Maine Historical Society header
Maine Historical Society header

Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Title David Thompson letter to Anthony Barclay
copy of Henry William Bayfield enclosure letter to David Thompson, dated Aug. 1, 1821
Date Aug. 13, 1821
Description 2 letters; 10 pages
People Thompson, David, 1770-1857
Bayfield, Henry Wolsey, 1795-1885
Search Terms International Boundary Commission
Treaty of Ghent
Scope & Content [pencil written much later: 13 August 1821]

The Honorable Anthony Barclay
Sir
By Captain
Jones, of the British Artillary, I had the honor of trans-
mitting to you, the occurances of Lake Huron up to the
6th July. On the 7th we had a heavy gale of wind, from NNW
which continued all day and night. On the 8th, we got under
way, and stood round Drummond's Island for the North
Shore. At 2/21 hr? the wind headed us, with threatening
weather, our being in an unknown part of the Lake hav?
several Isles and rocks near us, we anchored under the
lee of an island. July 9th wind SSE & strong breeze
with showers of rain. At 4 Am got under sail, and
beat to windward abt 12 miles. At &? hr came to an-
chor in a small bay of an island, at (as we suppose)
the most NE station of Mr. Birds survey of 1820.
July 10th A heavy gale from NE? with rain, in the
evening cleared. July 11th wind NNW a strong
breeze. At 4 Am got under way, out ran down along
the north Shore; the 3rd? great Manito Isle lying nearly
parallel to us, distant about 18? miles, and sloping to
the northward. The wind soon changed to WNW a hard
gale; from the many scant? rocks, shoals, and Islands
on an unknown coast, we thought best to anchor as
soon as possible, as the wind blew too hard and the sea
ran too high. Having run about 45 miles to the eastward
at 1/1/2 ? we anchored under the lee of a fine island.
at 9 PM the gale abated, tho still blowing fresh.
A bold promontory of bare? rocks on the north shore
bearing N 8? E ? miles, and which appeared to us to
be the most southern point of the north shore. I ac-
cordingly directed Lieut Grant to make this high point
if possible, as the most eligible for my observations.
July 12th At 6/2 AM, the wind moderate at WNW; we
made sail for the promontory, but were obliged to stand
off for sunken rocks &c &c, we ? ran down along
the

end p1
begin p2

Manito Island, but finding no passage that way, and the
wind freshening, we bore away for the promontory, and
found a passage to it. And at 1/1/2 ? having run about
18 or 20 miles direct, we anchored under it (abt 500 ft.
perpend [?] height and sheltered by an island of 150 ft
high. From this promontory the land lends? away
? for about 30 miles, thence bends round and
stretches as it were across to the Manito Isle, eastreme
point of blue hill, bearing ESE about 25 miles which
we concluded were the high Islands of La Cloche.
In the afternoon violent squalls of wind and rain
all to the eastward and southward seems to be-
chains of large and small islands, with many rocks
interwoven together, affording no outlet whatever.
The Great Manito Island lies about S?E 8 miles dis-
tant. July 13th. Seeing no marks of Mr. Bayfield's
survey, Mr. Grant agreed to employ the day in search-
ing for such. Accordingly went to a House of the North
West compy seen yesterday about 6 miles to the west
of us, but they had neither seen, nor heard of Mr. Bay-
field, and represented the country before us a quite
impassable for any other vessels than boats &c: also
informed us that another House lay about 12 miles
to the eastward of them; and tht they reckoned them-
selves to be 27 miles from La Cloche, and 57 miles from
the French River. Went with Mr. Grant to the House
about 6 miles to the eastward of us; found an old Cana-
dian who had been 18 years in the Lake; he descri-
bed the passage to the French River as very intricate
and in many places shoal, and could give no account
of Mr. Bayfield. On examining the prominent
places, we could perceive no traces of a survey.
Accordingly Lieut Grant agreed to go in search of a
passage for his vessel, and of Mr. Bayfield for 3 days
while I should settle the latitude and longitude of this
remarkable promontory and harbor.

