet if it shall please God, that
we keep our health and no accident befalls us, I
have not the least doubt of accomplishing it to your
satisfaction, my mind is made up to it, and I see clearly
every step that is to be taken. The fair maps
are now nearly finished, what remains we reserve
for a few days of bad weather. This inconstant
climate has given Mr. Stevenson and myself a few
twitches of the Rheumatism, which the warm
weather, when it comes, will take away. I wish I
could ^ as much of Mr. Gibbs, who for some time past
has laboured under a complaint of the liver, and is
in the doctor's hands, of course he has not, and cannot
afford us the assistance he otherwise would. He
will remain here until he is cured, which the Doctor
hopes will be in a fortnights time. Andrew
Johnson shewed me a letter from you, in which he
is informed, that I shall pay him 9 1/2 $, and which
he has received; this will be nearly balanced by a
debt of advance you made him, as per advice from Mr.
Hale of 9 $ which I have placed to his account, and
shall now pay him his years wages at 14 $ per month
to 5th April He is, of late especially, so much ad-
dicted to drinking, as to be half the time drunk
for this week past he has been in the Doctors hands
very ill, but is recovered and will proceed to
black Rock witht he first good opportunity a pity
for otherwise he is a good servant. I have engaged
a cook a decent sober man. We shall be much
obliged to you for 6 or 8 cod? lines for the tents - 10
blankets of 3 points, 8 flannel and 2 cotton shirts
for equiptments [sic] for the men. I have given away

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the blankets of my mattrass to those most in want, as the
3 point blankets here, are 5 $ each. the boat builders
&c require 2 1/2 to 3 $ per day and wages of all kinds are very
extravagant, because they are mostly nominal, being in?
paid in goods. I have done as little as possible, and
several things which I thought necessary I am deter-
=mined to do without. The boats are painted, pitched
&c by Alex McLeod, one of the men. I am very much
obliged to your for the attention paid my son to have
him rated as acting in this business tho' with a
salary merely ominal will be of use to him in his
future life. He is my only assistant in my observations
and relieves me of much writing. I shall send down
his works of last summer to Black Rock merely for
your inspection. as he is brought up to calculation
and especially to those required in this business, he
will be very useful to me, and I can command his
services day and night which cannot easily be got
from any other; and will most willingly learn? his
services in this business to be rewarded as you think
fit when the Survey of the 6th Article is finished. Your
map of 1 inch to a mile of the Detroit River and american
section of Lake Huron he has finished some time ago,
but the illness of Mr. Gibbs not permitting him to ac
=company us at present, the rest of it will probably
be performed by him. To enable the Surveyors to
bring up their work in bad weather, I have had 2
old? round tents. Otherwise useless, oiled, which in
rainy weather will serve as a covering; much time
was lost last summer for want of this, as the rain
beat thro' their tents. I have also got the Hospi-
=tal Tent repaired, it will be very useful to us as
a store tent, place for drawing maps &c &c - we found
the want of it last summer. As my services
for the survey will be absolutely required, I
shall send down the fair maps of 1819 and 1820

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by some safe vessel if the Confiance does not make her
appearance in time, probably the steam boat will be
the most sure, and shall direct them to the care of Com-
missary Staunton at Fort Erie. but if you consider
my presence necessary at Black Rock, you will
pleast to inform me, and that, as well as any other
orders will be respectfully attended to by
Your most obedient Serv.
David Thompson

I shall esteem it a favor if you will inform Mr.
Ress? to purchase of Bickell the Chymist one
bottle of Jamaica Ginger, and have it sent me.

[sideways] Mr. Thomspon
Dated April 3, 1821
Recd May 7 1821
Ansd, May 9 1821.

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.