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Home >> From 1600 to 1867 >> Identity, Culture & Communities >> Articles/Diaries/Ephemera/Journals

Daily life and challenges for the various groups involved in the fur trade.

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Author: Frances Simpson
Location: HBCA - Archives of Manitoba
Copyright Holder: Expired; no restrictions on use. Please credit HBCA - Archives of Manitoba.
  -39- Frances Simpson: Portages

Frances Ramsay Simpson (b. c.1812 - d. 1853), the daughter of a London merchant, married her cousin, HBC Governor George Simpson, in 1830. She initially accompanied him to Rupert's Land but her health deteriorated during her first pregnancy, and she was often an invalid therafter. Her husband settled her first in London and then in Lachine, where she died after giving birth to her fifth child.

This entry from the journal of her first canoe trip is dated June 4th. They are making their tortuous way down the Winnipeg River. p13, 5th pgh: "Made several Portages... striking and romantic."

"Made several Portages over smooth rocks of Granite, some of which, were troublesome, and dangerous to pass, owing to the rain of the former night, having made them very slippery.

The principal were, "Chute de Jacob" (the torrent of which foams, & boils, with a thundering sound for a considerable distance) "Pointe de Bois," the "Barriere," "Chute des Esclaves," and "Grand Galet" - the last a beautiful Rock, of about one hundred & fifty yards in length; the breadth between the Water and the Woods by which it is flanked, varying from 20 to 30 yards, with a perfectly smooth & level surface.

We encamped here, and I found it by far the most pleasant foundation for a bed, I had yet tried. The scene around this spot is very fine - the dashing Waters sparkling beneath the clear light of the Moon, together with the Tents, Fires &c of the Encampment, forming a picture at once striking & romantic."

Other Related Material
Read excerpts from Frances' journal - enter 'Frances' in the search box to your left.

What does Frances Simpson look like?

Discover a personal object that once belonged to Frances.

Check the Beaver Index - e.g., Journey for Frances [Parts 1-3], by Grace Lee Nute, December 1953, March 1954 and June 1954.

Did You Know?
Not all portages were as pleasant for Frances as this one. An earlier one (on 28 May) had taken "6 hours, of hopping, slipping & climbing," which "completely overpowered me with fatigue, and on arriving at the end I threw myself upon the grass, unable to move for some time."