Wednesday, 17 August 2016


Action at Nipigon, 1877

From the old Thunder Bay newspaper.. The Sentinel, August 16, 1877

Nipigon Correspondence

Reported by A. Walpole Roland

Work is progressing on the R.C. Mission and Indian Reserve. (This would be current day -2016-St. Sylvester Church and Lake Helen Reserve / Red Rock Band -ed)

Rev’d Father Hebert, S.J.  arrived at Red Rock (that is the name of the Hudson’s Bay Co. post at Nipigon at that time-ed.) on 3rd. ultimo with building material for the above works,  and since that date has been zealously superintending workmen, laying out town and family lots, roads, boundary and drainage;  and making his “native employees” happy with a liberal – and much required allowance of tea, flour and pork.  The ground selected for the Mission is in many essential points very suitable, although there was but one or two lots left to choose from.  It has long been a favorite summer and fall camping and fishing station of the Indians, many of whom announce their intention of building “wigwam like white man” and dwelling permanently on the Reserve.

Services are held twice daily at the Mission, and on Sundays in the large building of the H.B.Co., Red Rock.

A full description of progress, and variety of work, might extend this letter to an inconvenient length.  Capt. Joseph White, of Ottawa, called here on the 10th ultimo from Battle Island, where he just finished the new light-house.  He has also en route for this place visited the new and old light houses near the “Nipigon Straits” St. Ignace.  At the former he found Mr. Michelson at his post, and all well; at the latter, windows and doors were removed, and the place “cleaned out of much valuable Government property.  House breaking is sometimes heard of in this section.

Much dissatisfaction prevails among the Nipigon Indians in consequence of their Agent and payments not appearing within some weeks of time announced.  Their Chief says, that, “When Indian has a vote , it will be very different.”

Trout fishing has commenced in earnest,  and the weather for the past week or two has been favorable for sport and the enjoyment of the superb scenery of the district.

The following are among the earliest and most distinguished arrivals, 1st party, Algerman, H. Percy, England;  Dr. A.B. Farnham, M.D., New York;  B.K. Miller, Milwaukee;  G. P. Miller, do.

2nd.- Thos Collins, Collingwood;  C.K. Wilkins, Palestine, Mass.; G.S. Grange, Guelph, Ontario; A. Ramsay, Bradford, Ont.;  F. Fraser, Rimouski, Ontario.

The above parties arrived and departed by steamers “Manitoba” and “ Cumberland”, two of the most popular boats on this route.

3rd.- Hon. John Simpson, Bowmanville, D.B. Simpson, do;  J.M. Simpson do;  D.F. Burke, P.A. Landing; A.H. Walbridge, New Castle;  L. Stronge, do.; F. Levekin, do.;  Hon. Geo. Alexander, Woodstock; Geo. MacWhirter, do.

The above gents with Mr. L. Wylie of P.A. L. arrived by a rather smart looking propeller named “Kate Marks”, S. St. Mary and Thunder Bay, and were much pleased with their trip.  After coaling the” Kate” steamed swiftly down- stream rounding the “Grecian bends” in good style.

The following are more of the arrivals by the propeller, “Kate Marks”.

4th.- Thos M. Stelson, New Bedford, Mass.; E.S. Faber, do.

August 4th. – As the mist cleared off this morning, a fleet of large and small craft might be seen under full press of canvas for the river.  Upon being sighted by the numerous dusky warriors camped around the Fort, a procession of canoes was formed, and were soon on their way to meet their expected Agent and escort him safely into port.

Foremost among the incoming sail was the schooner “Tomboy”, 50 tons, commanded by Capt. Donald Walker, of Chicago, with a party of American sportsmen from various States of the Union.

The following are the most prominent names: Messrs J.H. Stauffer, New Orleans;  C.W> Whetmore, Marquette; S.D. Warren, Boston, Mass.

Capt. Walker refused the services of a pilot,  and although an entire stranger to this coast, sailed up to the dock with the confidence of Capt. Symms.

The “Tomboy” is the largest sailing vessel ever brought up to the Fort;  she remains three weeks to await her party who are now on Lake Nipigon.  The other sails were from Pic River and Fort William, viz “Flowery Land” and Schooner “Penassee  with lumber for R.C. Mission.

Our next distinguished arrivals (same day) were by steam Yacht  Maggie L. Wilson”, viz. “A.A. Eustapheive”, Buffalo;  Capt. Dimick, do.; J.McGowan, do;  J.P. Merritt, N. York;  A.W. Hegeman, do; W.G. Larrison, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Capt. Dimick is decorated with the Royal Humane Society gold medal for services rendered the officers and crew of the transatlantic steamship “L. Amerique  during one of her many perils.

About 10 p.m. on the 8th inst Capt. W. Pritchard, of Fort William, made our old red rocks re-echo with the clarion notes of his Tug “Watchman”.

Arrivals by the Watchman – Amos Wright, Indian and Crown Land Agent;  Dr. A.A. Clarke, P.A. Landing.  By sail boat at the same hour; W. A. Preston, P.A.L.;  J.C. Sproule, do;  F. Beattie, do.

With a few other enterprising Merchants and traders from P.A.L.  and Fort William.

Early on the morning of the 9th Mr. Amos Wright received the Indian Chief in his tent where amicable speeches were made by both parties, the Chief accepting Mr. Wright’s explanation as quite satisfactory.  The aboriginies then formed up, and payments were made in a quiet and orderly manner.  During the day business appeared lively at the marquees of the opposition traders.  The H. B. Co., as usual doing a steady trade in substantial goods.

The “Watchman” leaves today with an excursion party of Indians, with banners, music and dancing.

11th Aug.- The “Watchman” left the River at 4 a.m. this morning for Prince Arthur.

Mr. D.F. Burke, of the Ontario Bank, P.A.L. left by the “ Watchman” after spending some 14 days on the Nipigon.

Hon. John Simpson and party will leave on the 12th inst by Steamer “Manitoba.”

11th inst 11a.m. Schooner “Mary Ann Hulbert,” Captain Jno. O’Mally, of Bayfield, Wis., just arrived at the dock.  Passengers for Nipigon: James Chapman, Bayfield, Wis., P.W. Smith, do., J.L.L.Bridges, Berlin, do.; Senator H.S. Sacket, do.; and F.W. Sacket, do.

A.W.R.  Camp Weeks, August 12, 1877

P.A.L. = Prince Arthur’s Landing ( today’s Port Arthur part of Thunder Bay)

While all this was going on in Nipigon in 1877 another column in the same newspaper reports “Indian Fight in Montana” . A terrible battle between Gen. Gibbon’s command and the Nez Perces on the Big Hole River.

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