Astoria: Or, Anecdotes of an Enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

frame seasoned to toils and hardships, a spirit not to be intimidated, and was reputed to be a "remarkable shot;" which of itself was sufficient to give him renown upon the frontier.

Mr. Hunt and his coadjutor repaired, about the latter part of July, 1810, to Montreal, the ancient emporium of the fur trade, where everything requisite for the expedition could be procured. One of the first objects was to recruit a complement of Canadian voyageurs from the disbanded herd usually to be found loitering about the place. A degree of jockeyship, however, is required for this service, for a Canadian voyageur is as full of latent tricks and vice as a horse; and when he makes the greatest external promise, is prone to prove the greatest "take in." Besides, the Northwest Company, who maintained a long established control at Montreal, and knew the qualities of every voyageur, secretly interdicted the prime hands from engaging in this new service; so that, although liberal terms were offered, few presented themselves but such as were not worth having.

From these Mr. Hunt engaged a number sufficient, as he supposed, for present purposes; and, having laid in a supply of ammunition, provisions, and Indian goods, embarked all on board one of those great canoes at that time universally used by the fur traders for navigating the intricate and often-obstructed rivers. The canoe was between thirty and forty feet long, and several feet in width; constructed of birch bark, sewed with fibres of the roots of the spruce tree, and daubed with resin of the pine, instead of tar. The cargo was made up in packages, weighing from ninety to one hundred pounds each, for the facility of loading and unloading, and of transportation at portages. The canoe itself, though capable of sustaining a freight of upward of four tons, could readily be carried on men's shoulders. Canoes of this size are generally managed by eight or ten men, two of whom are picked veterans, who receive double wages, and are stationed, one at the bow and the other at the stern, to keep a lookout and to steer. They are termed the foreman and the steersman. The rest, who ply the paddles, are called middle-men. When there is a favorable breeze, the canoe is occasionally navigated with a sail.

The expedition took its regular departure, as usual, from St. St. Anne's, near the extremity of the island of Montreal, the great starting place of the traders to the interior. Here stood the ancient chapel of St. Anne, the patroness of the Canadian voy-

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Astoria: Or, Anecdotes of an Enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 1
  • Introduction. 3
  • Contents 7
  • Astoria. 17
  • Chapter II 27
  • Chapter III 31
  • Chapter IV 41
  • Chapter V 47
  • Chapter VI 55
  • Chapter VII 65
  • Chapter VIII 71
  • Chapter IX 75
  • Chapter X 79
  • Chapter XI 87
  • Chapter XII 95
  • Chapter XIII 100
  • Chapter XIV 106
  • Chapter XV 111
  • Chapter XVI 122
  • Chapter XVII 132
  • Chapter XVIII 139
  • Chapter XIX 146
  • Chapter XX 152
  • Chapter XXI 160
  • Chapter XXII 168
  • Chapter XXIII 172
  • Chapter XXIV 176
  • Chapter XXV 179
  • Chapter XVII 182
  • Chapter XXVII 188
  • Chapter XXVIII 192
  • Chapter XXIX 197
  • Chapter XXX 202
  • Chapter XXXI 205
  • Chapter XXXII 210
  • Chapter XXXIII 216
  • Chapter XXXIV 220
  • Chapter XXXV 229
  • Chapter XXXVI 232
  • Chapter XXXVII 238
  • Chapter XXXVIII 246
  • Chapter Xxxix 251
  • Chapter XL 255
  • Chapter XLI 261
  • Chapter XLII 269
  • Chapter XLIII 273
  • Chapter XLIV 279
  • Chapter XLV 289
  • Chapter XLVI 295
  • Chapter XLVII 301
  • Chapter XLVIII 308
  • Chapter XLIX 313
  • Chapter L 319
  • Chapter LI 325
  • Chapter LII 328
  • Chapter LIII 334
  • Chapter LIV 343
  • Chapter LV 346
  • Chapter LVI 348
  • Chapter LVII 350
  • Chapter LVIII 357
  • Chapter LIX 362
  • Chapter LX 366
  • Chapter LXI 369
  • Appendix. 377
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