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Title David Thompson letter to Anthony Barclay
Date June 26, 1820
Description 1 letter, 4 pages
People Barclay, Anthony, 1792-1877
Bigsby, John J. (John Jeremiah), 1792-1881
Bird, William A., 1796-1878
Thompson, David, 1770-1857
Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, Duke of, 1769-1852
Search Terms International Boundary Commission
Treaty of Ghent
Lake St. Clair
Lake Huron
Drummonds Isle
Neebish Rapids
St. Maries Falls
Lake George
Saint Joseph Island
Scope & Content

Anthony Barclay Esqr June 26th 1820

Since my writing you at
May, I have received no letters. From May we proceeded
with light winds across Lake St. Clair; at the head of which
we were 2 days becalmed 2 of our men became ill, and
Lieut Grant so seriously as to be obliged to keep his bed.
In the evening of the 13th of June we entered Lake St. Clair Huron
in rainy squally weather, which soon changed to light winds
and frequently calm. Lieut Grant became better, and
our men with Mr. Gray got well. [?] on the 17th June
we anchored at Drummongs Isle, here I spoke to the Com
mandant store keeper and Commissary who promised
every attention to our stores, as any other service required
At 6 am the next morning a Breeze springing up we set
sail, and on the 19th June at 10 am anchored about a
mile below the east Neebish Rapids -From the sight
of the country I conceived myself at the extreme
boundary of Lake Huron, and immediately ordered
all the tents, stores, baggage &c &c on shore, and by the
evening all the tents were pitched, and every thing in
tolerable order. I then examined the Country an
having satisfied myself of the correctness of the
opinion I hd formed, ordered the Survey to com-
mence on the 21st Inst since which we have
been actively employed. From the very rugged
aspect of the Country a Bar Line seemed hopeless,
I had the good fortune to find one of 2700 feet over a
sandy shore, under water, sometimes 212? ft deep. It
has been accurately measured and its position
with the true meridian determined. The variation [?]
is 2" 5' East. For want of men for the skiffs, I have as yet
been unable to employ either Mr. Gibbs or Gray, and con-
sequently have not made two thirds of the progress
we ought to have done, on the 22 June I sent Mr. Po-
mainville [?] with 4 men to the Falls of St. Francis to engage
2 good canadian ore [?] men, which is the description of
men we want, but none could be had. I have hopes

end p1
begin p2

of getting two from Drummonds Island, whither Mr. Po
mainville and 6 seams now go. All these shores are
rugged stones with very little or no Beach, and the
alder, willows and small birch overhanging the water
which occasions tedious clearing for the stations, and
for being seen from each other so that we require
every man to be active with his axe to make any
advance. On our arrival here we had a man ill with
the Pleurisy who is now nearly well. Our Men stand [?]
thus, Johnson (a good man) and Geo Cook for the camp.
Morrison for Dr. Bigsby, Thos Williams and 4 men
for the cutter, 4 men for the jolly boat which we [?]
find to be as few as can manage them. Altho hitherto
I have never been able to muster more than 5 hands
to my boat. One man is always left to take care of the
Baot. When we can procure 2 hands more, the skiffs
will always be in active employ, both Mr. Ferguson
and myself will each have 2 parties to set up stations
clear away woods, survey &c &c. and when the skiffs
with an additonal oar [?] man from the Boats, as [?]
man cannot set up a station. I act solely in concert
with your request that the Survey should be car-
ried on in this vast Lake of Islands with the ut-
most dispatch, and some attention must be paid to
rowing a heavy Boat against a heavy gale of wind.
Mr. Pomainville is an invaluable man, he is re-
quired to look after stores, provisions, fishing &c&c
our [?]has already given us several good meals,
and one day of provisions for all the men. Your
liberal supply of poultry &c has lasted us until
these 2 days & past. We have still our sheep alive
but am afraid he cannot fatten on acct of the flies.?
The musketoes, and and? horse ? flies have dreadfully
worried us, and sadly disfigured myself ? Mr. Ferguson
and Gibbs. The best understanding exists between
Lieut grant and us. he c? to me? for with
us, ? our is camped on shore. he will be constantly
employed in soundings &c &c.

end p2
begin p3

I shall attempt such a description of this country as will
I hope enable you to form a tolerable correct idea of it, and
of the propriety of my determination. From the Falls
of St. Francis the river continues gently to widen for about 1/2
miles, a long Island then commences and separates the waters
about 2/5 of which forms a ? channel of about 2 miles?
width in the west side of the above island and
after an easy current of about 15 m in length contracts
to about 600 yd? in width, and runs over the shallow uneven
bed of stones for about 1 m in length at the rate of
3 m per hours; about 1/2 mile lower down discharges itself
into Lake Huron; this is the west Nebish Rapids.
About 3/5 of the water from the falls of St. Francis passes? on
the east side of the above long Island, and forming a
fine deep channel of 2 to 3 M? wide and 15 to 16 miles
and 1/2 m in length
in length, contracts to about ?50 yards width ^ running
in a deep channel at the rate of abt 4 m ? abt
1 M below this, empties itself into Lake Huron; this is
the east Neebish Rapid. Both the east and west
channels, on being separated below the falls of St. Fra
ncis by the long island, have for about 2 miles, sand
banks and shoal, which prevents vessels going any
higher up?....
is the most encumbered with these isles and sands.
The distance above Neebish Rapids to the falls is called
Lake George. At the head of the east Neebish Rapid, a smaller
channel goes off to the cataracts, but of no consequence
as it is scarcely navigable for canoes. The water of the
east and west Neebish Rapids is separated into ^ large
bodies by the island of St. Joseph. This island ap-
pears to ? to be abt 23 M long, a strait of seemingly
about 12 m wide separates it from Drummonds Isle,
which latter seems about ? M in length. And then
2 islands on the east, and the north side of Lake Huron
in the west, forms from the Neebish, as it were a strait
of 1 to 3 miles width with a few islands. From the
foot of the east Neebish, clusters of islands form and
scatter over the body of water east of island St. Joseph,
into which the small east channel joins about ? m
below this camp.

end p3
begin p4

I have commenced the survey by a line above the west
Neebish Rapid, and by another line above the east
Neebish Rapid. Mssr. ferguson and Gray take the
small eastern channel, and the body of water east
of St. Joseph's Island for about 9 or 10 miles below the camp
where they will finish. Mr. Gibbs with myslef take
the east and west Neebish Rapids to their junction,
and the body of water west of St. Joseph's Island, to-
wards Drummond's Island, which we shall continue
to survey, until Mr. Bird and Party arrive, when
a further division of labor will be made.
As yet we have had no intelligence from Dummond's
Island, and therefore cannot say whether the Duke
of Wellington is arrived or not. I left letters for Mr.
Angus McIntosh to forward as the provisions contracted
for, provided he had received no letters from you
or Mr. Hale to the contrary. I shall pay all possible
attention.... becoming
in provicions, stores &c &c shall be observed and
every exertion will be made to forward the survey.
In my next I shall give my opinion on the fur-
ther prosecution of the survey, of the next spring's
work, with every necessary arrangement, conse-
quent on the further plan of operations.
I am Sir,
with Repect
your humble servant
David Thompson
[sideways on page]
Dated, June 26, 1820.
Recd Augt. 8 1820.
Ansd. Augt 15, 1820.

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.