end p2
begin p3

Having now finished the calculations of the observations
made SW of Mackinaw, the ?? give the latitude
45" 40' 9.7 N Long 8? 20' 53 W of Greenwich.
July 14th Mr. Grant and 6 men in my boat went off in search
of Mr. Bayfield, and a passage for the vessel to the east.
On the 16th at ? ? he arrived having found only
a
narrow, and not? very safe passage for the vessel, but had
not been able to obtain any intelligence of Mr. Bayfield
or seen any marks of his survey. He found the high
range of hills, the outer point of which lies ESE of us to
be a Cape of main land; and the most southern point
of the north shore, so far as he could see, having rowed
several miles beyond it for this cape we intend to
steer as soon as the weather permits. This harbor
we named Mile ? Island Harbor, its latitude is 46 - 4-5?
N and Long 82-3-18 west. Juy 17 wind NE much
thunder and lightning with very heavy rain; the wind
became so violent, that altho riding in a harbor of above
7 miles by 14 miles, we even obliged also to let go the best
anchor to prevent the vessel being driven from her place
The Boats were ? filled with rain water. At night
the weather moderated.
uly 18. Early a heavy gale at N?E At 9 AM the wind
abated, we got underway and stood over for the great
Manito Island about due south 7 miles, close on the
shore of which, we passed thro a strait of about 1209?
width, with strong current part of this space occup-
ed by a stony islet of 509 width. We came into 8 1/2 ft
water, but quickly deepened. This strait has currant?
only after heavy winds from north round to west. At
2 1/2 PM? came to anchor at Point Colls, the most south-
ern and projecting point in the north shore in this
quarter of the lake. Soon after anchoring 2 canoes of
Indians came on board, from whom we learned, that
had
they were journeying to the westward, and ^ seen Mr. Bay
field and Party this side of the French River, 3 days
ago. Lieut Grant immediately agreed to go in quest
of Mr. Bayfield, while as usual, I settled the position
of the

end p3
begin p4

of the place by stronomical observations. The latitude
is 45 - 56 - 25? Long 81-43 44 W

July 20 At 1 PM Lieut Grant in company with Mssr Bay
field and Collins, each one his well manned boat
arrived, and staid with us the rest of the day. I conversed
with Mr. Bayfield on the necessity of a copy of the maps
of Lake Huron for the Board, as promised by Commissi-
oner Barre's after urging? every argument in my pow
ers, the substance of Mr. Bayfield's answer was-
that as yet he had received no orders whatever to let
any one have a copy of these maps, and that until
such an order shall be received from Commissioner
Barre he is obliged to keep them secret. That even
allowing he had received such an order from Com
missioner Barre, yet his surveys of the lake begin-
ning with 1817 are yet in detached portions, each
? forming a section only plotted down and not
yet connected together. That he had still as much
of the north shore remaining to survey as will fully
occupy him and his assistant not only this, but also
the next year; besides the astronomical observa-
tions necessary to be made for giving a determined
position to his survey He appeared very willing
to do any thing for us, so far as his orders permitted.
July 21 Wind northerly & cloudy. At 8 Am Mssr Bayfield
and Collins left us on their way to Drummond's Island
for provisions. We made sail and stood for Rattle
snake harbor, in the 4th, or most eastern Manito Island.
The wind changed to very light ? from SW, almost a
head wind. A shoal and dangerous navigation, in an
instant from 6 fathoms to 9 feet, going over shoals, and
peaks of isolated rocks. At 8 PM anchored under the
SE point of the Manito Island.
July 22 Sunday Wind SSW light air? and at times
calm. At 10 1/2 AM a large batteaux commanded by Lieut
Jackson with 2 months provisions for Mr. Bayfield and
party

end p4
begin p5

and party came on board. They had been out 13 days -
we infomred them of Mr. Bayfields departure for Drum-
mond's Island &c After they had put on board the let-
ters and private property of that surveying party, they
set off on their return to Penetongushene. Mr. Grant
showed me a letter from Commissioner Barre in which
he was directed to give me every information he
could, and let me take a copy of any maps, sketches &c
of Lake Huron that should be in his possession.
From the number of letters addressed to Mr. Bayfield
and some of these appearing to be in Commissioner
Barre's hand writing I judged it necessary that
Lieut Grant should take his boat and directly set
off with those letters for Drummond's Island dist 100
miles, and there deliver them to Mr. Bayfield, in
hopes that among them an order from Commissioner
Barre might be found; authorizing Mr. Bayfield
to let me have a copy of his map of Lake Huron such
as it is. At 2 PM Lieut Grant accordingly set off
We continue a beating against light head winds.
July 20. Early in the morning found ourselves close on the
4th Manito Island; kept the lead going, no bottom with
?fine line. While examining a ragged shore for the
harbor, the vessel suddenly but gently grounded in
6 ft. water; on looking over the side, we found from
the main chains forward, a flat level rock, and at
the stern it was perpendicular steep 14 1/2 fathoms
all our exertions could not get her off, until
we had thrown overboard the midship ballast.
when most fortunately, being but little wind, we
hauled off into deep water, after having been two
hours on the rock. while the vessel stood off I took
the boat, out looked for a channel and the harbor.
having found both, we had the good fortune to anchor
safe in Rattle Snake Harbor at noon. ? cloudy
weather came on, and the moon being too near the sun
no possibility of obtaining observations for longitude
did not take place until the night of the 31 July.

