Tuesday, May 30, 2006

How Long a Trip Was It?

It would appear from reading Champlain and Sagard that most trips up to Huronia in their time originated at Three Rivers or points west between there and Montreal Island where trade sites had been established. Most trips appeared to have taken about 30 days including a couple of short stopovers with people like the Nippissing. In most cases it would appear that the French landed at the villages of the people with whom they were traveling. This may have been preplanned from the outset or just happenstance but one would assume that if you planned to visit the Bear Nation, you would travel with people of that Nation as the landing places servicing the principle villages of these Nations were many leagues apart. The Rock Nation and the Bear for example were situated some 50 km distant overland from each other. This would not be a distance taken lightly should one get dropped off in an unintended destination.

In my reading of Sagard he is less specific than Champlain when it comes to dates, places and distances. In attempting to track Sagard’s trip to Huronia it would appear that he arrived at the place for his departure July 22nd 1623 but does not give a date for his departure from there. Another author, Le Clercq, says that Sagard departed on August 2nd. Sagard says that he arrived in Huronia August 20th with a two day stopover with the Nippissing. If Le Clercq’s date for Sagard’s departure is correct then this trip took a total of 18 days. This would have been a remarkably fast trip given that Sagard was not an experienced paddler and probably wasn’t much help on the portages as he freely admits that he did not carry his own baggage until after they arrived.
Another uncertain answer to me is where Sagard landed or who he traveled with. It would appear that he first settled at a village later to be known as Ossossane but Trigger and others would suggest that he landed at Matchedash Bay. Is this the Matchedash Bay that we know today far to the east of Ossossane or the Matchedash Bay of the 1800s that included all of what we now consider Severn Sound? Either way, neither of these landings comes anywhere close to Ossossane that is best accessed via Nottawassaga Bay at Doast Bay or Yarrow Point. Why, if traveling with people from Ossossane, would they land at a point that would necessitate as much as a two day walk burdened with trade goods and other belongings when there was a landing place at the base of the ridge on which their village was located?
If anyone can shed more light on these questions of time and place it would be greatly appreciated.
I have taken my information from Sagard’s “Long Voyage….” and some brief review of Le Clercq’s “First Establishment…..” Can anyone point me to other primary source material or a translation of Sagard’s second work “History of Canada”?


Steve said...

Hi JR- I am lead to believe that the Bear Nation had an exclusive privilege for trading with the French so even though Sagard settled with the Rock, he had no other means of arriving in Wendake except with the Bear.

John Raynor said...

Thanks Steve;
I think that this is the right answer for the wrong reason.
Now that you have Triggered my thoughts on who held the trade rights I believe that the Rock Nation had the early trade rights and that they would have been the ones doing trade with the French and others in Kebec when Sagard, Viel and Le Caron negotiated their travel plans. Hence he would have most likely arrived in Rock territory possibly somewhere toward the current Matchedash Bay and had to travel overland for a couple of days to reach Ossossane in Bear territory if in fact that is where he first settled.
Why did he just not settle with the Rock? Why did Viel end up at Toanche? Why did Le Caron end up back at Carhagouha or its replacement village? They all left at the same time but did not travel as a flotilla according to Sagard’s writings. Sagard does not use the name of Ossossane when he describe the village that first hosted him, I will have to study others logic to determine why they think that the place he settled in was Ossossane. There is a link between the village names that Champlain used and visited and the one where Sagard stayed but I think I will have to review that documentation further.
When Sagard describes first landing here (Long Voyage…)he says how he got lost and finally met up with his hosts waiting for him on the trail but does not describe this event in terms of days. Upon rereading that passage several times it would seem to be an event of only a few hours. Does he say more in his second book History of Canada? The whole thing would make more sense if one were able to determine that his first hosts were the Rock and that he stayed in one of their villages and never went to Ossossane unless it was after Viel found him and took him to live with Le Caron in northern Bear territory.
Any more thoughts on this or your sources for thinking that the Bear held the trading rights at this time would be greatly appreciated.