Struggling up Lake Winnipeg, August 1827
New readers start here:
David Douglas, botanist and plant collector extraordinaire is currently (in 1827) making his way across North America from the Pacific coast in the company of the voyageurs of the Hudson's Bay company. He has been travelling since mid-March when he left Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River. After a spell in Fort Garry (now Winnipeg) he is heading up Lake Winnipeg on the final stage of his journey to York Factory, the Hudson's Bay Company depot on the western shore of Hudson's Bay, where he will take a Company ship back to England.
Next Monday I fly out to Winnipeg to start retracing his steps for this part of his journey. We start filming next Wednesday at York Factory (try Google) for a TV documentary on Douglas. More reports in real-ish time as we go along.
Sunday 12th August, 1827
Last night the wind increased to a perfect hurricane and the water rose so high as to overflow our camp [Lake Winnipeg is well known for these wind-induced surges], so we had to betake ourselves to the boat for the night. Wind more moderate at sunrise; started at 9 o’clock, sea nearly calm. Nothing occurred.
The wind at two a.m. being favourable and moonlight, we started under easy sail until daybreak. Morning cloudy and heavy, rain from six to eight. Put ashore to breakfast. The weather being somewhat drier, proceeded at nine and crossed over to the south side of the lake, when the wind veered round to the south-west, which prevented us from going. Put ashore, camped and remained four hours, when it calmed; proceeded a second time although the weather was still gloomy. Nothing occurred
Morning dull, cloudy and drizzly; rain at eight. Started with a favourable breeze at five o’clock and gained the “Dog’s Head” to breakfast at half-past eleven [late breakfast then!!] Passed “Rabbit” point at one and a second at four, when the wind shifting to the west we were obliged to run back to a small sandy beach and run the boat on the shore. Ere all the baggage was out, the waves were breaking on the shore with all the violence of a sea hurricane. In the course of the evening the boat had to be hauled up as the surge rose on the shore, all our strength being inadequate to pull it up at once. Blowing with increased violence. Now ten o’clock.