W.F. Wentzell's Journal, Grand River, 1804-5 and account of Mackenzie River.

Database ID26310
InstitutionUniversity of Saskatchewan Libraries Special Collections
Fonds/CollectionMorton Manuscripts Collection
File/Item ReferenceMSS-C500-4-14 (Box 6 O/S)
Date of creation1804-1821
Physical description/extent1 book; 50 pages
Number of images1
Historical noteThe North West Company, a Canadian fur-trading company, was once the chief rival of the powerful Hudson's Bay Company. The company was founded in 1783 and enjoyed a rapid growth. It originally confined its operations to the Lake Superior region and the valleys of the Red, Assiniboine, and Saskatchewan rivers but later spread north and west to the shores of the Arctic and Pacific oceans. It even penetrated the area then known as the Oregon Country, where it constructed posts in what are now the U.S. states of Washington and Idaho. Its wilderness headquarters was located first at Grand Portage on Lake Superior and after 1805 at Fort William (also on Lake Superior, at the site of the present city of Thunder Bay, Ontario). Competition with the Hudson's Bay Company became especially intense when that company established the colony of Assiniboia on the Red River (in present-day Manitoba) in 1811-1812, across the North West Company's line of communications. A few years later, open conflict broke out, during which North West Company men destroyed the Red River colony (see Seven Oaks Massacre) and Hudson's Bay Company men destroyed the North West Company post of Fort Gibraltar (located on the site of modern Winnipeg, Manitoba) and captured Fort William. Under pressure from the British government, the old North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company were merged in 1821 under the name and charter of the latter company. The New North West Company, or XY Company, had a brief existence (1798-1804) as a competitor of the old North West Company before being absorbed by the latter.
Scope and contentThis journal, a negative image photocopy, describes Wentzell's winter at the fort on Grand River, the trade with the Indians from the surrounding area, and the daily catch of fish and animals. Individual Indians and traders are mentioned often. The Account, written from memory in 1821, describes the waterways and land situated along the River, and the natives who inhabited the land; specifically the Horn Mountain (Dogrib), Hare, Rocky Mountain, and Beaver Indians, among others. Wentzell gives details of the hunting, fishing and trapping methods, and the clothing worn by some of the groups he encountered. He describes the fur trade and suggests methods "of re-establishing the prosperity in trade." A chart, or map, drawn by Wentzell from memory is included.
Restrictions on accessThere are no restrictions on access.
ContributerWentzell, W.F. (author)
Copyright holderPublic domain
Copyright expiry datePublic domain
Other terms governing use and reproductionResponsibility regarding questions of copyright that may arise in the use of any images is assumed by the researcher.
Primary MediaTextual documents
Specific document typesDiaries
Provenance Access PointMorton, A.S.
Other notesSee 500/4/13 (p.[1] - [62]) for a carbon of the typed copy of journal. Photostat done 3 Sept. 1931.
Treaty boundariesUpper Canada
Cultural regionNortheast
NamesWentzell, W.F.
Fur Trade
Hudson's Bay Company
Hunting and Trapping
Horn Mountain (Dogrib)
Rocky Mountain
North West Company
Date Range(s)1800-1819
Permanent Link https://digital.scaa.sk.ca/ourlegacy/permalink/26310