Sunday, June 01, 2008

Can’t dance, must jump

Last night (31st May 1827, Fort Edmonton, Canada), before we should part with our new friends, Mr Ermatinger [Edward Ermatinger, Douglas’s companion on this journey] was called on to indulge us with a tune on the violin, to which he readily complied. No time was lost in forming a dance; and as I was given to understand it was principally on my account, I could not do less than endeavour to please by jumping, for dance I could not.

Fort Edmonton was established on the Northern Saskatchewan River in 1795 by the HUDSON'S BAY CO as a fortified trading post next to the rival NORTH WEST CO, which had earlier built its own fort nearby. After the amalgamation of the 2 companies in 1821, Fort Edmonton emerged as the leading centre of the Saskatchewan district fur trade.

The evening passed away pleasantly enough; breakfasted at 5 o’clock and embarked in the boat with all my baggage and went rapidly before the stream. Put ashore in the dusk to cook supper, and as the Stone Indians had manifested hostile intentions it was deemed unsafe to sleep at a camp where fire was. We therefore had the boats tied two and two together and drifted all night.
Finding this mode of travelling very irksome, never on shore except a short time cooking breakfast, always dusk before a second meal, I began to think this sort of travelling ill adapted for botanising.

Just in the dusk had a fine chase after two Red deer swimming in the water; both were killed. Saw a huge grisly [sic] bear and a number of small plain wolves. Passed Fort Vermilion, an abandoned establishment.

On Wednesday at sunrise five large buffalo bulls were seen sanding on a sandbank of the river. Mr Harriott debarked and killed two, and wounded two more. Fifty miles further down [the Saskatchewan River] a herd was seen, and plans laid for hunting in the morning.

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