|In November of 1824,
an expedition was sent out to explore the shore line of Puget
Sound and the waters of the Fraser River. The party was
comprised of McMillan, three clerks and an interpreter, 36
men and an Iroquois Freehunter and his slave.
The three clerks were:
step-son to Dr. McLoughlin (Dr M married the widow of
Thomas' father; the elder McKay accompanied Alexander
Mackenzie on his expedition to the coast in 1793)
Noel Annance (which is spelled
"Annanour" in the Washington Historical
(whose family name was originally Wark, but because HBC
made his commission out in the Work spelling, that was
the spelling he used thereafter.)
The interpeter was
Michael Laframbois, and the 36 men -- listed as
they were spelled in Work's
journal -- were:
- Jas. Portneuf
- Jos. Loui
- Peo Bean
- Cawano, Jr.
- F.H. Condon
- Leo Depuis
- J.B. Dubian
- Joseph Grey
- Wm. Johnson
- Andre Le
- Segwin le
- Piere L'Etang
- Pierre Patvin
- Basil Pioner
- P.B. Proveau
- Chas. Rondeau
- Thos. Toyanel
- Louis Vivet
- Peter Wagner
They brought the Iroquois
Freehunter along because he was acquainted with
the coast line for part of the way. The
voyage was made in three boats.
Thursday, November 18,
1824: left Fort
George, 1:15pm, picking up Pierre Charles on November
Monday, December 13th: entered Mud Bay and started up
the Nicomekl River. Their Indian guides wanted to go by
way of Point Roberts, but the Nicomekl led to a portage
to the Coweechan River (their name for the Fraser). The
stream was blocked with driftwood through which the
guides cut a passage that was "hardly wide enough
for the white man's bateaux."
Tuesday, December 14th: Portage was commenced. Boats
and baggage were carried for 3970 yards, a little more
than half the total distance. The portage was through
what is now know as the Langley Prairie, and they
described it as being "rich, swampy soil, and
abounding in beaver."
Wednesday December 15th: at the Salmon River, and the
end of the portage, covering another 3930 yards, for a
total distance of 7910 yards. Mr Stanley Towle, of
Jardine, said that the spot where the British Columbia
Railway Trestle bridge near Jardine stands was called
"The Portage" in his younger days. A similar
name is recorded on the Nicomekl at the back of the
Thursday December 16th: At 11 am the expedition
started up the Salmon River, and reached the Fraser at 1
Friday December 17th: spent proceeding up the Fraser
as far as Hatzic Slough. They spent the night at the
mouth of the river which later came to be confined by the
Canadian Pacific Railway embankment and the pumping
Saturday December 18th: they started the return trip,
made entirely by water.
Sunday December 19th: passed the mouth of the Pitt
River -- though it wasn't yet named the Pitt River.
However in the journal for 1827 it is said they marked
this occassion, in 1824, by carving "H.B.C." on
two trees on the south side of the Fraser.
Monday December 20th: passed Point Roberts and Birch
Thursday December 30th: arrived Fort George
A few months later Dr.
McLoughlin moved his headquarters to a new spot up the
Columbia, naming it Fort Vancouver; it was the capital of the
company on the Pacific Coast for the next 20 years.
Then he sent another expedition from Fort
Vancouver to the Fraser, to select a site and establish a
trading post to be called Fort Langley.
The Birth of
Wednesday June 27th,
McMillan, the head of the 1824 party, left Fort Vancouver
with two boats early in the morning.
Saturday, July 21st: the party anchored a mile
inside the mouth of the Fraser.
Sunday, July 23rd: the journal mentions
Tuesday, July 24th: they pass the two Hudson's Bay
Company trees, and the "Quoittle or Pitt's
Thursday, July 26th: Mcmillan selected the site for
the fort on a piece of land below the mouth of the Salmon
River, on the south bank of the Fraser, which, today, is
called Derby and is opposite the A. & L. logging
railway teminus above Port Haney.
Monday July 30th: They landed the horses on and
started the laborious task of clearing the land.
Wednesday August 1,
first stick for Fort Langley was cut, said McMillan in a
letter to a friend, John McLeod.
Fort Langley was named
after Thomas Langley, a prominent member and stockholder of
that name, who was associated with Sir J. Pelly in the
management of the company.
Fort Langley was moved
up-stream in 1839 due mostly to the fact that the river
showed an alarming propensity to flood the origin site. Then
in 1840, due to carelessness with a fire, the fort almost
burnt to the ground. It was rebuild, however, and continued
operations until 1896.
From Archibald McDonald's
journal, we get a description of Fort Langley in 1828.
"The fort is 135 X
120 feet with two good bastions, and a gallery four feet
wide all round. A building of three compartments for the
men, a small log house of two compartments in which the
gentlemen themselves reside, and a store, are now
occupied, besides which there are two other buildings,
one a good dwelling house with an excellent cellar and a
spacious garret. A couple of well-finished chimneys are
up, and the whole inside is now ready for wainscoating
and partitioning. Four large windows are in front, and
one in each end, and one, with a corresponding door, in
the back. The other is a low building with only two
square rooms, with a fireplace in each, and a kitchen
adjoining made of slat. The out-door work consists of
three fields, each planted with 30 bushels of potatoes,
and looks well. The provisions shed, exclusive of table
store, is furnished with 3000 dried salmon, 16 tiers
salted salmon, 36 cwt. of flour, 2 cwt. of grease, and 30
bushels of salt."
Langley 1827-1827: A Century of Settlement in the
Valley of the Lower Fraser River, by
Denys Nelson, Fort Langley, BC. July 1927
If you have any info on the
members of the 1824 expedition,
us a note, we'd
love to hear from you.