end p5
begin p6

This time, as usual with every spare moment employed
in calculating the astronomical observations; and the
assistant in surveying the shores adjacent the place of
observation, plotting &c &c &c The Latitude of
Rattle Snake Harbor I found to be 45 - 31- ? 4 N longitude
81-39-37 W July 31 At 1 PM Lieut Grant in com-
pany with Mssr Bayfield and Collins arrived from
Drummond's Island. After some conversation
with Mr. Bayfield, he showed me Commissioner
Barre's letter to him; in which he was directed "to let
the surveyors of the British Commission for the Boun-
dary Line, copy any maps, sketches &c he might have
of Lake Huron, if they requested it of him." Mr.
Bayfield informed me he had nothing with him
that could be of any use, as they were merely sketches
without any regular connection to form a whole.
That his maps, so far as they were plotted, were shut
up at Penetangushene, to which no person had any
right of access but himself; that he had no orders
to quit the survey a single day; and in short that he
could not allow his maps in their present unfini-
shed and unconnected state to be copies. but that
he would gladly allow them to be copied as soon
as possible, when in a state fit for that purpose.
On which I wrote him the following note.

On Board H.M. Schooner Confiance
Rattle snake Harobr 31 July 1821
Sir/
Anthony Barclay Esqur His Majesty's commissioner
under the 6th 7th Articles of the Treaty of Ghent, having
wrote to me, that a copy of the maps of Lake Huron, from
your survey would be forwarded to me by the agent, from
Commissioner Barre, for the use of the board of Com-
missioners acting under the 6th & 7th Art of the Treaty of
Ghent to assist the said Board in the determination
of the boundary line between the province of upper
Canada, and the United States. I have to request

end p6
begin p7

of you Sir, to inform me, if the map can now be copied
and if not now, when may a copy of the map of Lake Huron
be forwarded to Commissioner Barre for the use of the
board of Commissioners acting under the 6th & 7th Art of
the Treaty of Ghent. An answer to the above will much
oblige.
Sir Your more obedient
and humble servant
David Thompson

Lieut Bayfield
Royal Nave on
the Survey of Lake Huron

to the above the following answer was received.

His Majesty's Schooner Confiance
Rattle Snake Harbor, Lake Huron
1 August 1821

Sir/
In answer to your letter, with which I was ho-
nored yesterday, I have to inform you that my
survey of Lake Huron is not yet completed, and
consequently a map of that Lake not constructed.
I think that we shall be able to finish the survey
of Lake Huron next summer; and if so, a map of it
will be constructed in the winter of 1822, which
according to Commissioners Barre's orders, you will
be at liberty to copy. I am sorry that it hap-
pens that my maps cannot be constructed at
present, so as to be of service to the Commission, but
I shall be happy to give any information in my
power that may be of service.
I have the honor to be
Sir
Your most Obd & Humble Serv
Henry W Bayfield
Lieut R. N. employed
surveying the Lakes of Canada

To Mr. David Thompson
&c &c
H.M. S. Confiance.


