"[History is] a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man." -Percy Bysshe Shelley

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Malhiot's arrival in Lac du Flambeau

Ever wonder what it might be like to travel to our area 200+ years ago? Read on for Francois Victor Malhiot's account of his journey to Lac du Flambeau in July 1804.

Quetico Superior route, passing a waterfall, Frances Anne Hopkins
Hopkins painted herself into some of her pieces -- see her in the middle wearing a blue hat
Keep in mind that just getting to La Pointe was a journey in itself, requiring Malhiot to traverse Lake Superior. He started out from Kaministiquia, now known as Fort William, in present-day Ontario. It took him 11 days to reach La Pointe on Madeline Island, and several more to reach the mouth of the Bad River, where he begins the following journal entry:
27th Friday. Our people from Lac du Flambeau, Tremble Martineau, and Le Beau, arrived here at six o’clock yesterday evening with their baggage, decided to go on to Mr Cadotte at la Pointe if they had not found another clerk to replace Gauthier.

They are thin and emaciated like real skeletons. They say they were more ill-treated than ever by Gauthier; that half the time they had nothing to eat, while he is resolved to go and work for the XY if he is replaced by another; further, that he has sworn to kill Raciot for having written against him, and that there would be murder before he left Lac du Flambeau; that he is resolved to pull up all the clearings, that is to say the potatoes and corn he had planted or caused to be planted; finally, that he is like a wild beast, and not a day passes without his swearing, storming, and inveighing against those who wintered with him last year. He has got only three packs of furs at the most, besides one he traded for his own goods.

I will not undertake the portage today because these men from the interior aska day’s rest. How weak they are!! I gave each of them a drink of shrub, two double handfuls of flour, and two pounds of pork and they began to eat with such avidity that I was twice obliged to take the dish away from them, and, notwithstanding this, I feared for a long while that injurious consequences would result; fortunately they all escaped with slight twinges of colic.

28th Saturday. I started this morning from Lake Superior with seven of my men to proceed at once to Lac du Flambeau. I took with me a bale of merchandize, a roll of tobacco, 20 pounds of shot, 20 pounds of bullets, three quarters of a sack of corn, a barrel of rum double strength, and all my baggage. Today we did forty pauses. I left the remainder of my things under the care and charge of Racicot. Durocher, who has been poisoned with poison-ivy, is also with him; otherwise he would have come with me with a load. My toothache is beginning again as bad as ever. I gave my people a small drink of shrub.

29th Sunday. Today we did only 20 pauses because I suffered too much from my toothache last night, and had to get my head sweated this morning which soothed the pain a little. It is now 4 o’clock in the afternoon and we are camping because several of the men are complaining greatly of pains in their legs and it is necessary to spare them. My toothache is a little better than it was in the morning. I feel weak at times, owing to my being unable to take any food. I gave my men a drink of shrub.

31st Tuesday. We started at seven o’clock this morning and at last, at one o’clock in the afternoon, we reached the end of the Portage; the people were somewhat tired, and Bourbon had severe pains in his legs. I sent them at once to get the canoes that were cached, to have them gummed, and I made them make paddles so as to be able to start tomorrow morning.
August 2nd Thursday. I started at 4 o’clock this morning and arrived here at Fort du Flambeau at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. I found Gauthier quite disconcerted, trembling, and not knowing what to say. I read him the letter from Mr William McGillivray which frightened him still more and made him shed tears. I gave him all the messages from Mr McGillivray and Mr Sayer, remonstrated with him in every way, after which he admitted his errors.

Malhiot's journal is sourced from Digital Time Travelers.

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