Saturday, August 20, 2016

Uncle Pierre, Nor'Wester goes to Portage de la Montagne

"Expedition at Kakabeka Falls" by Frances Anne Hopkins

In 1802, Pierre Pinsonneau, a Nor'Wester -- my 5th great-uncle -- signed a contract to make two voyages to the Northwest. 

His one year agreement species that he will go to Fort Kaministiquia and to Portage de la Montagne (also known as Mountain Portage in English).

My guess is that the intent was to transport trade goods to the old French Fort Kaministiquia, and then to return to Montreal to obtain more trade goods to be taken over the Mountain Portage perhaps to the Rainy Lake Post.

The contract…

Last Name: Pinsonneau
Last Name Standardized: PINSONNEAULT
Given Names: Pierre
Contract Date: 1802, Dec 6
Contract Place: Montréal
Length of Contract: 1
Overwintered: Yes
Parish: L’Acadie
Parish (Standardized): L’Acadie
Destinations: Nord Ouest, Fort Kaministiquia, Portage de la Montagne
Function Notes: - Faire deux vogages du Fort Kaministiquia au Portage de la Montagne, exempt du Nepigon [Translation: Make two voyages: Fort Kaministiquia and Portage de la Montagne, free of Nepigon]
Merchant Company: MCTAVISH, FROBISHER & CO.
Company Representative: Mr. W. McGillivray
Notary Name: Chaboillez, Louis
Wages: 1300 LIVRES
Advance at Signing: 600 LIVRES
Contract Notes: - l’équipement double - s’oblige de contribuer d’un pour cent sur ses gages pour le Fonds des Voyageurs - soixante-huit mots rayés - passer par Michilimakinac, s’il en est requis [Translation: double equipment - is obliged to contribute one percent of his wages for the Voyageurs Fund - sixty-eight words struck - through Michilimakinac, if required]
Archive Source: BANQ, Greffes de notaires
Microfilm Number: M620/1201

Contract points of interest…

Kakabeka Falls by Lucius R. O'Brien

Voyageurs used the Portage de la Montagne (Mountain Portage) -- a 1.3 km carry -- around Kakabeka Falls on Kaministiquia River as a major route to the northwest.

Nor'Westers were employees of the North West Company. The North West Company (NWC) was a fur trading business headquartered in Montreal from 1779 to 1821.

HBC post, Fort William by William Armstrong

In 1807, the North West Company renamed Fort Kaministiquia as Fort William. After 1821, it was a Hudson's Bay Company trading post.

Pierre's contract also states, "free of Nipigon."  After the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the Lake Nipigon area passed into the hands of the Hudson's Bay Company.

With great wealth at stake, tensions between the rival companies increased to the point where several armed skirmishes broke out, so it would be wise for a Nor"wester to avoid a post owned by the Hudson's Bay Company.  In 1821, the two rival companies were forced to merge.

Pierre's contract says his function is that of "gouvernail" (rudder man or steersman) in the canoe. Within each fur trade canoe, less-experienced voyageurs took on role of middle paddlers called "milieux", more experienced men took up the more high-paying positions of steersman or "gouvernail" and bowsman or "avant."

About Pierre Pinsonneau...

Pierre Pinsonneau (Pinsono), was born 29 Jun 1765 in Laprairie, Quebec, Canada. He died after 1826, at an unknown location.  He married Anne-Felicite Bisaillon on13 Jul 1790, in Laprairie, Quebec, Canada. 

Pierre was the son of Joseph Pinsonneau (1733–1779) and Marie Madeleine Duquet (1734–1791); and brother of Gabriel Pinsonneau (1770 - 1807), my 4th great-grandfather.

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