end p 7
begin p8

From the above letter, it appears to me that no copy of a
map of Lake Huron can be laid before the board of Com-
mission at an earlier period than January or Feburary
1823. I am well aware that I have no orders
further endeavoring to procure you a copy of Mr. Bay
fields map of Lake Huron, but I thought it would
be satisfactory to you to obtain decisive informatin
on so important a part of the 6th Article as the map
of Lake Huron must be; and on which map, it
appeared to me, you had reckoned on as something
to be laid before the Board this very autumn.
At 11 Am Mssr. Bayfield and Collins went off in the
survey of the north shore &c we got under way and
steered for cape Hurd Harbor, but as we had light
head winds, made but little progress.
August 2nd wind S W a small breeze, very cloudy
with showers of heavy rain, and distant thunder.
At 8 1/2 AM anchored in the harbor, cloudy day - At
night much heavy lightning. could not observe
Aug 3rd a fine day. Observed for Lat and Long. altho
I could have wished to have added another sett of
lunar observations for Long to those already made
yet the time was fast approaching to be at Amherst
-burgh, and weather uncertain.
Aug 4th a fine day. Having observed for time, and as
usual piled up a heap of stones?, with a cedar pole in
the middle of them, I went on board, and at 7 1/2 am
got under way for the River St. Clair, with light fair
winds - distance to the head of the river 144 miles.
Aug 5 a fine day fair wind. At night obliged to
hear? the wind? to keep off the land.
Aug 6. a very fine day. At 7 1/4 Am entered the River St.
Clair. Thank God for our prosperous voyage. At 3 1/4
Channel
PM entered Lake St. Clair - soon after which, in an intricaly
we grounded on a mud bank, for about 1/2 hour. At 9 PM
anchored about 12 mi. above Detroit.
Aug 7. A fine day but calm & very light airs at 5 AM
get under way, and proceeded down the River.

end p8
begin p9

At May? sent the boat ashore with a note to Mr. Angus
McIntosh, requesting him to make up his accounts
with all possible speed. At 3 1/2 am came to anchor
at Amherstburgh. here I found Mssr. Stevenson, Gibbs
and Pomainville. We directly entered on the necessary
works of getting on shore those things to be left in charge
of the Commissary, and taking account of all stores,
provisions &c &c
Aug 8 Finished taking account of every thing, and
put all ? in good order. &c &c &c. Settled all the
accounts, paid off the men &c except the accounts
of Mr. Angus McIntosh, who has not yet forwarded
them.
Aug 9, Ready to sail light winds, mostly ahead; but
detained by the strange, and in my opinion, impro-
per conduct of Mr. C? Stuart a justice of peace, who
committed four of the seamen to goal for a trifling
offence: by application to Col? Hawkings com-
manding the garrison, we got them bailed, to ap-
pear the 8th Septr. aug. 10 Early got underway
with light winds, in the evening, the wind fair.
Aug 11 A fine run all day, before a fair wind ?
PM close off Erie Village ? So shore. Aug. 12. Early
within 30 miles of fort Erie, but the wind, having
shifted a head, with a close fog and haze, kept
beating all day to windward, at night anchored
within 4 1/2 miles of Fort Erie. Aug. 13. Early weighed
anchor, and at 7 Am anchored at Fore Erie.
In this voyage every exertion has been used
to obtain the necessary astronomical observations
and no time lost, except 2 or 3 days in search of Mr
Bayfield. Indeed our good fortune in fine
weather, for observations, has been such that in the
course of 32 years, I do not remember any series of
such observations to have equalled it.

end p9
begin p10

From Mr. Bayfield I obtained the latitude of several
places, with their difference of longitude from the head
of the River St. Clair. But to render them of use, from
my Ast. Observations at Mag? and other places, a series
of calculations of the geometrical survey of Lake and
River St. Clair &c on geographical principles must
first be gone thro to determine the Lat. and Long.
of the head of the St. Clair; for which I have no time.
It is from this place Mr. Bayfield took his departure
but could not obtain an observation for Long. altho he
waited 11 days. As I had already observed at six
different points, the number to which I was restricted
by the Board; I did not think proper to disobey orders
by observing at a seventh place, however necessary
the knowledge of the lat. and long. of the head of the St.
Clair may be, as a point, on which others depend.
Mr. S. Thompson will have ready the plans of the
harbors and shores adjacent to the places of observati-
ons, on order that the observed places may be easily
recognized on the copy of Mr. Bayfield's map of Lake
Huron, whenever that may be forwarded to you.
I shall now wait on Genl Porter, and communicate
to him my letter to Mr. Bayfield, and his answer. And
by? the this opportunity forward this letter to Buffalo;
and directly return to find rooms for an office along
this Frontier? As soon as possible shall write you
on the state of the survey and other matters. Will
you please to inform me how many of the assistants
are required to attend the Board at Utica.
I have the honor to be ?
your most obedient
and humble servant
David Thompson

Aug 13 1821
Fort Erie
H.M. s. Confiance

The Honble Anthony Barclay
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.