Recollections of life on THE RIVERS AND Prairies
In the summer of 1843, and again in 1844, Mr. Desjarlais made a trip to Hudson Bay. He went as a boat hand in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company. The trip was made by way of the Steel River, a stream flowing into Hudson Bay. Great skill was required in rowing down this river as the current was very swift and the banks strewn with great boulders. It took a day to descend Steel River, but three days to ascend upstream, as boatmen had to pull the boats upstream with ropes from the shore. Each boat had six oarsmen, and about ten such boats were sent down to Hudson Bay at a time. Their cargo consisted of furs and dried meat, and they returned to Winnipeg with supplies of all kinds for the Hudson's Bay Company. Mr. Desjarlais stated that the boats which brought these supplies to Hudson Bay had great masts which looked like groves of dead timber. They anchored a long way out from the shore while smaller boats, which came in with the tide and went out with the tide, brought their cargo to land. The boatmen from Winnipeg spent several days resting on the short of Hudson Bay before beginning their return trip, which required about twelve days if the weather was favorable.
Desjarlais later went to St. Joseph (present-day Walhalla, ND) where Kittson had established a trading post. Here Desjarlais engaged in hunting and trapping with many other Indians and half-breeds. Two hunting trips were made each year by the half-breeds, one beginning early in June and lasting until about the middle of August, for the purpose of obtaining supplies of pemmican, and the other in late fall for securing quality furs. During the first trip the women accompanied the hunters and prepared the pemmican, but the hunters went alone on the fall trip. The general route of the hunting expeditions led out from St. Joseph and went to the east end of Devils Lake and the Sheyenne River, although sometimes they went to the Turtle Mountains. These hunting expeditions that went out from St. Joseph were of considerable size. Some of these half-breed hunters had as many as twenty or twenty-five carts, and most of them had at least three or four. There were often several hundred carts in an expedition. When the buffalo were numerous, the carts would be brought back heavy laden with pemmican.
adapted from Collections of the SHSND, Vol. 3. (1910)