Arrival of a Number of Canoes of the Northwest Company.—Sale of the Establishment at Astoria to that Company.—Canadian News.—Arrival of the British Sloop-of-War “Raccoon.”—Accident on Board that Vessel.—The Captain takes Formal Possession of Astoria.—Surprise and Discontent of the Officers and Crew.—Departure of the “Raccoon.”
A few days after Mr. M’Kenzie left us, we were greatly surprised by the appearance of two canoes bearing the British flag, with a third between them, carrying the flag of the United States, all rounding Tongue Point. It was no other than Mr. M’Kenzie himself, returning with Messrs. J.G. M’Tavish and Angus Bethune, of the Northwest Company. He had met these gentlemen near the first rapids, and had determined to return with them to the establishment, in consequence of information which they gave him. Those gentlemen were in light canoes (i.e., without any lading), and formed the vanguard to a flotilla of eight, loaded with furs, under the conduct of Messrs. John Stuart and M’Millan.
Mr. M’Tavish came to our quarters at the factory, and showed Mr. M’Dougal a letter which had been addressed to the latter by Mr. Angus Shaw, his uncle, and one of the partners of the Northwest Company. Mr. Shaw informed his nephew that the ship Isaac Todd had sailed from London, with letters of marque, in the month of March, in company with the frigate Phoebe, having orders from the government to seize our establishment, which had been represented to the lords of the admiralty as an important colony founded by the American government. The eight canoes left behind, came up meanwhile, and uniting themselves to the others, they formed a camp of about seventy-five men, at the bottom of a little bay or cove, near our factory. As they were destitute of provisions, we supplied them; but Messrs. M’Dougal and M’Kenzie affecting to dread a surprise from this British force under our guns, we kept strictly on our guard; for we were inferior in point of numbers, although our position was exceedingly advantageous.
As the season advanced, and their ship did not arrive, our new neighbors found themselves in a very disagreeable situation, without food, or merchandise wherewith to procure it from the natives; viewed by the latter with a distrustful and hostile eye, as being our enemies and therefore exposed to attack and plunder on their part with impunity; supplied with good hunters, indeed, but wanting ammunition to render their skill available. Weary, at length, of applying to us incessantly for food (which we furnished them with a sparing hand), unable either to retrace their steps through the wilderness or to remain in their present position, they came to the conclusion of proposing to buy of us the whole establishment.