Monday, July 28, 2008

Catching up with Mr Douglas

Monday 9th July, 1827

Early in the morning had a large fire made for drying paper and had all my plants changed [to new drying papers for plant specimens] before breakfast. Wrote a short letter to Governor Clinton [of New York State, who Douglas had met extensively 4 years earlier], saying I should sail from Hudson’s Bay for England.

The scenery of this place is fine, rich and very beautiful; well wooded low level country; soil fertile deep alluvial loam with a heavy sward of herbiage.

Requested the favour of hiring a small canoe to carry me to Red River. The Indians being camped a considerable distance from the place and all at this season being much engaged, I had hired for me a [French] Canadian, who agreed to carry me for the sum of four dollars and his food. Saw that his canoe was in repair in the course of the evening and made preparations for starting in the morning.

Tuesday 10th

High winds during the night and morning from the lake; delayed until ten o’clock, the swell being too heavy for such a small canoe. Being provided with provisions for myself and my man I took my leave and descended the river to the lake. The lake at this season being high nothing worthy of notice occurred [!]; saw no plants; observed flocks of [now extinct] passenger pigeons. [Wish my damn pigeons were extinct] Camped at dusk on a gravely beach; was visited by some Indians, of whom I purchased some birch bark for my specimens.

Wednesday 11th

Embarked at six o’clock. At ten came to a low projecting point, made myself some breakfast, overhauled the new-laid-in plants and took a short turn in the woods. Unable to paddle any further myself, yesterday’s labours having put both my hands in sheets of blisters [ouch!]

Much annoyed during the forepart of the night by mosquitoes.

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