Pathfinders of the West eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 313 pages of information about Pathfinders of the West.
somewhere round a sea in the North.  Hudson had discovered this sea half a century before Radisson’s day; Jean Bourdon, a Frenchman, had coasted up Labrador in 1657 seeking the Bay of the North; and on their last trip the explorers had learned from the Crees who came through the dense forests of the hinterland that there lay round this Bay of the North a vast country with untold wealth of furs.  The discovery of a route overland to the north sea was to become the lodestar of Radisson’s life.[1]

[Illustration:  Montreal in 1760:  1, the St. Lawrence; 20, the Dock; 18-19, Arsenal; 16, the Church; 13-15, the Convent and Hospital; 8-12, Sally-ports, River Side; 17, Cannon and Wall; 3-4-5, Houses on Island.]

“We considered whether to reveal what we had learned,” explains Radisson, “for we had not been in the Bay of the North, knowing only what the Crees told us.  We wished to discover it ourselves and have assurance before revealing anything.”  But the secret leaked out.  Either Groseillers told his wife, or the Jesuits got wind of the news from the Indians; for it was announced from Quebec that two priests, young La Valliere, the son of the governor at Three Rivers, six other Frenchmen, and some Indians would set out for the Bay of the North up the Saguenay.  Radisson was invited to join the company as a guide.  Needless to say that a man who had already discovered the Great Northwest and knew the secret of the road to the North, refused to play a second part among amateur explorers.  Radisson promptly declined.  Nevertheless, in May, 1661, the Jesuits, Gabriel Dreuillettes and Claude Dablon, accompanied by Couture, La Valliere, and three others, set out with Indian guides for the discovery of Hudson’s Bay by land.  On June 1 they began to ascend the Saguenay, pressing through vast solitudes below the sombre precipices of the river.  The rapids were frequent, the heat was terrific, and the portages arduous.  Owing to the obstinacy of the guides, the French were stopped north of Lake St. John.  Here the priests established a mission, and messengers were sent to Quebec for instructions.

Meanwhile, Radisson and Groseillers saw that no time must be lost.  If they would be first in the North, as they had been first in the West, they must set out at once.  Two Indian guides from the Upper Country chanced to be in Montreal.  Groseillers secured them by bringing both to Three Rivers.  Then the explorers formally applied to the French governor, D’Avaugour, for permission to go on the voyage of discovery.  New France regulated the fur trade by license.  Imprisonment, the galleys for life, even death on a second offence, were the punishments of those who traded without a license.  The governor’s answer revealed the real animus behind his enthusiasm for discovery.  He would give the explorers a license if they would share half the profits of the trip with him and take along two of his servants as auditors of the returns.  One

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Pathfinders of the West from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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